City builders are having a big moment right now, and I love ones that play around with the genre to bring a totally different experience to the table. Lauren Mortion recently wrote about her love for the more chilled vibes of cosy city builders. You know, the ones that take the stress of impending invasions or natural disasters away from your sweaty, stressed-out hands. I couldn't agree more, and that's why I immediately fell in love with Bubblegum Galaxy during the Wholesome Direct. Better yet, it has a demo that you can play right now.
It's taken a leaf from Dorfromantik, where I'm piecing different biomes together tile by tile. Each hexagonal piece is one of three colours, some adorned by things like mountains or trees that can be combined to create grand forests or massifs. It's swapped the warm cosiness for more of a pastel celestial vibe, with Bubblegum Galaxy being all about rebuilding planets instead of designing sprawling countrysides.
Racking up a high score is important, but each level also has quests to complete that earn me stars. More stars means more unlocked levels and planets to restore. Some tiles might have special missions attached to them too, like having a certain amount of coloured tiles grouped together or an exact number of tree tiles connected. Completing these missions gives even more tiles, allowing for bigger planets and higher scores.
Wait. Rebuilding planets, you say? Yeah, about that. Bubblegum Galaxy mixes in a bit of a narrative adventure, too. I take on the role of Haco, an adorable cat who I can't quite make out if they're wearing a house-shaped hat or their head is stuck in a kennel. It's their first day at the office as a planet-building intern—until the entire galaxy bluescreens, that is. Naturally, some coworkers think Haco is to blame and are a touch standoffish. Between restoring the galaxy, I can go around and chat with each off-beat employee and find out a bit more about them. Like Bass, who is super into pizza for some reason, or Penti who has more than a few sticks up their butt.
Being able to take a break between levels and spit out some Animal Crossing-style garble at human bunnies, robots or floating star receptionists is something I'm totally here for. It's a nice respite between plugging tiny tiles together, and it seems that the story will eventually unravel just how the galaxy got deleted in the first place. Maybe I'll even be able to befriend a few of my coworkers along the way.
The demo is available on Steam right now. It claims to be about an hour long, but I rather guiltily spent around double that time trying to beat my personal scores and complete each level's quests. It's a devilishly moreish demo, striking the balance between cosy and challenging. If you've been on the quest for a Dorfromantik-like, give Bubblegum Galaxy's celestial twist a whirl. The only downside is that there's no release date yet, meaning I'm gonna have to jump back into the demo more than a few times while I wait.