Invent civilization in city builder Sumerians

Here's a city builder for you, but like, literally building the city. As in you're building the concept of cities. Sumerians hit Steam Early Access this week as a pretty enticing demo of what's to come in the game's future. It's focused on the basics of how early cities evolved, with you as manager for the state in charge of building up the walls, zoning for civilian construction, hiring workers for state projects and storage, expanding the irrigation network, and maintaining the varied temples or monuments. The historical divide between property which is owned by the state and can be used for public works, versus all other private property which is merely taxed, is quite well reflected in the game mechanics.

As the prosperity of your city grows, more and more migrants will want in—but urban problems like theft and crime will begin to rear their heads. The release build is a nice, very playable demo for the game and has the kind of UX features—like production graphs—that make the genre a pleasant experience.

Indie developer Decumanus Games wants to add a lot more during early access, with "fishing, husbandry, administration/palaces, more buildings and products, big temples, higher level of houses, land trade, oxen-carts and more regions" all on the table. Would love an ox-cart. All I've got now are filthy donkeys. How am I supposed to build a majestic Ziggurat when all I've got are donkeys?

The dawn-of-civilization city builder has a long history in PC games, and I'm glad to see it coming back. Past titles have mostly focused on Egypt, so the alternate mesopotamian aesthetics of Sumerians come to the fore: Lots of colorfully glazed bricks and copious barley production. Stuff of legends right there.

Decumanus thinks Sumerians will be in Early Access for 8-12 months. You can find Sumerians on Steam (opens in new tab), where it sells for $15. 

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.