Release Date: May 20, 2021
Polyville Canyon is a game that should, in theory, check a whole bunch of boxes for me. Bright, colorful color palette? Check. Chill gameplay? Check. I get to build things? Check! I used to play a lot of pure city builders when I was younger, but I bounced pretty hard off of both Cities: Skylines and the most recent Sim City. Still, I felt $2 wasn’t too much to gamble to find out if the genre still held appeal for me.
I feel like the answer to that is – kind of.
I chose story mode, which dropped me right into a tutorial, and man, the Polyville Canyon tutorial is lengthy for a game that basically has you plopping down roads and buildings. There’s no infrastructure here that you need to worry about – even roadways are mostly cosmetic, since they give your people (which the game refers to as Neighbors) a place to wander around. Everything you want to place costs money, again, except for roads, but you have a regular income supply in the train, as well as rewards for completing tutorial & neighbor missions throughout the game.
Experience points (XP) come quickly and easily as well. Each time you level up, you gain access to new buildings, new neighbors, and new customization options for existing buildings. Everything you place can be moved without penalty, customized for free, or sold for a little less than what you paid for it. It’s a very low-key take on the city building formula; there are goals & money, but if you run out of either one, all you have to do is wait. It’ll come.
There’s a first person view, if you want to wander around the town you’ve build, but there’s not much to do there either except click on the Neighbors to “meet” them. This enables you to see what special perks they bring to your town, and to watch a rather adorable little greeting dance.
Once I completed the tutorial, and unlocked Neighbor requests, I started enjoying the game a bit more. This will likely come as a shock to no one who knows me at all, but I like structure and goals. Building things for aesthetic reasons will always interest me less than building things because someone asked for them. Which is what, in the end, made the game a bit of a miss for me.
But there’s not much to complain about in Polyville Canyon; the sheer simplicity means that you pretty much get exactly what’s being advertised. It might be a hard sell if you don’t care for the art style, but if the idea of building a cute little walkable town without needing to worry about traffic jams, or zoning, or poring over spreadsheets, it’s absolutely worth the pick-up.
SteamDB estimates that Polyville Canyon has sold between 2,100 and 5,700 copies on Steam. Almost everyone who reviewed it liked this peaceful sandbox, and it is ranked 1196 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.