The demo for settlement-builder and survival RPG Bellwright got a nice reception at Steam Next Fest earlier this year, racking up enough daily players to sit at the top of the list along with games like Lies of P and Warhaven.
For those eager to play more of it, I don't have great news: you'll unfortunately have to wait just a little bit longer to dive back in. As seen at PC Gaming Show: Most Wanted today, Bellwright (which had planned a December release) is now coming in early 2024. It'll launch into early access on Steam.
To tide you over, at least there's a new trailer showing all the stuff you'll get to do—and there's quite a lot in Bellwright to keep you busy. In a land "on the brink of collapse," it's up to you to fight back against an oppressive monarchy, but you'll start quite humbly by picking up sticks and rocks. You'll happen across a small village of farmers, vendors, and other NPC locals, but you won't be settling down there. You're gonna build your own darn town, stick by stick and eventually brick by brick.
I played the Bellright demo myself, and the process of building a settlement is slow yet completely engrossing. I obsessed over every single little building, which I truly built one stick at a time, until I finally had a place to sleep, a hut for resource storage, and a cooking pit for food. The idea of building a whole town using the same meticulous process was daunting, but that's the thing about Bellwright: you can recruit help. Gain an NPC follower and you can put them to work in your settlement. Those tiresome little tasks like collecting rocks and herbs and mushrooms can be delegated to your new settler. They'll help you farm and build and hunt, and you can even assign them tasks at workbenches like making weapons, clothing, and armor, so your town can grow even when you're not around to do it all yourself.
Meanwhile there's a big open world to explore, and you'll stumble across neutral NPCs who need your help, hostile thugs and bandits you can battle with, and wild animals you can hunt or be hunted by. It's a full-on survival experience, too, so you'll need to eat, drink, rest, and take care of any injuries you sustain. There's a full quest system, too, as you help out people from the nearby village or others you come across while exploring. I didn't get all that far in the demo, but when I stopped playing my little settlement had a few meager huts and a couple of helpful followers, and all the work I put into it felt satisfying when I could sit back and watch my settlers complete the chores I assigned them.
I should mention there's reason to be a bit cautious before you throw yourself into the settlement building life next year. Bellwright was developed by Donkey Crew, the same studio behind the promising and once popular MMO Last Oasis, which unfortunately had a ton of struggles in early access—initially it went offline and offered refunds, was later rebuilt entirely when the developer realized "it sucks," and it still remains in early access today with mixed reviews on Steam. Hopefully, Bellwright will have a smoother time of it and someday get a full 1.0 launch.