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Planetiles review – Your new favourite strategy puzzle game

Planetiles screenshot
Image: MythicOwl

Planetiles describes itself as a “serene city builder”, but we don’t think that’s a very good description. Sure, technically you’re building up a world by placing down either forest, sand, field or mountain tiles.

But it concerns itself with none of the usual stuff you’d expect of a city builder. People? Nope, none of those. Buildings? There aren’t really any of those either. Rather, you’ll need to place as many tiles as you can, covering up as much of the planet’s surface as possible, meeting various goals as you go.

You might need to place exactly five forest tiles together, for example. Or have a desert area that’s more than 16 tiles in size. Finishing as many of these goals as possible is important to netting you the best score, but it’s not all you need to worry about. Placing matching tiles in a 3×3 square will unlock a particular structure, which in turn will grant you a number of special abilities.

Planetiles screenshot
Image: MythicOwl

Those special abilities will let you place a number of 1×1 tiles, which are great for filling in random gaps, or changing the current tile you have in the hopes of getting something that will fit. The more structures you place, the more missions you manage to complete, and the more empty planet you manage to fill up, the better your score will be.

Related: The best single-player games on PC

Ultimately, then, Planetiles is more of a strategy game-meets-puzzler, where you’ll need to carefully think about each tile placement and keep an eye on what’s coming up next. There are only a small number of levels in the game, but with each having multiple goals to complete, they’ll keep you coming back again and again.

Planetiles screenshot
Image: MythicOwl

It’s very easy to find yourself in a situation where you simply can’t make any more moves, and all that’s left to do is start over. Some levels require you to fill an entire planet; others simply give you an empty square, or a strip of land. The amount of space available to you will dictate the sort of strategy you’ll need to adopt — and no matter what level you’re on, it’ll take some serious trial and error before you finally master Planetiles.

It may be tricky, but playing Planetiles is an utter joy, even if you do keep failing. It’s the sort of game you can play in short, 15 minute bursts — or you can end up losing hours to it at a time. It’s both relaxing and challenging: a really clever little strategy game that gets your brain working in the most pleasant way.

This review of Planetiles has been facilitated by a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC.

Planetiles review - GameSpew's score

Planetiles
8 10 0 1
A strategy puzzle masquerading as a world builder, Planetiles is a wonderfully challenging little game that we can't get enough of.
A strategy puzzle masquerading as a world builder, Planetiles is a wonderfully challenging little game that we can't get enough of.
8/10
Total Score

We liked...

  • Very more-ish
  • It looks great
  • Simple idea that takes serious time to really master

We didn't like...

  • Takes a few attempts to really know what you're doing
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.