Townscaper: Relaxing joy in building towns

A colourful town made in Townscaper with 11 houses in a range of colours, including green, blue, red, yellow, purple and white.

It’s been a week of procrastinating on real work and chilling out by playing video games, which I’m content with. A time will come when days of gaming and enjoying idleness will be a rarity, so I’m making the most of it whilst I still can.

Earlier this week, during my habitual Twitter scrolling, I stumbled across the demo version of Townscaper. This can be played in your web browser, which is exactly what I did several times this week for a bit of easy and quick fun.

The game is very minimalist — or at least the demo version is — and is just building by clicking. But its simplicity makes construction feel relaxing, and the colourful towns you create make for some pleasing eye candy.

When I first started, my earliest attempts focused on just seeing what was possible.

A tiny colourful town made in Townscaper with 5 houses. The colours are purple, red, yellow and blue.
A slightly larger town made in Townscaper with 6 houses in blue, yellow, white and red colours.
An equally sized town with a 4-storey red tower and 5 houses in yellow, green, blue and purple colours.

This was my first real attempt at building a town that I could imagine someone living in:

A colourful town made in Townscaper with 11 houses in a range of colours, including green, blue, red, yellow, purple and white.

I experimented with different colours and a few different building shapes. I also kept the paths between houses quite spacious as I quite like open spaces.

For most of these towns, you’ll notice there’s always a red and yellow house. You always start with these when you load up the demo. I discovered quite late that if you click on a constructed block and hold for just a second, then release, it deletes that block. Thus, in most towns I decided to incorporate the starter houses.

I then continued to experiment with the shapes of towns and buildings. I asked several questions:

  • How tall can I build?
  • What if I try building on water?
  • How wide can I make a building?
  • What if I build houses on top of houses?

I also built some skyscrapers. Turns out you can build up to 15 storeys!

This was my second attempt to build a town I could imagine someone living in, keeping my experiments in mind to make something fun and varied:

A colourful town made in Townscaper consisting of 16 houses and a 6-storey white tower out on the water. House colours include red, green, yellow, blue and purple. Six houses extend onto water.
Opposite angle of the above town.
Another angle of the above town.

The demo version does limit how far out you can build, which does restrict your town. This just means I’ll have to consider paying for the full game.

You can enable gridlines in the settings (as seen below) to get the full scope of your building area.

The above town but with gridlines enabled in settings, showing the black squares you can build on in the water.

Of course, there’s still plenty of fun that can be had with the demo version. For example, you can make words with buildings. I spelt out my name:

Using towers to spell "John" in Townscaper. J is in yellow, O in red, H in green, N in purple.

Or you can cry out for help:

Spelling "HELP" with towers in Townscaper. H is in yellow and red, E in green, L in blue, P in purple.

Alternatively, you can express some immaturity:

It was at this stage I learnt you can delete the foundations under the buildings in the same way you can delete the blocks of houses.

My creations are not overly imaginative or impressive. Much more visually stunning towns can be created with the full game and more time.

It was thanks to Christa Peterson that I found this game. She shared her beautiful towns on Twitter:

The game was developed by Oskar Stålberg, who shares other people’s constructions via his Twitter. This is worth checking out for some more impressive town designs.

You can play the demo for free in your web browser, or you can buy the full game via several online stores — including Steam, Google Play, the iOS App Store, among others.