Relax and unwind with this stress-free city builder sandbox

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City builders typically present you with goals and challenges like balancing your budget, controlling your pollution levels, managing your resources, and keeping your citizens happy (or in the case of survival city builders, keeping them from dying horribly). 

But sometimes you just want to build for the sake of building without worrying about traffic or logistics or how much things will cost or what bonus a house will get from a nearby park. Sometimes you just want a sandbox city builder with no restrictions, objectives, or headaches.

For times like those, there's a city builder headed your way that wants you to have a completely carefree building experience. It's called Gourdlets (opens in new tab), the work of solo developer Aunty Games. It looks both relaxing and adorable, and there's absolutely no objectives, no budgets, and no goals beyond just building an attractive little village filled with houses, trees, roads, parks, beaches, gardens, and other decorations.

The best part (and the reason the game is named Gourdlets) is that while you're building your city, a little cable car will pull up and tiny little two-legged vegetable people will embark and begin exploring and enjoying your town. They won't just walk around to see the sights, they'll also interact with the things you build. Make a beach and a chunky little Gourdlet will build a sandcastle. Set up a park and another will happily toast marshmallows over a campfire. They'll sit on your benches, go fishing in your ponds, and water your flowers. Darn cute stuff! You can even see them react to changes of weather, opening up their wee little umbrellas when it rains and building snowmen in the winter.

As someone who spends a lot of time in survival city builders watching my citizens die miserable and starving in the snow, this is the sort of soothing change of pace I can fully get behind. Gourdlets is planned for a 2023 release on Steam (opens in new tab), but there's a free demo out now (opens in new tab) and you can play it right in your browser. 

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

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.