The Wandering Village is a city-building game on a dinosaur

The Wandering Village is a city-building game like no other, as Stray Fawn has devised a story that's not just fun to play, but has roots in real-life

The Wandering Village is a city-builder game with an ecological twist: Giant dinosaur creature looks down with a smile as people build a city on its flat back

The Wandering Village innovates on the traditional city-building game format by challenging players to create their new metropolis on the back of a huge, meandering dinosaur. Tasked with keeping your scaly companion happy, you’ll have to navigate ever-changing weather conditions and ecological challenges to keep your population alive in humanity’s time of need.

Set in a time where global warming and toxic fumes have corrupted the very soil beneath our feet, The Wandering Village is a story both of survival and human innovation. With the earth rendered uninhabitable, the last vestiges of society have chosen to rebuild on top of a magnificent wandering being known as ‘The Colossus.’

Our survivors, however, refer to it as ‘Onbu,’ the Japanese word for ‘to carry on one’s back’ – pretty neat, huh?

Seeking to test avid city-builder enthusiasts’ skills and present a story with real depth, I spoke to Stray Fawn Studio’s game designer Larissa Wild at Gamescom about creating a story with real depth.

The Wandering Island city-builder game with ecological twist: A large dinosaur walks through green canyon-like area with large flat area of land on its back

“We wanted to do more than just make a game, we wanted to make a difference,” Wild tells me as we traverse The Wandering Village’s spectacular world together. “We wanted to give our game real meaning, which is why we chose to focus on the effects of global warming and pollution on the environment.”

Its these two factors that have driven humanity onto the back of The Colossus, as the world below is steeped in an eerie smog that’s not dissimilar to the fog that clouds the skylines of Beijing and other pollution-heavy nations. As you peer down from the back of your saviour, the world below is a stark reminder of what could’ve been – and, conversely, what could be for us.

Amidst the green fumes there is still beauty, though, as The Colossus will wander through a slew of unique environments. Players are given ample warning to adapt to their new surroundings and prepare for the future. A sunny biome is perfect for planting enough food, for example, while snowy mountain peaks will require better housing and amenities.

The thing that makes strategizing even harder is the fact that you have little to no control over your giant companion. It goes where it wants to go, and you can only start to influence its actions by forming a relationship with it. For example, if you want it to take a left into the sunny biome instead of a right into the snow, you’ll have earn its trust. You can do this by activating different research tasks, taking Onbu to areas where it can eat and drink safely, and allowing it to rest when needed. Your relationship is described as “symbiotic,” after all.

Juggling all of this isn’t easy, and Wild confirms that The Wandering Village is build to attract both hardcore and casual players. “There are bits that are really difficult,” she says with a wry smile, “but also we wanted to make it accessible so that all different players can try our game and enjoy it.”

The Wandering Village release date is set for September 14, so if you’re looking to dive into this brave new world you can wishlist it on Steam. In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of the best survival games on PC, as well as the best indie games to wile away that wait.