Before We Leave is a new city builder from publisher Team17 and developer Balancing Monkey Games but one that has a bit more of a laid-back approach to it. The game has been out for a little while now on Xbox, PC, and Xbox Game Pass but it has just now debuted on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. I took it for a spin and spent some time with the peeps and here is whether you should check this one out or not.
You start the game off on a planet somewhere in a galaxy that has had a great calamity in the past wipe out civilization. At the start of the game you’ll have a few people, called peeps in this game, emerge from a bunker and find they need to start building anew. The game provides a tutorial right off to help get you into the swing of things. You’ll have to build a boat early on so that you can travel but from there you’ll learn how to plant food, craft tools, build essential buildings, and start getting your new civilization going. I said the game is a more laid-back city builder in the opening and that’s because unlike other games in the genre you won’t have enemies threatening to wipe out your hard work.
I really liked the lack of threats as I was able to sit back and just spend my time freely deciding what I wanted to pursue. I never had much problem figuring out what things did either as the HUD is designed quite well and information on buildings and other matters are presented in a great way to give you what you need to know. That’s not to say there isn’t a barrage of information thrown at you but I never felt too intimidated by it all. I just kept working to build up my cities with the overall goal being to build your way off-world and start colonizing more planets. Some hurdles do lie along the way though such as keeping an eye on your pollution levels as your cities get bigger. If these levels aren’t maintained then the happiness levels of your peeps will decrease and that will have an adverse effect on how well they work.
While I enjoyed Before We Leave for quite a few hours I did start to find that it grew a bit repetitive over time. Later in the game you end up building a lot of the same things and harvesting the same materials over time lending to the feeling that you aren’t really experiencing anything new. Things are procedurally generated over playthroughs but after my first I felt like if I started up another there wouldn’t be anything else for me to see that I hadn’t already.
In terms of seeing things the visuals in Before We Leave are actually very good with everything being quite colorful. Buildings have quite a bit of variety to them and there is a lot of detail build into each one. The game also has great lighting as you’ll notice as the day and night cycle passes. You also get a very good soundtrack composed by Benedict Nichols who worked on the score for The Falconeer with James Dean helping out too. Their music in this game very much fits that laid-back attitude that the rest of the game has going for it and was pleasant throughout. If you’re a trophy hunter you’ll find 56 trophies including a Platinum awaiting you in this game. If you want that Platinum though prepare yourself for quite the grind as a lot of the trophies will take a long time to earn.
Before We Leave is a relaxing and colorful city builder that is fun for a few hours but starts to grow a bit repetitive in the long term. The focus on just building your civilization without dealing with threats is something I quite enjoyed but the game needed a bit more variety in the late game as I felt like I had seen all it had to show me by that time. Fans of the genre who seek more depth in their city builders may want to look elsewhere but if you want one that is just a bit more chill then Before We Leave may be for you.
*Before We Leave is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.