MSRP: $1.99 or PWYW here.
Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been poking around a lot more at indie games, because although there are a lot of lazy, clumsy games coming out now that things like RPG maker have made game creation so much more accessible, it’s also where some of the most interesting things happen. I’m particularly drawn to indie games that cross genre lines, especially those that manage to blend my prefered genres. While Lord Mayor isn’t the first game I’ve discovered recently to blend puzzle and city-build gameplay (that was Concrete Jungle), it might be the one I’ve enjoyed the most so far.
It has a fantastic old-time aesthetic which I really liked, and I think it was a touch of brilliance to use a soundtrack of classical music (released under the Creative Commons license). It adds a lovely touch of polish that a first-time developer might not have had the resources for otherwise. The gameplay is basic, but requires some measure of strategy, and all told, is a far more cohesive feeling game than most at this price point.
The game itself occurs entirely on a hex-based board. You build housing, resource generating buildings, and service buildings in an attempt to hit the goals of the given scenario. In the tutorial mission, you can almost (but not quite) toss things around willy nilly and still hit your goals, however, I can’t recommend enough taking this time to really learn about the different buildings and how they interact. The rest of the game is definitely less forgiving.
Quite a few buildings are not available until you hit a certain population milestone, however, if you build too compactly early on, you may end up needing to destroy buildings in order to build the newly accessible ones, and while Lord Mayor is flexible enough to allow for some of this, you need to be cognizant of the gold and resource costs of building if you want to hit all your goals in the time limit. You can also fail by allowing any of the metrics – happiness, prosperity, or culture – to bottom out. While there’s no hard number given, there’s a slider for all three that will give you a pretty good idea of when you need to start worrying.
Lord Mayor is a small game, and the developer understands that and priced it accordingly. It won’t keep you up at night, or give you hundreds of hours of fresh content. But it is a far better game than most you’ll find with a $2 asking price. If you’re still unsure, you can download the game for free, play all you like, and then donate what you think it’s worth (or nothing at all, but if you like it, try to toss some money the developer’s way).