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Laysara: Summit Kingdom Early Access Impressions

Laysara: Summit Kingdom is a city builder set in the Himalayan mountains, developed by Quite OK Games and published by Future Friends Games. It launched on Steam early access on April 11, 2024, and has so much going for it already. Tasked with building a thriving settlement on a treacherous mountainside, this unique concept translates into a visual feast that takes you on a progressive journey as you learn more about the land and how you can build on it.

The most immediate impression of Laysara: Summit Kingdom is its breathtaking aesthetic and the developers have done an amazing job with the level of detail. Lush valleys cradle your growing settlement, gradually giving way to snow-capped peaks that pierce the sky. The vibrant art style brings this world to life, making every tiered terrace and winding path a visual delight. Building your city into the mountainside feels like a monumental undertaking but reveals itself as a work of art as you develop and learn new mechanics. There are several location options to start a new game and each mountain comes with a new set of challenges. Mounts differ in shapes, vegetation zone layouts, resource availability and weather conditions.

The game requires you to develop small plots of land on the side of a mountain, erecting rickety bridges to connect to a nearby landmass, while utilising verticality to meander further up the mountain. Resource transportation becomes a strategic challenge, with carefully planned pathways snaking up the mountainside. Limited space forces you to become a master of efficiency. You will start with one layout, ensuring houses and resource buildings are in close proximity, but then having to move and condense your production chains as you run out of useable land. Moving a building is a simple as clicking move, then clicking the new location. There’s no need to worry about getting some resources back from destroying a building, then worrying about the new build times. This fresh approach keeps gameplay engaging, as each new section of mountain you conquer presents a unique puzzle to solve.

These are the Himalayan mountains after all, so as you climb to higher heights, snow-capped peaks reveal the ever-present threat of avalanches. These unpredictable events add a layer of urgency and excitement to the building process. Mitigating these hazards with strategically placed defense structures like forests and watchful outposts becomes an integral part of your city’s survival. You could also choose to trigger the avalanche early and then deal with the aftermath. The constant undercurrent of risk keeps you on your toes, forcing you to carefully consider every placement decision. There are no attacks from neighbouring mountains at all, but you can connect other mountains with trade routes, and this becomes essential the higher you go and the more mountains you explore.

The more you play, the more advanced buildings and connections between land masses will be required. Often, I had to zoom back to my starting zone to remember how the basics like food collection and transportation worked, to be able to set it up similarly in an advanced land area. I was impressed that I didn’t have to look too much into resource management, it was more people management and ensuring transport of goods was happening effectively. Fans of intricate resource management found in traditional city builders might be disappointed here, but there is still a lot to think about and plan and change your plans to meet the next area’s requirements. The game does feel more akin to a complex puzzle game at times, but that kept the gameplay exciting and challenging for me.

“The Early Access version allows for building multiple towns on different mountains and features all the most important game mechanics, such as a complex transportation system, avalanches and weather breakdowns, and raising the Summit Temples. We plan to be in Early Access for around 6 – 12 months. Our plan is for the full version to feature a campaign mode, a few additional end-game features, more maps and tons of tweaks, improvements and quality-of-life changes.” – Quite OK Games Steam page.

So far, Laysara: Summit Kingdom is a promising city builder with a unique twist and gorgeous mountainous scenery to develop. The strategic layout of small land areas, vertical gameplay, and the constant threat of avalanches and weather effects offers a challenging yet rewarding experience. Not having to worry about heavy resource management or combat with other factions allows you to lean into making the perfect building layouts within the confines of each mountain, and makes you think. If you crave stunning scenery, strategic mountainside construction, and a hint of tension from the threat of weather effects, Laysara: Summit Kingdom is definitely worth a climb or two.

These first impressions utilised a key provided by Future Friends Games and Laysara: Summit Kingdom is out now on Steam early access for AU$29.50 (discounted to $23.60 until April 25).


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