April is a monster month for city builders and colony sims

A knight on horseback looking at a city in the distance
(Image credit: Hooded Horse)

Hope you've got your toolbox handy, because you're going to need it in the weeks ahead: April is quickly shaping up to be a killer month for city builders, settlement builders, and colony sims. If you like surviving the apocalypse, practicing medieval diplomacy, or building cities on the back of a giant flying turtle, April has you covered. Heck, you can even simulate a zombie apocalypse in the city you live in because one of the games below uses real-world map data. Neat.

Whether you like futuristic mega-cities, rustic villages, or cozy little settlements, the builder genre just keeps picking up steam. Last year alone I played 20 new city builders, and 2024 is already on pace to beat that number. There's no time to waste: four of the games on the list below are coming out today alone. Get building!

Manor Lords

Developer: Slavic Magic
Release date: April 26 (early access)

I probably don't need to tell you about strategy city builder Manor Lords: it's been parked in the number two slot of Steam's most wishlisted games for ages. As a medieval ruler, build and manage your village while engaging in battles and diplomacy with lords of other regions. After playing and loving the demo in 2022, I'm itching for more, and Manor Lords is especially impressive since it's the work of a solo developer.

Frostpunk 2 beta

Developer: 11 bit studios
Release date: April TBA

I haven't seen any specific dates for this yet, and it's limited to players who pre-purchase the deluxe digital version of Frostpunk 2 ahead of its July 25 release date—but sometime in April there will be a week-long beta. It won't let us see all of the society sim's features, just the sandbox mode, so we won't get any story flavor from the campaign. Still, it's a chance to check out the survival city builder months before it launches this summer.

Infection Free Zone

Developer: Jutsu Games
Release date: April 11 (early access)

You're not so much building a city as picking one in Infection Free Zone: this apocalypse simulator uses real data from world maps, so you can choose to play in Manhattan, Paris, Tokyo, or your very own neighborhood if you like. Adapt real streets and buildings into a base to protect your town from zombie hordes and bandit invaders. I definitely want to use my very own street to play this.

Ascent of Ashes

Developer: Vivid Storm Interactive
Release date: April TBA (early access)

This colony sim comes from the creators of RimWorld's excellent Combat Extended mod. Build a base in a hostile world, manage and grow your collection of survivors, and battle aliens and raiders in real time (with pause) combat. Ascent of Ashes has hit a few delays on the road to release, but now it's poised to launch this month, though the specific day hasn't been announced yet. 

Vertical Kingdom

Developer: Farlight Games Industry
Release date: April 15

Plenty of cities sprawl outwards, but how about sprawling upwards? That's the goal in card-based roguelike city builder Vertical Kingdom. The taller your city, the better, as you build on mountains, cliffs, floating islands, and even on the back of a massive flying turtle.

Of Life and Land

Developer: Kerzoven
Release date: April 2 (early access)

Build a peaceful yet bustling settlement, expand into new regions, and trade with other colonies in Of Life and Land, which launches today. While you're meeting the needs of your citizens, don't forget about the wildlife around you: animals have their own needs. You'll need to find the delicate balance between civilization and nature or risk the extinction or overpopulation of wildlife.

Also releasing in April:

Planetiles

<a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/2447030/Planetiles/" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" target="_blank">Planetiles | Puzzle Strategy | April 2
Turn empty planets into vibrant colonies in this colorful strategy roguelite.

Oddsparks

<a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/1817800/Oddsparks_An_Automation_Adventure/" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" target="_blank">Oddsparks | Colony Sim| April 24
Recruit adorable wooden bots to create a network of factories in your fantasy village. 

From Glory to Goo | Survival RTS | April 2

<a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/2607060/From_Glory_To_Goo/" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" target="_blank">From Glory to Goo | Survival RTS | April 2
In this isometric survival RTS you build and expand a colony to defend against goopy aliens.

Pathless Woods | Base-building | April 2

<a href="https://store.steampowered.com/app/1726130/Pathless_Woods/" data-link-merchant="store.steampowered.com"" target="_blank">Pathless Woods | Base-building | April 2
Cozy survival and base-building inspired by Chinese culture. Play alone or in co-op. 

City builders and colony sims in early access:

If April isn't stacked enough for you, there are plenty of city builders and colony sims already out in early access:

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.