Pub­lisher/de­vel­oper Grand Cru For­mat iOS Re­lease Out now

The po­lar ice caps have melted, but Grand Cru’s vi­sion of the fu­ture is a bright, happy kind of dystopia. Here, car­toon hu­mans are res­cued from the flood by su­per­heroes and trans­ported by rocket into space to find new homes on a float­ing as­ter­oid, which you’re in charge of ex­pand­ing. You’ll use ma­chines to craft raw ma­te­ri­als and bots to trans­form them into the build­ing blocks for struc­tures and dec­o­ra­tions. You’re in charge of the res­cue op­er­a­tion as well, a caped crusader with a mul­ti­pur­pose zap­per do­ing the job of the sup­posed saviours. Su­per­nauts gives you plenty to do, which might well be its un­do­ing.

The early stages cer­tainly keep you busy, with ob­jec­tives com­pleted in sec­onds rather than min­utes, and there’s a tan­gi­ble sense of progress. As your as­ter­oid evolves into a mass of mov­ing parts and puls­ing icons, how­ever, the clean, colour­ful aes­thetic be­comes clut­tered. Soon irk­some wait timers for ev­ery process ra­tion out your in­ter­ac­tions. You can speed things along with gems, of course, but de­mand quickly out­strips sup­ply and all but the most pa­tient will be dip­ping into their vir­tual wal­lets be­fore long.

Still, once you do have enough ma­te­ri­als, you can be­gin to per­son­alise your home. Most new pieces of land come with 3D tem­plates – cot­tages and cas­tles, stat­ues and flags – and while you’re only re­warded for com­plet­ing the blue­print, you’re free to em­bel­lish it at any time. Al­ter­na­tively, you can buy an empty square and con­struct some­thing of your own de­sign.

You’ll soon run out of space un­less you com­plete the ob­jec­tives given by your ro­bot as­sis­tant, which al­low you to ex­pand your bound­aries and ob­tain new re­sources. By far the quick­est way to achieve this is to dab­ble in the block mar­ket, com­plet­ing time-lim­ited re­quests for sup­plies to earn coins. This in turn leaves you short of ma­te­ri­als with which to build, es­sen­tially forc­ing you to choose be­tween cre­ativ­ity and progress.

Take a break on Earth, how­ever, and you’ll be itch­ing to re­turn to the stars once more. Each res­cue at­tempt en­tails lo­cat­ing a zap­per to de­stroy ob­sta­cles block by block be­fore us­ing the ma­te­rial you’ve ac­cu­mu­lated to build a bridge or stair­way so the res­cuee can make their way to the rocket. Bonus mis­sions wrongly as­sume that you find this process en­ter­tain­ing enough to re­peat it several times over the course of a sin­gle area.

Su­per­nauts is both too lim­ited to suc­ceed as a town­builder and frus­trat­ingly re­stric­tive as a cre­ative tool, while its su­per­hero in­ter­ludes are dis­em­pow­er­ing and dull. Grand Cru boasts that it has made the most am­bi­tious iOS game of all time; that may be true, but it doesn’t make the re­sult any less mud­dled.

Once hu­mans are set­tled on board your bright patch of astroturf, you’re tasked with ‘ed­u­cat­ing’ them, which al­lows you to col­lect more money from them over time. We’re sure we don’t need to labour the metaphor

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