Watching a trailer of Concrete Jungle you will immediately feel it has a mix of Tetris and Sim City, with elements of a card game. Concrete Jungle contains cards that allow you to place properties in a grid to clear lines and score points. Bringing these elements together works well to create a new experience. This is a puzzle game at heart and making decisions to solve problems is the core of this game.
Concrete Jungle’s game-play is a bit of a one trick pony. The main mechanic is clearing rows of tiles by reaching a given value of points for that row. At the start, each row’s goal is 3 points but that can increase as the game progresses making it harder. The player has a deck of cards and will have a choice of the top two cards if their deck to play. Those cards have buildings and values on them. Where you place these building cards determines possible point values for the rows on or surrounding that placement. There are positive cards and negative cards, some that give bonuses across the map and cards that only affect a single adjacent square. Each card has 2 numbers in the top right hand corner that add towards a positive meter or a negative meter. The positive meter will allow you to add new cards to your deck, some of these cards are a one time use, the negative meter will make the goal for each row that is created in the future require a higher point value to clear thus increasing the challenge.
When playing the campaign your goal is to reach and clear the City Hall row and score as many points as you can along the way. There is a meter telling you how far away you are from this goal. You will receive more experience and unlock new cards by scoring more points and you can earn up to 3 stars based on your performance. You will be tempted to “Tetris” a map by setting up the board so that clearing the first row chains the remaining rows gaining a bonus. Eventually you will unlock a skill tree that gives you some abilities as well as additional cards. As you complete rows this will fill another meter which generates “free lives”, should you be unable to clear a row, you may use one of these lives to clear it for you. If you have no more lives and cannot clear the next row in line, it is game over. You may restart a map at anytime and if you failed you can still collect a small number of points for your efforts.
Concrete Jungle has a very nice look, the interface works well, you can control the game with mouse/keyboard or with a game-pad. The tutorial is fairly painless and can be rushed though if desired. There is some humor in the voice acting and the story, however not much more than one would expect for a puzzle game, it’s does the job fairly painlessly. The music reminds me of a light pop techno if such a genre exists.
The game boasts over 200 cards, and they are all included in the price, no micro-transactions, very refreshing these days. There is enough content here to keep a puzzle-person entertained for awhile, provided you enjoy the mechanic of placing buildings to clear rows.
In addition to the campaign mode there is also Custom and VS modes. If you enjoy the base game, you should enjoy having these additional modes that allow customization and competitive multiplayer play. You can play online or local multiplayer, a feature that is welcomed, we need more games that be played locally especially with Steam’s big picture mode.
After this review is done I don’t think I will be playing much more Concrete Jungle, it was interesting and if you really like puzzle games I’m sure you will enjoy it for awhile. I do like the style and I hope this company continues to work on game development as they do have a good understanding of how a game should look, feel and handle.
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