Dream Engines: Nomad Cities is a hybrid city-building title that mixes the popular elements of many different genres into an entertaining, yet challenging experience.
The goal of the game is simple — the player must build and manage a city in a post-apocalyptic world, and as with most strategic games, there are resources necessary for building and upkeep of the city.
One thing that makes resource management and gathering in Dream Engines: Nomad Cities more challenging is how the goods are transported to the city — old-school wagons and rails! Since the rail system only works one-way (either toward or away from a production center) the player must create an efficient network to maintain a solid production rate. Although easier ways to transport the resources can be unlocked later on, managing the rail system during the first couple of hours is a real challenge.
Another way that Dream Engines: Nomad Cities is not a classic city-building experience is that there’s an Isometric hack-and-slash RPG inside!
In these sections, the player controls a cute (yet powerful) robot responsible for managing the city and exploring deadly, unknown parts of world. The combat is played in real time, and is reminiscent of isometric titles such as Diablo, and naturally, the robot can be upgraded to have more powerful weapons and better armor.
Interestingly, all of the action taken by the player (even in the city-building phase) is restricted by line-of-sight and distance to the robot.
Last but not the least is one of the most interesting aspects and another way it stands out — the option to lift your city off the ground and fly away! Unfortunately, lifting off forces the player to leave the map and go to a new one. It also strips the player off some types of valuable resources and all buildings located outside the city limits. Effectively, it’s a way to finish one world and move to another one.
There are different worlds to choose as destinations, and each one has a unique ecosystem and resources. There are old ruins left from ancient otherworldly civilizations that provide the player with special resources or upgrades for the robot. Weather changes and environmental hazards (such as sand storms) may hit the city. Groups of purple bug-like creatures that have infested the world may raid the player’s settlements, and more.
While this content shows much promise, one feature that I’d like to see in the final product is a tactical pause system for the city-building phase. It’s common in most city-builders, but Dream Engines: Nomad Cities asks players to manage everything in real-time — it’s really difficult.
Although still in its infancy with Early Access build 0.5, Dream Engines: Nomad Cities is filled with interesting concepts and mechanics. It’s already challenging enough to force the player to use good foresight and keep long-term goals in mind, but different upgradable layers of city, new tech to research and a mysterious world to discover mean that there will be plenty of surprises in store.
Dream Engines: Nomad Cities is currently in Early Access on PC.