Pocket City, from Codebrew Games, came out over the past couple months on Android and it’s just about everything I ever wanted out of a mobile city-builder … until it ended. It’s a great game that’s fun to manage and play through, but once you hit the city size limit (which happens rather quickly), there isn’t enough to come back to.
I made multiple cities in my time with Pocket City: one in the game’s normal mode and the others in the sandbox mode. The normal mode gives you quests to essentially act as a tutorial, unlocking different types of buildings and structures. Later, you can unlock basic land-manipulating tools, like making some of the squares on the square grid sand or water and the ability to create mountains, which you can mine for resources. All of these buildings and tools are automatically unlocked in the game’s sandbox mode.
Your goal is to manage the needs of your citizens — from safety, to education, to enough places to shop and work all while trying to make your city profitable. It’s satisfying at first to build your roads and get the traffic congestion down. It feels good to line up your mountains and the mines that export goods for your city in such a way as to perfectly optimize the space.
All the aspects of getting through the game feel pretty dang good.
The game is also filled with pleasant city sounds and quirky writing, some of my favorite of which included a man on fire running around saying “This is fine” and a discussion about the nature of existence between two random residents.
Eventually, you reach a point where, even when searching for the perfect city optimization in sandbox mode, it doesn’t feel like there is a lot of creative room anymore All cities made — if they are to make the residents of the city happy — tend to follow the same design conventions. The canvas isn’t large enough to explore and be as creative as I want to be, and the list of buildings in the game is low compared to those in a much bigger game on PC.
That said, Pocket City was a pleasant playthrough, and it’s clear the developers accomplished their goal. They don’t promise a 50-hour experience with hardcore management. What they do promise is a simple, pleasant city-builder with just enough going on to be worth a full playthrough and then perhaps a bit of tinkering.
Peep the release trailer below.