Before We Leave has finally come around to console. Starting on your island in a galaxy of planets, your peeps emerge from a bunker years after a calamity to rebuild. With the help of a much-needed tutorial, and a helpful speedup button, you’ll soon have a fully functioning village; but this is just the start.
Before We Leave is a peaceful city builder with no rivals or bandits to worry about. Being the only civilization in the galaxy, your peeps have no barriers in the way to rebuild not only their village but rebuilding the galaxy. The lack of competition and freedom to build anywhere you see fit makes the open few hours enjoyable and relaxing. Like all people, your peeps need food and water, and providing it takes one building for every few peeps on an island.
Release Date: April 5th, 2022 (PS5, PS4) | May 8th, 2020 (Xbox) | May 14th, 2021 (PC)
Developer: Balancing Monkey Games
Availability: PSN, Microsoft Store, Steam
Having a lack of food or water has no dire penalty. The lack of a necessary resource only will cause your peeps to operate at a slower pace. What seems like an essential resource is only a time-saver, as a starving island still seems to operate quickly when your speed the game up with the fast forward button.
Different materials are required to upgrade your tech tree, and various research allows for creating new buildings. To continue to grow, you must explore and colonize new islands and even new planets. Additional resources can be found on different islands, while other research materials are found on farther islands or planets. Before We Leave blends building and exploring well, as you must explore to build and build more to explore.
With many city builders, collecting resources and waiting for a building can be tedious. Before We Leave comes with a slow down or fast forward button. This allows you to speed up tedious tasks or slow down and plan your next big venture.
Different music plays over your villages as you use the fast forward button, which gets louder if you zoom into the houses. With no real threats looming Before We Leave can be very relaxing to play. That is… until you leave your first planet and get a warning message. At this point, giant planet-sized space whales come from other parts of the galaxy to eat your resources, buildings, and peeps. Doing massive strafe runs every few minutes, these whales finally add some tension.
This tension can be short-lived, as with the proper research, you can install massive shields to protect your planets or space elevators to feed the whales and save your planets. It’s around this point Before We Leave beings to stall. You colonize a new world, building the required buildings in the same order. You then colonize the new islands with the same technique, set up shipping routes, rinse, and repeat.
Mid to late-game can become very repetitive. After seeing the few different options of islands, you can access all the materials needed. Exploration and colonization at that point have no real goal, and the tedious gameplay has no payoff. After having protection from the whales, they become nothing more than background noise you eventually forget exists.
Not only does exploration stall, but managing multiple islands across multiple planets becomes almost impossible. With different weather systems creating new problems, you forget about many cities and even ignore issues. Without any real penalties, ignoring a hurting city bears no weight, as they will still be just fine and serve their purpose for the greater good of the solar system. The controls to this game make transitioning from planet to planet difficult and island hoping all the same.
Being further in the game means different buildings are available to try and keep your peeps happy and working hard. While managing thousands of peeps, you tend to forget to see them as individuals and only a village as a whole. I found myself only building the bare necessities on an island and playing the game at 4X speed. Even if my peeps weren’t happy, after checking in on my other planets and islands, any tasks given would be completed by the time I got back around.
Before We Leave and a fun art style, enjoyable music, and simple controls, this is perfect for someone looking for a relaxing city builder that doesn’t demand so much. But while the early parts help this game shine, the mid to late-game grind will make you forget it. After one playthrough, you see everything the game has to offer, and after grinding the same gameplay again, you’ll have little to no desire to start again.
This game has the foundations for a fun city builder and is the first title by the new developer Balancing Monkey Games. While the rest of this game doesn’t take off, it serves as a good starting point for the company. Should they continue in city builders, they have the foundation for something even better.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5.
Summary - Not BadSummary - Not Bad
- The early gameplay is a simple city builder, and the lack of tension makes you only see the good and fun of exploration and expansion.
- Trade routes between islands are interesting to set up, allowing you to transfer plentiful resources from one island to another that needs it more.
- Watching massive space whales come to eat your buildings and peeps make you not realize how much they just set you back.
Mid to Late Game
- No tension leads to your forgeting or ingoring your villages you dont need anymore.
- After obtaining each resource earlier on, further exploration can seem pointless.
- Managing multiple islands and planets can become very tedious and difficult.