The chill town-building experience Townscaper has finally come to mobile after finding success on PC and console. If you haven't come across gifs or video of it in action, the idea is quite simple. In it, you simply tap around on a body of water to make algorithmically-generated town pieces pop into existence.
Initial taps make a road or walkway pop up, but tapping that roadway makes a house, and then a tower. At any point you can tap elsewhere to begin making new areas to work with, and if they are close enough together they'll pop together and transform into a cohesive whole.
There are no stated goals, objectives, or even a story to follow along. It's just you and your creativity collaborating with a tool that works to make sure everything you construct looks like it belongs together. To further customize your creations, you can change the color scheme you're working in at will, adjust the colors of already-placed items with a quick tap and hold, use lighting tools to dramatically light your towns, and a few different ways to save and share your creations easily.
Despite all of these tools, it makes perfect sense for Oskar Stålberg, the creator of Townscaper, to describe it as more of a toy than a game. Playing it feels way more akin to doodling around or any other relatively open creative exercise as opposed to playing something that challenges you to reach or work toward a specific end state or goal.
In case you're not sure the degree to which this sounds like it's for you or not, check out the footage capture in the video above to get a sense of how it plays and controls on iPad and iPhone. Both captures are from an initial boot of Townscaper so you can see just how much the game just dumps you into the creation process and relies on its own ease of use and intuitive design to let you figure it out.
The experience on both devices feels great, with the iPad giving you a nice, wide view and lots of room to tap accurately without having to do much pinching to zoom, while the iPhone version has a super convenient portrait mode layout that lets you build one-handed or on-the-go really easily.
The only minor bummer is that Townscaper doesn't seamlessly sync your creations across devices. There is a way to export and import projects with auto-generated code that you can copy to or read from your device's clipboard, but it would be nice to be able to start an idea on my tablet and simply pick up where I left off on my phone without having to actively ensure I've copied the right text string.
Townscaper is available for $4.99 and I think folks that want a fun art toy can get more than their money's worth out of it. If you're not sure that's you, I'd personally recommend checking out Stålberg's previous mobile release, Bad North: Jotunn Edition which has some aesthetic similarities to Townscaper while also being one of the best real time strategy games on mobile.