We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank ColePowered Games for the review copy of Concrete Jungle used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
What would you get if you combined a city builder game like Sim City with a deck building card game like Dominion? It would look a lot like the recently released Steam game Concrete Jungle created by ColePowered Games. Concrete Jungle began life as a small indie game titled MegaCity which was released back in 2011. After a successful KickStarter Concrete Jungle was created as a sequel to MegaCity. While I have never played MegaCity, as soon as I saw Concrete Jungle I knew that it had the potential to be a fantastic game. While it takes a little while to adjust to, Concrete Jungle is an addicting experience that makes city planning fun.
Sim City The Card Game
In Concrete Jungle you play as a city planner for Caribou City. You are responsible for planning out how to set up the city. You will be presented with a plot of land and cards that will be used to build buildings on the land. Out of the cards in your hand you will have to choose between a couple of them to determine which one to place and where you would like to place it. When a card is placed on the board the corresponding building is built into the city and the various effects attached to the building are applied.
The basics are deceptively simple but there is a lot of strategy to the game. You need to put some planning into building the city in order to score points. The objective of the game is to score a certain number of points in every row. You score points by placing point scoring buildings into your city and then using the benefits of other buildings to increase the value of the space that the point scoring buildings were built on. Whenever the first row reaches the required number of points it is cleared and a new row is added to the back of the board. Concrete Jungle rewards you for planning ahead though since you receive bonus points if you can build your city in a way that you can clear multiple rows at a time.
Next come the deck building mechanics. For those of you not familiar with deck building card games, the main idea is that you start with a set of cards and through various actions you can add or remove cards from your deck. Some of the cards in the deck are one-time use while others are continually recycled and can be reused. When you have used up all of the cards, the recycled cards are shuffled and put back into play.
While playing the game you will end up changing the composition of your deck. Every card in the game has a cost and an economic value. When you reach enough economic value you receive a point that can be used to purchase special abilities or be used to purchase additional building cards that will be added to your deck. You need to keep track of the cost though since incur too much cost your target score for each row will increase making it more difficult to successfully complete a row.
Concrete Jungle has some more mechanics but I am not going to get into them in this review. After reading all of that you might be thinking that Concrete Jungle is a complicated game. I will say that the game does take a while to get a hang of but it is easy to play once you adjust to it. While it will take some time to figure out the strategy behind the game, you will pick it up pretty quickly. The game’s campaign does a very good job slowly introducing new mechanics with each mission introducing one new mechanic.
While Concrete Jungle is pretty easy to get a hang of, there is still plenty of strategy in the game. There is a lot of planning that goes into building your city. In order to maximize your score you need to plan ahead in order to maximize bonuses. The game has so many different ways that you can score points that two games are rarely going to be the same. The game offers plenty of opportunities to craft your own strategies so you can play the game however you want.The game just does such a great job blending all of the mechanics together which allows many different paths to victory with each strategy having different strengths and weaknesses.
Competitive City Planning
Concrete Jungle has two main types of levels. So far I have mostly been talking about the more traditional building levels. In these levels you need to build up the city until you reach the target row. Most of these levels provide some unique challenge that keeps these levels fresh. Of the two types of levels I personally preferred this style of level.
The other main type of level and the basis for the multiplayer is the head to head city planning. In these levels players will go head to head building on the same plot of land. Each player has control over some land that only they can build on and there is also some land that anyone can build on. The objective in this mode is to build up enough points in each row that you outscore your opponent. This means that the players are trying to build up their own points while also trying to sabotage their opponent. Players score points if they reach their target level but if they fail to reach that level all of the points go to the player that scored the most points in that row. This can make the mode really competitive since the two players will have to fight over land and try to mess up the other player’s plans.
While I have yet to play the game against another human opponent, I think the game did a good job building up the competitive game play. While I personally preferred the missions where you built by yourself, I had fun with the head to head building as well. I give the game a lot of credit for creating really good AI since they are no pushovers. They will aggressively attack you at times and provide a good challenge since even when you play a good game you might only win by a couple points.
Other Quick Thoughts
- Currently I have played the game for around seven hours. I am not sure how long the campaign is but based on the amount of space left on the map I would guess that I am around 60-70% done with the campaign. The game also includes multiplayer which could add quite a bit to the length of the game. If the concept intrigues you, you will likely get quite a bit of time out of Concrete Jungle.
- The graphics in Concrete Jungle are fantastic. While you are essentially playing a card game, the game looks like you are playing Sim City. The artistic style in the game is really charming. All of the buildings show a lot of detail and the game even includes little cars that drive around your city as you build it.
- While I haven’t completed the story yet, so far I have found it to be quite charming. The story revolves around helping another city planner as she tries to save the city from others who would rather see the city destroyed/ruined. The story is even kind of funny which is not something I would have expected from the game. The voice acting is also well done.
- Some of the missions seem a little long. While you can save in the middle of a mission, some of the missions can take at least a half hour. If you end up failing the mission you are then forced to repeat the whole mission which kind of sucks.
Should I Purchase Concrete Jungle?
Concrete Jungle is one of those type of games that come out of nowhere and are a pleasant surprise. While you wouldn’t think a deck building game and a city building game would work well together, they for some reason do. While it takes a while to figure out, once you get a hang of the game it quickly becomes pretty addicting. I know I got into situations where I kept telling myself “just one more game.” The main reason Concrete Jungle works so well is that while simple to play there is so many options for strategy within the game. In order to succeed in Concrete Jungle you need to think ahead and plan out how to best use all of your cards.
If you don’t like deck building card games and don’t care for the city building aspects of the game you probably won’t like Concrete Jungle. If the concept behind the game interests you at all, I would highly recommend that you look into purchasing the game. Concrete Jungle is a great game and is one of the biggest surprises I have played in quite a while.
Concrete Jungle was released on Steam today (September 23rd, 2015) and retails for $15.99.