We like to see longevity on the App Store, and Build-a-Lot just received its fourth entry in the series (surprisingly quickly, too). Unlike the relatively underwhelming last entry, Build-a-Lot 3: Passport to Europe, this one builds on the established strengths of the series while shedding some of its weaker features.
Build-a-Lot 4 puts you in the role of a highly recommended real estate developer who gets cozy contracts from towns and the run of entire neighborhoods to achieve mayoral goals. Buying, selling, building, demolishing, and juggling materials, workers, and money are all familiar elements, but there’s a new addition: power. While it may not make sense for a developer to be responsible for providing power, this addition introduces a whole new mechanic, including a new type of worker: the technician.
Even windmills get the blues.
This new mechanic has several environmentally-minded features, from no energy source using fossil fuels to improvements in energy efficiency that decrease power demand, helping to avoid nasty blackouts. Every power source carries a negative curb appeal, which forces careful placement– either away from your buildings or cruelly close to buildings you don’t own, tanking their values. In the real world, occupants of such places would protest, but Build-a-Lot doesn’t go that in depth.
Services ranging from hospitals to police stations found in Build-a-Lot 3 are now gone, along with a few other minor features, but these aren’t much missed. There is still a lot to balance, especially with power problems, and the challenge is very real. As with its predecessors, however, the difficulty curve is a bit too steep for casual players, which is why the addition of even more challenging modes is appreciated, but not loved.
The game is available for free with a relatively pricy $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock the full game. Time management fans will definitely enjoy this entry, and fans of the series will appreciate the tweaks to the interface– though the lack of a cancel/ undo feature paired with the occasional bug does detract from that. All things considered, this is the best entry in the series so far, and we hope to see more improvement and depth in future installments.