One of the coolest upcoming city builders now has a free demo on Steam, and you should try it

Laysara: Summit Kingdom"

I've almost lost count of all the interesting-looking city builders coming in 2023: medieval strategy Manor Lords, urban city builder Cities: Skylines 2, and dark fantasy colony sim Gord are all due out later this year—and maybe (hopefully?) societal city builder Frostpunk 2 will join them too, though we haven't gotten official word on that yet. 

Then there's Laysara: Summit Kingdom, which is maybe the most interesting of the bunch because it just looks so cool. The city builder has an exceedingly neat twist: you're building your city on the steep cliffs of a mountaintop rising out of the clouds. Along with hazards like avalanches that can bury your town, building on the slopes of a mountain presents a lot of logistical challenges as you'll have to carefully manage your production chains and transport networks over the tricky, nearly vertical landscape.

The good news is that if you're up for the challenge, you can try it right now on Steam thanks to its first free demo

I've been playing the demo and it's really neat, especially since you can zoom out and rotate the mountain around in 3D to access building opportunities on all sides of it. And it doesn't take long to get a sense of how tricky, not to mention how lovely, the game is. 

For instance, the upper levels of the mountain provided me a great spot to mine for copper to turn into utensils, as well as fertile lands where I could build bee farms to generate honey. But all those goods need to be able to reach the markets I've built on the lower levels of the mountain, so I had to build a network of roads, bridges, and motorized shafts, and use them to set up supply chains to make sure my resources could get to where they're needed. Naturally, those supply chains need a healthy supply of citizens, too, who need houses and access to markets, and those markets need their own supply chains from farms and other resource-producing buildings. There's a lot of moving parts that need to be connected to make it all work.

I've already built on two separate lower levels, connecting them with a bridge across a deep gorge, and on one of the upper levels, which is connected with a motorized shaft that can transport goods and workers like a giant pulley system. Maybe my favorite part is I need more than just citizens in the workplace: I need a lot of yaks to operate my mines and mills. Laysara is a very yak-centric game, with yak research, advanced yak breeding, a "yak shack," and even a yak counter at the top of the screen so I can keep a close eye on my yak tally along with my human citizens. Not to mention my yaks also generate wool and milk. I'm not sure I've ever seen a game with so many yak-mechanics. Mechanyaks?

Developer Quite OK Games hasn't announced a concrete release date, but it looks like the plan is still to release Laysara: Summit Kingdom into early access on Steam sometime later this year. I sure hope it does! The demo is extremely promising and I can't wait to play more.

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.