Foundation Review (v1.9)

A unique medieval city builder with building customization, organic growth and gridless layouts.

Foundation is a gridless medieval city builder developed by Polymorph Games. This game features a unique modular building system and organic city development. Originally released in 2019, the development team continues to produce massive updates periodically. 

Foundation Review (v1.9)

Although not the most popular gaming genre, there is definitely no shortage of city-builder games. With so many to choose from, fans always look for a builder that brings something new and unique to the table.

Does Foundation deliver? In our opinion, yes. Although a city builder and resource manager at its core, Foundation brings in enough new elements to make it worthwhile to pick up for any fan of the city-builder genre.

Foundation Doesn’t Hold Your Hand

If you like a game that throws you right into it with the freedom to do as you please, then Foundation might be a good fit. There is no story or lore, which might be a negative to some, but we’re not here for the story if we’re being honest. We’re here for an immersive city management experience that lets the game’s mechanics draw you in rather than the story around it, and we believe many fans of the genre would agree.

If you’re looking for a cool city builder with a bit of lore, you might want to check out other city builders like The Wandering Village.

In Foundation, you’re dropped into the middle of an expansive map broken up into territories you can purchase as you grow your population and gold reserves. You can only build and harvest resources from the territories that you currently own, providing a nice additional element of necessary planning, especially in the early game.

Screenshot via Gamer Digest/Foundation

Your goal in the game is to expand your population as much as possible while keeping your villagers happy. Villagers will have different classes, but unlike many other city-builder games, they won’t automatically promote themselves once resources are available. Instead, you promote a set number of villagers to a higher class every 30 days. They will require better food and luxury goods to keep them happy but, in return, will produce more tax revenue and be able to perform higher-level jobs.

Much like other builder games, your resources will be relatively basic. Villagers will need to collect wood that can be milled into planks, stone crafted into polished stone, and various metal ores, which are smelted into ingots.

And don’t forget about food! Villagers can start by gathering basic berries and move on to farming wheat, cattle, hops, and more. 

Screenshot via Gamer Digest/Foundation

Your Town Has a Life of Its Own

One beautiful aspect of the Foundation is the feeling of organic growth you get when watching your town advance. While there are tons of micromanaging tasks, the village feels like it has a life of its own. The developers achieved this by allowing the player to designate zones using a paintable overlay.

By enabling paint mode, you can paint an area where villagers collect resources, plant resources, build homes or avoid altogether. Once the zones are set, the villagers go off and do their own thing. They lay their town out how they want, and any area walked over often will develop a road. Once the villagers stomp some streets for you and build a few houses, you can go in and decorate with signs, trees, bushes, and more.

Screenshot via Gamer Digest/Foundation

On the other end of the spectrum, you get pretty detailed building customization which contrasts the naturally growing village and road system. Buildings such as your church, market, town hall, monastery, barracks, and more have a unique building system that allows you to really get creative.

Each additional section of your structure provides a different utility, and you can adjust the angles, height, and more. This is a mechanic rarely seen in this style of city builder game and is a fantastic touch that really gives you ownership over your village.

Screenshot via Gamer Digest/Foundation

Final Verdict

If I had to categorize Foundation more specifically, I would say it’s a chill city builder. While difficult, it’s a game you can sit back and admire while coasting on autopilot. It’s very forgiving and drags you in as your village grows organically and by your own hand. The game’s vibe contrasts a builder like Farthest Frontier, which leans into the more intense survivalist direction.

If the game falters, it would be the modular building UI and general interface. The more complex side of customizing your buildings is difficult to wrap your head around initially, and I found myself accidentally deleting entire markets on multiple occasions. It’s nothing the developers can’t fix and have already updated various times.

The visuals are simple yet beautiful. The sounds are lulling and relaxing, fitting well into the game’s overall aesthetic. So if you’re looking for a unique take on the age-old city builder genre, Foundation won’t disappoint. This game still has tons of potential and room to grow with new content and gameplay adjustments on the horizon.

Foundation (v1.9)

Dan Stark

Sound Design

Pick up your copy of Foundation in the Steam Store today.

[Reviewed on PC via Gifted Copy from Game Developers]