This is a city development game, and by “city,” I mean just a few blocks that you get to play around with. Blocks & Lots is a really condensed experience. You have six different individuals from society that represent interest groups and will adjust their mood according to your city layout plans. A factory owner, a conservationist, a university head, a home owner, a developer and a renter are all talking heads getting pissed off or smiling, based on how you layout the city.
All you have to do is select the different types of development (manufacturing, open space, housing and so on), and then paint it over the available blocks. A few of the people you’re trying to please are based in certain areas in the city and want you to design around them. Luckily, some are not as demanding in terms of space as the others, so it’s easier to make them happy, but that still comes at the cost of others. The first couple of tasks involve just making one person happy. Then you’re given the instruction to make at least four people happy, and this is where things start to get sticky.
Luckily, to help you out, you can click on their heads to find out what their problem is, and they’ll be quite detailed at times, such as asking for just one more commercial block, and then they’ll be satisfied. If only the fight for space were that easy.
I guess this is what it’s like if you bring in the real-life decisions that people have to make every day into a game. Not that I haven’t played other city development games that involve trying to pander to different political views, as happens on a daily basis. I don’t know what it is about Blocks & Lots that gets me frustrated so much. Perhaps it’s that it derives from a board game, which denotes a smart design based on the use of space. I want to try to cheat the system, but it’s not possible, and I have to take the priorities of one person over the other.
Notably, it doesn’t feel like a board game as the translation has seen enough changes to the computer format, so it’s a quicker experience that doesn’t lose the core considerations for the player. It’s a game that’s supposed to teach you about the thoughts that go into urban development and the politics surrounding them. I just want to take some basic stuff and go live in the wilds now. Just, uh, don’t build on top of my new ranch, okay?