Spiritlands is a strategic adventure city builder developed and published by indie developer Prey Interactive, a single young female developer based in the UK. In a world stifled by greed and corruption, where governments have collapsed and chaos dominates the earth, you set sail to a new land, the mythical “eighth continent” known as the Spiritlands. This land, once said to have been ravaged by ancient wars is now humanity’s last bastion, and it’s down to you to establish the new world.
Like Cities: Skylines and other such games, Spiritlands has a population that has certain requirements. Your settlers will need housing, food, water and power, and you’ll probably want to keep them happy, too. Building and resource management are both very nice and simple in this game. One building takes up one “tile” on the map, no more and no less. Some buildings like farms, which have to be build on grass, quarries, which have to be built on hills, and mines, built on mountains, produce resources for your population – food, stone and coal respectively. Some buildings like houses don’t produce but allow you to improve your settlement in other ways. More houses will allow more settlers, but they also consume coal, and your new settlers will consume food, so you need to make sure you have enough of each of those, as well as sustainable stone and wood production so you can build and upgrade. Spiritlands lacks the micromanagement found in other games like Cities: Skylines, making it much more appealing to those who just want a stripped back city builder.
The main menu gave me a few options, but I was only interested in the new game and tutorial buttons. Logically, I stepped into the tutorial, and, I must say, I was a little bit disappointed. The tutorial is less of a tutorial and more of a digital instruction booklet. Granted, it is a very detailed instruction booklet, but with just text and images, it is a booklet regardless. Writing this now, I feel a bit bad because Prey Interactive seems to have put a lot of effort into it.
Unfortunately, I tend to learn best through doing, so I skimmed the tutorial and just jumped straight into a new game. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the pixel art style, but it’s grown on me since and I think the game actually looks very nice.
Spiritlands has 4 friendly colonies on each map, and an undefined amount of single-tile enemy camps which will attack you once you discover them unless you pay them off with a random “special resource” or destroy their camp. I didn’t know how to attack and the tutorial isn’t available in the pause menu, rather annoyingly, so I had to exit to the main menu to check how to attack them. Unbeknownst to me, Spiritlands doesn’t autosave upon exiting and it hadn’t warned me it wouldn’t save either, so I lost that settlement. Armed with a screenshot from the instruction booklet, I created a new save and began my domination of the surrounding area. Soon, I found one of the previously mentioned friendly colonies, a mining colony. The 4 colonies consist of a mining colony (produces coal), a woodlander colony (produces wood), a stonecutter colony (guess what they produce) and a Port colony that seems to be able to give you food, but I’m not 100% sure on them. You can either befriend them by giving them the resources they need, or you can attack them, but I can’t seem to find any benefit in that other than being able to take the land. I decided to befriend the miners.
The mining colony wanted wood, so I gave them a few thousand units. Once a certain donation threshold is reached, the colony upgrades their buildings, allowing them to produce more of whatever material they produce, handy once you get the “Friendly” or “Allied” status with them, which awards you with a small cut of their produce every 60 seconds.
I found now that I couldn’t upgrade my town hall to improve my circle of influence any more. I was confused at first, but I soon realised it was because I directly bordered the mining colony and upgrading would mean pushing into their land. I had a choice now; attack them and take their land – which risked my own settlement and would cause me to lose my only ally – or just found a new colony of my own. I decided with the latter. New settlements are created by upgrading campfires used to scout the land. Once the new town hall is formed, you need to give it some resources from your pool in the original settlement, known as the Capital. Once that is done, the settlement is ready to go. Special resources (resources other than food, wood, stone and coal) are shared between all settlements but basic resources are not. Prey Interactive says they intend to introduce “trains” in the future to allow settlements to share basic resources and workers. I felt a little overwhelmed, having to take care of two settlements at once, but the feeling soon passed and it was fairly easy to look after both of them.
My time with Spiritlands has not been flawless. After losing my first save, I considered just giving up on the game, and since then, I have experienced quite a few bugs, some even verging on making the game unplayable, like when all my buildings turned invisible.
The game still needs some improvement; I would love to see an interactive tutorial, or at the least a button in the pause menu to view the instruction booklet from anywhere, and there are a few bugs that need to be squashed, but I think overall Spiritlands is a great, simplistic city builder that I will continue playing as the game evolves.
Like what you have read, grab the game now on steam, links below