We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Civilization 1 inspires unique new city building game you can try now

The original Civilization as well as card games and deckbuilders inspire a unique new city builder that you can try for free this second.

Hexlands Steam city building game: A small township from Steam city building game Hexlands

It’s hard to believe that Sid Meier’s original, groundbreaking Civilization is more than 30 years old. With Civilization 7 apparently in the works, and dozens of strategy games inspired by that landmark first entry, like Millennia, Manor Lords, and even Frostpunk 2, the spirit of Civ 1 still feels very much alive. Blending deckbuilder, card game, and even small roguelike elements, one new city builder, created by a single developer, takes stylistic inspiration from Micropose’s classic. Available to try right now, if you want a change from the Cities Skylines 2 formula, or a card-driven alternative to Anno 1800 and Tropico 6, this is certainly worth your time.

Welcome to HexLands, a new city building game from the one-person team of Portgate Studios. Civilization is listed as a direct influence. The creator also jokingly notes they were listening to the Age of Empires soundtrack while programming and designing. But don’t let the visual similarities – those glorious, bright colors and the crisp hex-based layout – trick you into thinking this is a simple homage. The cut and thrust here is very different.

YouTube Thumbnail

In HexLands, rather than raising an army and taking everything by force, your goal is to peacefully settle and cultivate as many locations as possible. Instead of straightforwardly mining resources and processing them into buildings, you need to wisely play your cards, assigning the right constructions and projects to the right areas in order to maximize production. This is where the roguelike – or roguelite – elements appear, as each run will provide different cards, different tools, and very different outcomes, as you play and replay to try and boost your score.

There’s an even more intense time-limit mode, and, at the other end of the scale, a chilled sandbox mode. “Please keep in mind that I’m just a solo but passionate developer,” HexLands’ creator says. “This is not a triple-A experience with hours and hours of content. I love Civilization, but HexLands is not really close to the 4X genre. What I’m creating is a simple at first sight but hard to master game. And you don’t even have to get a second mortgage to afford it.”

If you want to try HexLands for yourself, you can apply to join the first playtest right now, right here.

Alternatively, check out the best strategy games, or maybe go a little larger and more ambitious with the best grand strategy games on PC.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.