An alternate title for this article would be “Before We Leave – A Game Who’s Aesthetic I Shall Gush About For A Whole Article.”
(I glance around nervously.) I just put that out there so you know what this will be like…
Disclaimer: I have yet to play this game. I am using the store page and information gathered from various videos and sources like Polygon to make my judgement.
SO! What is “Before We Leave?” I’m so glad you asked! “Before We Leave” is a game made by the development studio Balancing Monkey Games that is described as a “non-violent city building gameset on multiple planets in your own cozy corner of the universe.”
You start off very small, like most world builders, but you slowly build up your “nation” to a global scale, and then you get space flight and shoot off towards another planet.
Now that we got the basic bits out of the way, let’s talk about how that game LOOKS!
HO BOY! THIS GAME LOOKS FREAKING GREAT!
I’m sorry. Let’s take a step back, and also get some context for that outburst.
Unlike a lot of people that appear on my Twitter timeline, I really like when a game has a stylized look to it that makes it appear toylike. This feeling was always inside of me, but I only recently became aware of it with the announcement of remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for the Nintendo Switch.
When I saw the trailer for Before We Leave, I immediately fell in love with the game.
Oh, wait. Did you want more information on Before We Leave before I gush on for, like, 40 pages on the art style?
Well, if you insist…
Remember when I mentioned that this game is a “non-violent city builder?” That’s 100% true. There are no militaries, no conflicting nation-states, and not even your own people, called Peeps, die from mismanagement. They will get unhappy, and thus be less productive, but I’m sure you’ll have the prowess as a gamer to turn those frowns upside down.
This is a game about expansion, as is typical for the genre, but the pace you do so seems to be rather fast compared to the likes of, say, Sid Meier’s Civilization, as noted by Polygon writer Nicole Carpenter:
“Though my civilization was becoming more advanced, I was leaving the world a whole lot more polluted, and it was beginning to impact my peeps. I had no choice but to build vegetable fields and houses on polluted lands. (…) And so I expanded again, hoping to find a way to fix the problem, which leveled off for a while before it got way, way worse.”Nicole Carpenter, Polygon
It seems as though you can become the very thing that the game warns against: a civilization so entranced by expansion and exploitation that you destroy the very worlds which give you life.
Let’s now revert our focus back onto those graphics, and how good they look! I already stated that I love it when a game has a very toylike design to its artstyle, but Before We Leave takes it a bit further with its hexagonal grid.
There’s just something about this grid that really, and I mean really, sells me on that toylike aesthetic. This choice somehow makes the game feel more tactile, almost like I could recreate it in a diorama, which is something that is really appealling to me as I constantly strive to make more and more art as this pandemic rages on.
Anyways, apparently, this game has been out since the 8th of May over on the Epic Games Store, and I’m just now hearing about it. Go and give it a try, as it’s currently just a meer $20 or your regional equivalent!
If you can’t click on the hyperlinked text above, here are all the links shared in this article:
Before We Leave Store Link: https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/before-we-leave/home
Polygon Article On Before We Leave: https://www.polygon.com/2020/5/12/21256331/strategy-4x-indie-game-before-we-leave-epic-games-store
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Switch Announcement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U-_XfDGgDw
Before We Leave Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-A0yXP50d4&t=1s