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Civilization meets Stardew Valley in new Steam game with a dark twist

Fusing the historical themes of Civilization, the management of Cities Skylines and farming elements of Stardew, this Steam game is a must.

Civilization meets Stardew Valley in new Steam game with a dark twist: A traditional Chinese painting of a man wearing a green kimono and traditional hat holding a tray with soup and rice on it

As a history graduate, if there’s one thing I love to see in videogames, it’s an authentic historical setting. Yet, the titanic Civilization has never really inspired me because I’m not the biggest fan of 4X games. So, imagine my face when The Bustling World, a beautiful-looking new Steam game that combines ancient Chinese history with Stardew-style farming and Cities Skylines-esque management, crossed my desk. Safe to say I was intrigued.

While the historical Chinese setting and crafting elements caught my eye, The Bustling World’s stunning art style is what reeled me in. You view your settlement from the top down, akin to the action RPG viewpoint that’s synonymous with Diablo and Path of Exile, allowing you to watch your individual citizens go about their daily business.

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That business will largely be mundane tasks like going to work and meeting others, and that’s where the likes of Cities Skylines normally would lose me. But The Bustling World has a dark side, allowing you to commit crimes, kill other citizens and, if you’re looking for some night-time companionship, visit the local den of “avarice and lust.”

You can befriend everyone from paupers to kings – and kill them off later if you’re planning to climb the social ladder. Or, if you prefer to lurk in the shadows, build an underground crime empire and hope you don’t get caught.

Alternatively, you can make an honest living, build your own home, and tend your own farm using traditional Chinese farming methods. You can trade your goods and watch your business thrive; maybe you’ll even manage to be a business tycoon as a result.

A top down view of a Chinese city at night, lit by lanterns as people wander around

But, for me, it’s still the art that has me enthralled (although I will 100% be leading a life of crime, don’t worry). The architecture is based on historical Chinese artwork and, according to the game’s press release, it’s the first to restore traditional Chinese clothing with realistic physics. Yes, that’s very nerdy, but I’m excited, okay?!

And to top all of that off, The Bustling World is the brainchild of FireWo Games, a Chinese couple. Yes, this sprawling world was created by two people, over the course of five years. That, my friends, is an achievement.

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The Bustling World is available to wishlist on Steam now, and has accrued over 150,000 wishlists in just 20 days. So, if you want to keep up with all of the latest news, I suggest you add it to your pile, too.

To keep you busy until we hear more, though, we have a list of all the best city building games, as well as all the best 4X games if you prefer to strategize on a larger scale.

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