Pile Up! is a quirky, relaxing, strategic game in which players need to build and create communities to fulfil the requests of the inhabitants. Given only a small piece of land to develop on, this leads to some pretty whacky designs and interesting constructs. But don’t get too comfortable, as chilled and relaxed as the game may be, things can quickly fall apart.
Pile Up! has been developed by Remoob and published by Next in Game & IndieArk. Hearing about Remoob for the first time? Well, Remoob is a small indie company based in Turkey that aims to develop “games that feel noteworthy… with unique atmospheres”. Remoob have a few other games, so be sure to check out their developer page on Steam, or their website if you enjoy this preview.
Brick by Brick
Each structure advertently affects those beside, above and below it. Meaning that like a game of Jenga, every ‘brick’ could be the one to topple your tower. Read carefully and check the needs of your citizens before making a placement, and advance as far as you can in this quirky community builder.
Pile Up! is in essence a reverse Jenga with elements of Tetris and deck-building. Players act as a sort of architect – constructing and stacking buildings to create a community. Having only a small foundation with which to develop, expansion can only go one way… up! Like Jenga, there can only be one outcome – disaster is inevitable. How far you go before achieving total destruction depends on skill, creativity and a little bit of luck.
It’ll come as no surprise that the main mechanic is building. But how does that work? Each turn the player will be presented with a number of buildings – think of them as cards in a deck. They might be houses or workshops. Each card must be placed on the board before the next turn begins. You will repeat this mechanic until something disastrous happens and ends the current build.
When the current build ends, players are rewarded with scrap. Scrap is the currency used to unlock new buildings. The further you go in any build, the more scrap you gain, and the more you can unlock for the next turn. This clever little system makes the player feel as though they’re making progress even if they’re failing. It also makes Pile Up! accessible to all audiences, as no matter how good or bad you are, you’ll inevitably be rewarded for time spent playing.
Overall Pile Up! plays really well, with a relaxing atmosphere and chill vibe. After some brief tutorial learning, you’ll immediately be able to start building on the “Rectland” map – though it looks like other maps are available to unlock later. There’s also a sandbox mode if you fancy something a little different, be sure to check it out.
Graphics & Audio
Playing on my PC; Ryzen 5, RTX 3070, 32GB RAM. Recommended specs as follows; Intel Pentium 4 4.00GHz, AMD Radeon HD 7570, 8GB RAM & 5GB HDD Space.
Quirky and bright, Pile Up! opts for a cell-shaded low-poly 3D art style from an isometric viewpoint. Filled to the brim with animations, particle FX and lighting, the low-poly style was by no means a way of simplifying the design process. A lot of effort has gone into this little game, and every aspect from visuals to sound feels vibrant and full of life.
Though failure is inevitable, Pile Up! does a great job of keeping a chilled, easy-going vibe. Relaxing atmospheric music, gentle sound FX and cutesy animations really help immerse you in the game world.
My only gripe with Pile Up! is a few clipping textures here and there, but honestly, they’re not really noticeable and very easily tuned out. For an early access game, this is very forgivable. Unfortunately the background music can also be a little repetitive after a while. Are more soundtracks coming in future updates, perhaps?
Pile Up! isn’t a small game per say, but it’s not huge in terms of gameplay. Probably more of a ‘pass the time’ kind of game than something you come home from work early to play, I’d expect playing in stints of around an hour or so. It’s pretty casual and easy to pick up and play as and when. There’s just enough to keep you interested but not a whole heap of game modes available to make it something you’ll play for longer than this.
Pile Up! is a small, but creative game developed for the casual market. This is more of a relaxing pass-the-time pickup-and-play style of game and gets a big thumbs up from me. It’s well-developed, highly polished and doesn’t break the bank. For just £8.50 you can pick this one up in early access on Steam – where it’s already received a ‘Very Positive’ overall review.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.