Playing Synergy’s free demo taught me just how precious water is in a city-building simulator

 A doctor taking care of a patient .
A doctor taking care of a patient .

Lost in a barren and unforgiving wasteland, you are challenged with providing for the small group of exiles you find yourself in charge of. With the beating sun over your head at every waking moment and the constant threat of droughts, the alien city-building simulator Synergy pressures players to master resource management for the sake of the population's survival.

After the collapse of your hometown, a slice of utopia in the harsh desert, a group of exiles are forced out into the wild and have to make do with the little resources they have. As the leader, your first task is to set up camp near a source of toxic water, which you extract and purify for your fellow citizens. Soon after, you find yourself setting up a Picker’s Cabin so you can farm the nearby land - the starting point of your new utopia begins. Alongside the farming, there are also tons of buildings to create and assign workers to: Kitchens, Research Centers, Scent Gardens, and Composters all help to slowly transform this small corner of the desert into another paradise.

In the lifecycle of the alien planet in which you find yourself, Dry Seasons are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. During this period fewer plants grow, and your citizens are more in need of water. Unfortunately, I was so underprepared for the first drought that three citizens died of hunger as I was desperately trying to scramble resources together. As the one who was meant to care for these people, watching my lack of preparation slowly kill them off was nothing short of horrifying. I was keen to learn quickly from these savage mistakes.

Luckily, you can see the next three seasons in advance just by looking at the HUD, which helps to plan ahead, so after this first catastrophe, I made it my mission to be better prepared during the Temperate Seasons, which have more rainfall and so allowed plants to proliferate. More Picker’s Cabins were constructed to harvest more food, and I invested in a composter, which would also hold the key to creating fertilizer and farming the land in the future, ensuring the wheel would keep turning.

Boundless potential

A doctor taking care of a patient
A doctor taking care of a patient

While resource management is an essential aspect of Synergy, as is the way with any solid city-building sim, there is so much more on offer here, and even so in just this small demo. I spent so much of my time perfecting the small village that I had made to ensure that everything could work as efficiently as possible. This way, we were able to maximize production and stockpile resources. It’s also so easy to simply waste time while playing Synergy; even watching your population complete tasks and go about their daily business resting and eating meals is brilliant.

I sent four citizens to research a peculiar light, only for them to all become fixated on it, unable to move, and eventually die of dehydration

In Synergy, you can’t go throwing buildings around without any thought; there is a process to it. First off, homes need to be close to cellars and water storage for easy access to food and water. There are also paths to fix up to make it easier for your citizens to navigate the city, as well as recreational facilities to ensure their happiness - always the key to success.

As you are on an alien planet, there are also quite a few research projects you can undertake. Once you set up an Explorer’s Hut, you can send out teams to research and document strange happenings and also find new and valuable resources. Unfortunately, my first expedition ended in disaster when I sent four citizens to research a peculiar light, only for them to all become fixated on it, unable to move, and eventually die of dehydration.

However, if you want to opt for a safer and more local option when it comes to researching the strange desert you find yourself in, then you can build Field Labs and Research Centers. Both of these allow you to discover which plants are edible as well as know what resources can be mined and from where which is a great way to start getting to see and experience the world in which you now live.

Overall, Synergy’s short demo managed to completely hook me. I’ve adored getting to know this now not-so-desolate desert and the people who live in it, and I can’t wait to discover what else lies in wait for me to discover once the full game is released.

For more fantastic games like Synergy, be sure to check out the best simulation games as well as the best survival games