Block’hood is a building simulation game focused on sustainable living and vertical expansion. Players balance the usage and production of a large number of resources while building in a confined horizontal space. There are Story, Challange, and Sandbox game modes to suit a wide range of interests.
Format: PC via Steam
Story play time: 2 hours
Playtime so far: 3 hours
Block’hood is all about creating and deleting blocks to gain or consume resources. Resources can include water, fresh air, money, wilderness, groundwater, and leisure. Leisure represents the open, livable space, which both humans and animals need. Resources also include things like knowledge, community, and sickness. Blocks like solar panels generate electricity over time without any input, but most blocks consume other resources to function. A block only produces its output if all its inputs are met, otherwise, it starts to decay and cease functioning. Some inputs are optional and are marked in blue. Blocks can produce without these resources but consuming them increases the block’s output.
Blocks in Block’hood also need to be accessible in order to be used and produce resources. Access to blocks is indicated by arrows on some or all sides of the block. The easiest way to visualize this is whether or not someone could walk to the block, which is very important when building vertically. Some blocks have synergies that can change their productivity by being next to other blocks, each positive synergy will give a 10% increase in output. For example: putting a beech grove block next to a small apartment increases synergy while putting a plastics factory next to a small apartment decreases synergy. Different combinations of blocks also attract different types of people and animals. For example, Certain business blocks can come with risks, such as sweatshops which attract protestors.
The buildable space in Block’hood is called a Hood. The size of a Hood does not change while playing, but all resources are shared across the Hood. Hoods can have events such as rainfall, which are visible on the upcoming timeline and can have different effects such as an increase in water resources. Hoods also have seasons that change the likelihood of different weather events. Non-random events such as rancid waste can be triggered by meeting certain conditions like having too much organic waste. They can be removed by meeting their exit conditions. Other events can include predators moving into the Hood if there are a lot of herbivores living there. When it comes to inhabitants like people or animals, the Inhabitant Database can show players any recipes they’ve discovered on how to attract certain people or animals.
Controls for Block’hood are pretty simple. The player can move and rotate the 3D view with either a keyboard or mouse. Most menus have predefined shortcut keys and are accessible to keyboard navigation. Blocks can also be rotated even after they’ve been placed (although they can’t be moved) and the slice plane tool allows players to look at only a single layer of the Hood at a time. This is especially useful when dealing with large building complexes that are stacked on top of each other. To help with waiting for resources, time can be sped up to one, two, four, and eight times speed.
Block’hood has three play modes: Story, Challenge, and Sandbox. Story mode covers everything the player needs to know in order to play the game but takes about 2 hours to complete. Alternatively, there’s a 10 part tutorial that covers all the basics and takes only 15 minutes for players that want to jump right in. Story mode focuses on a story about a boy and a boar as they grow up, and how technology can take over and destroy the natural things that are good. And how finding a balance between the two is important for both sides to survive. There are 24 different challenges in the game. These range from different objectives such as producing a certain amount of a resource, to building certain combinations of blocks, to advancing technologically. Sandbox mode has both a Hood mode and a World mode. World mode allows players to connect multiple Hoods together. Each Hood can be set in one of the 10 different biomes.
Overall, I really liked the vertical building and sustainable focus of Block’hood. I enjoyed the different modes and variety of blocks and resources. The controls were simple to learn and well adapted to working in a fully 3D space. Although I did have some minor annoyances, like trying to sort through the long list of resources for ones I didn’t want to be accruing or wanting to move blocks instead of destroying and recreating them. I recommend Block’hood for players interested in a lighter weight building and management simulation.