The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising is a so-so building sim modeled after Royal Envoy
How does it sound to be banished into eternal darkness by Amen-Ra, god of the sun? Not exactly a good time, right? That’s the premise of The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising, a new building simulation by Wendigo Studios in which you help the architect Senmut to unite the Egyptian people and reconstruct various villages. Unfortunately the game proves that it is not always good enough to simply mimic a successful format.
The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising features 40 levels in one mode, which provides a solid amount of playing time, but is nevertheless slightly disappointing for a building simulation. Levels are timed, but it is not really possible to fail, which will be a relief to know for people who prefer to do things at their own pace. However, if you finish any level in the allotted time limit you will be rewarded with a golden scarab. For each scarab, a specific part of your personal city will be constructed, which is definitely a motivation to replay certain levels later on.
With regards to the gameplay, The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising is very close to Royal Envoy. In each level you have to fulfill various goals, such as constructing houses, markets, earning a specific amount of money, or producing a certain number of stones, so there’s nothing groundbreaking here. You can hire two types of workers: those who will build and upgrade houses and other buildings, as well as mining stones, and those who will collect the rent from houses and negotiate at the market or with bandits.
The number of buildings is actually quite limited. There are only three types of houses, including huts and villas, that do not even look that different, but at least change visibly when upgraded; a couple of service buildings such as the temple or the market; and six embellishments which will increase the joy of your village. Most of those buildings serve the same function as in Royal Envoy – houses provide increasing income depending on how expensive their construction is, while the number of upgrades is indicated by one, two or three ankh symbols.
At the market you can change stones into gold, but it is important to choose the most profitable offer. The quarry enables you to produce a fixed amount of stones, and the temple accumulates gold each time you earn money from one of your houses, which can then be withdrawn on a regular basis by your taxmen. Furthermore, you can upgrade your worker’s speed, you have to be on your toes to prevent thieves from stealing your gold, and you may construct special monuments or ports in certain levels. Ports work in a similar fashion as the market, with the difference being that offers will be more varied and helpful.
As you can see, the game is a very similar rehash of the aforementioned Royal Envoy. Of course this does not necessarily mean that The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising is a total failure, nor are similar games in the same genre unheard of in the casual market – but at least the game should be done well or have something new to add besides an Egyptian theme.
To Pyramid Rising’s credit, the controls work well and are intuitive, the level of difficulty seems pretty balanced, and the goals are varied. But with a closer look it is easy to see that it’s mostly average in every respect. The graphics are nice, but pretty boring with sparse and generic animations, the number of buildings and options is extremely limited and cannot compare with most other titles of this genre, and with no new feature standing out the game actually relies on those pretty standard aspects.
In the end The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising is the perfect example of a bland, copycat version of a previous hit game, in this case Royal Envoy. It is not as polished, quirky, and entertaining, and it does not introduce any new interesting features. If you really, really loved that game or simply cannot get enough of building simulations, this game might still be exactly your thing, but all others will likely be disappointed and should wait for Royal Envoy’s sequel.