Concrete Jungle ($4.99) by ColePowered is the mobile port of the popular Steam game that came out in 2015. Think of Hearthstone meets Sim City meets puzzle game, as it is a mashup of various genres that works out pretty well. If you’ve never played it before, then there’s no better time to jump in than now.
Life has been fairly hectic for me lately, which is expected as I’ve returned to school for a completely different subject matter than what I studied five years ago. So when I have some time to relax nowadays, there’s nothing more I like to do than just sit down and kick back with a good game on my iPhone 7. I’ve gone through many game titles before, but the ones that stick out the most are the genre mashup ones, like Solitairica and Severed. I like these games because they combine familiar elements to create something entirely new, and they’re usually fairly addictive. I had not heard of Concrete Jungle before, but I noticed it featured on the App Store this week and had to give it a try. Needless to say, it’s going to be one of those games I’ll just keep coming back to when I need to unwind.
One of the things that caught my attention with Concrete Jungle were the graphics. Since I haven’t heard of the game before this week, I was intrigued because the game board is packed with an incredible amount of detail, even on the smaller screen of my iPhone 7. The board is composed of an isometric block of earth, and you can even see the various textured layers of the Earth’s crust from the sides. Each square holds various building structures, which appear miniature in the grand scheme of things, but the game doesn’t skimp out on the features of each individual property. The colors used are fairly realistic of how things are in reality, and I found everything to be laid out in an organized fashion — you shouldn’t be too lost after going through the tutorial and playing a few games on your own. I also love the art style of the characters, as they all appear hand-drawn and painted, and are bursting with their own unique charm and personalities. On the audio side, the game has a soothing soundtrack, realistic sound effects, and some pretty great voice acting.
There are two modes in Concrete Jungle: Campaign (story) Mode and Custom Game, which includes Solo, Versus, Classic — any of these can be saved and loaded with the “Load Game” option until they’re complete. If you’re a newbie like me, then I recommend going through the Campaign, since it will show you the ropes, and the game itself can be rather difficult. The Custom Games let you play solo or versus AI or local players, and you can tweak the game length and other settings to your liking, including an endless option. Regardless of how you choose to play, the goal remains the same: clear city blocks by gathering up the required amount of points from residents on that block. However, you’ll end up building your own puzzles as you get further in the game, as you’ll realize that you’ve created zoning issues depending on earlier actions.
So how do you play? As you start each game, you’ll have about 12 cards in your deck, with your starting hand appearing on the left side of the screen. The highlighted cards are what you can play right now, and if it’s multiple options, just tap on the one you want to play. Each card consists of a building, such as a house, business (shop, restaurant, brewery, etc.), or even negative-but-necessary-for-economy structures, like factories. With each card, you’ll see that it may have a positive (blue) or negative (red) impact on adjacent or nearby squares, so you have to observe these and take them into consideration as you plan out the city. You must clear out the first line (closest to you) by meeting the required number of residents for the block, which ends up getting trickier as you go. When you clear out a specific number of blocks (watch the population gauge in the top right), you’ve completed the stage and can move on to the next level or game. If you need to force clear a column, just tap on the button in the top left — but watch out, it costs one life to do so, and you only get three hearts.
Also, each card has a level, which is indicated by the number in the colored diamonds in the top right of each card. The orange number represents the expenditure cost, which affects the target goal for each column that you need to clear out. The yellow number is the card’s economy point distribution, so once the gauge fills up in the top right of the screen, you get a “purchase” that can nab you a new card for your deck. But you can only choose one out of four random cards, so pick wisely.
You gain experience points whether you are successful with a level or not (more are awarded if you are, though), and once you reach the next rank, you get to add a new building card to your deck. The game also has a total of eight available characters that you can play as, though they must be unlocked, and each one has their own kind of play style that affects the game. Up to three stars can be earned for each stage as well, depending on how many points you manage to rack up by the time you complete it.
I’m a bit late to the Concrete Jungle party, so I’m still trying to get the hang of things, but so far I’m enjoying the game a lot. I love the amount of detail that the developers have put into the game, and it looks great even on my iPhone 7 (it’s recommended for larger device screens). The mashup of deck building, city planning simulation, and puzzle is interesting, challenging, and rather addictive, as I can’t help but keep trying after I have failed numerous times already. I found the controls to be pretty simple, and while it takes some time to understand the rules and objectives, Concrete Jungle is a very fun game once you know the basics. It’s definitely a challenge, so expect this one to last you a while.
I recommend checking out Concrete Jungle if you haven’t done so already. You can find Concrete Jungle on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $4.99. There are no in-app purchases.