Looking for a nonviolent, relaxing, top-down building game with a plot
September 16, 2013 10:48 PM   Subscribe

I liked Sim City, Age of Empires, and Civ, but I don't feel like fighting or freaking out about taxes or earthquakes. Click-management puzzle games and sandboxes are just boring. Glitch was awesome-- nonviolent, open-ended, good graphics-- except it wasn't really a top-down building game and I don't care about involving friends. Katamari Damacy was great, but too fast-paced and again, not a building game. What game am I looking for? Preferably for a PC; can't do zombies or apocalypse as a theme, very light cartoon violence might be OK, don't care what era it's from. Puzzles or video board games might be OK if they have complexity beyond the actual game. I'm aware that this might be too specific; looking for suggestions even if they aren't a perfect fit.
posted by blnkfrnk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 79 users marked this as a favorite
I always recommend Railroad Tycoon II, but it's as old as the hills and I can't even get my legit copy to play now (it's a win XP game. I've had it working under Crossover on a mac). It was buildy, the graphics were good enough, and the closest thing to combat was the stock market.
posted by pompomtom at 10:52 PM on September 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't played them extensively, but you might like cities in motion and cities in motion 2.
posted by poe at 10:54 PM on September 16, 2013

If you liked Civ you'd probably like Crusader Kings 2.

There's little animations of soldiers fighting during conquests and a little implied violence, text based notifications of death/murder.

I found out about it from this thread.
posted by M Edward at 11:20 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chris Sawyer’s Locomotion is also a terrific game in the same line (and credited as the inspiration to Cities in Motion).
posted by thebestsophist at 11:22 PM on September 16, 2013

Somehow I missed the "build" requirement. Sorry, CK2 is a empire sort of building but not what you had in mind.
posted by M Edward at 11:23 PM on September 16, 2013

Best answer: Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (and expansions) with various cheats/sandbox mode? The whole shebang is currently $20 on Steam.
posted by Mizu at 11:31 PM on September 16, 2013

Best answer: Zeus, Poseidon, and Cleopatra are my go-to alternatives to Age of Empires. I think you can still get the discs on Amazon for super cheap.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:37 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Zeus, Master of Olympus and the follow up Poseidon scratched that itch for me, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth now (released in 2000) Might be a bit too heavy on the micromanagement. You can get both bundled on GOG for $9.99.

I haven't played any of the more recent Impressions/Tilted Mill games in any depth, but maybe one of the more recent Caesar games would work?
posted by arha at 11:38 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Alpha Centauri is basically Civ II but set in space and with a plot.
posted by Garm at 11:39 PM on September 16, 2013

Minecraft seems to fit the bill.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:43 PM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Constructor is a lovely old building game with cartoon conflict. Its available on Good old games. Its a bit hard though, its worth cheating on your first playthrough and turning off council missions.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:47 PM on September 16, 2013

Oh, also Tropico might fit the bill: fairly laid back building in a banana republic. There is technically some fighting, but its very mild (occasionally your army will have to put down a rebellion)
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:49 PM on September 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's not released yet (due later this year), but Banished is shaping up to be a great game that fits your description perfectly.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 1:00 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It is not a top down building game, but Kerbal Space Program has:

a) Building things
b) Puzzles (how to make a rocket work! In multiple stages! Okay, you figured out how to get to orbit, now try putting a really large thing in orbit!)
c) non-violent (unless you count the cartoon explosions of your failed rocket designs).
d) Open ended - it is a sandbox game.
e) a huge mod community and growing interest with every new release
posted by thewalrus at 1:06 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I will personally Paypal you a $5.99 refund if you don't like King of Dragon Pass.
posted by theodolite at 1:31 AM on September 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

Definitely try Tropico.
There are occasional disasters, but for the most part they are mild, rebellions and military action are very few and far between and if you rule for the good of your people instead of your own corrupt ends then you'll likely as not never see them. Also they pretty much just resolve themselves based on how many rebels there are and how many guardposts you've built.

You might also look over the answers I got from this question.

Oh and there was a game called Banished by Shining Rock Software that was mentioned on the blue a little while back.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:30 AM on September 17, 2013

I'd like to second Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri - as a Civilization-analogue it has a military aspect but I find it generally plays second fiddle to the survival, exploration, terraforming, infrastructure, science and diplomatic aspects of the game, which are uncomplicated but deeply absorbing. The "plot" is interesting without being a straitjacket, and it's a consistently intelligent and thoughtful game. I bought it on release and still play it regularly.

Tropico, mentioned above, has building and economic management at the fore. There is little violence - indeed the game really is about avoiding violence if at all possible.

SimCity can be easily sandboxed: in SC4, disasters can be switched off entirely and there are all kinds of downloadable cheat buildings that will give you all the money you need.
posted by WPW at 5:43 AM on September 17, 2013

I really like The Sims. I build them houses, get them jobs, make them friends, I am their GOD!

If you like building you can do houses, then furnish them.

It's not on the same scale as the other games but it's incredibly engaging.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:57 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking the 1996 game Afterlife from Lucasarts.
posted by inturnaround at 5:58 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you ever tried Transport Tycoon? There's an open-source remake out there.
posted by Magnakai at 6:03 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, it's still kind of fighty, but Rise Of Nations was the perfect lightweight real-time cross between Civ and Age of Empires when I played it back in 2003 or so.
posted by Magnakai at 6:07 AM on September 17, 2013

It doesn't have building, but it has everything else. Have you played Fez yet? Look at the YouTube trailer.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2013

If you can get them to play on your machine, I loved the Rollercoaster Tycoon games, especially the original plus Loopy Landscapes and Corkscrew Follies. You can buy the Gold version that includes all three (original plus two add-ons) for about $25 on Amazon.
posted by juniperesque at 8:19 AM on September 17, 2013

Best answer: Don't Starve is my favorite game right now, and I think it might scratch your itch.

It's roguelike, so you should go in expecting to die a lot and be chill about it. The game mechanics are simple (collect stuff, make stuff, try not to die), but it goes incredibly deep with what the world will let you accomplish. The art style is adorable, there's no real fighting (although you run away from lots of monsters), and when you get a base set up it's really satisfying in that resource management way I look for in city building games.
posted by Freyja at 8:36 AM on September 17, 2013

A Kingdom For Keflings, for Xbox 360, and A World Of Keflings for 360 and/or Windows 8 (and possibly others?) sound pretty close to what you're after. Both should have demos to let you try them out.

Possibly not as complex as the recommendations above -- they're kids' games after all -- but there's no violence, no disasters, nothing bad ever happens, and you get to build your little world as you like it.

Don't dismiss them because they're kids' games; I'm 30ish and male, and I played the crap out of them both a couple years ago!
posted by Dilligas at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second The Sims. On my Sims 2, I rarely ever play, I just build houses.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:45 AM on September 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the excellent suggestions; cities in motion and tycoon-style games are exactly what I am looking for right now, and I'll look into the others as the need occurs!
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:52 PM on September 17, 2013

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