"Oh no," you groan, staring unbelieving at your computer screen. Your favourite city building game has contracted some sort of strange glitch, preventing you from seeing the list of buildings and features you can choose from. The large plots of land before you remain empty, just waiting for paved roads and condo developments. What is there to do? You'll need to rack your brain and remember all of the buildings yourself, of course. This is the unique challenge you are faced with in Lexicopolis: A-B-City, a strategy and city simulation game like no other. Originally made for the 2013 Experimental Gameplay CONSTRUCT competition, Lexicopolis has remained well loved with consistent updates from developer vampirewalrus. The game is controlled with the [arrow] keys, as well as [Q], [W], [E] ...well, the entire keyboard. You see, you won't be using traditional money to fund this building project; your currency instead is the alphabet. Faced with a vast green field of letters, you are able to collect the letters which you've placed buildings upon and type out the features you want to build, from "apartment" to "zoo," in the style of Scribblenauts. Put on your thinking cap, because this open-ended word game has an impressive 300+ words and phrases in its lexicon.
The rules that govern Lexicopolis really make it stand out as something different. Limiting the letters you can use provides a fun challenge—"House" seems an easy enough go-to until you realize you have little more than a T, an X and three F's at your disposal. As the game progresses this becomes less of a problem, though it's still easy to use up all your vowels if you're not careful. The point system is also delightfully unique, and since there are no specific goals or achievements to find here, you'll want to maximize that score as much as possible. Having too many commercial and recreational buildings in your town means you'll get a bonus for constructing residences, or vice-versa. Red multiplier squares litter the playing field much like a Scrabble board, so building and road placement matters more than you'd think. Finally, you'll get only half the points for any duplicates, so get creative; you want barbers and harbors, not just stores and... more stores. Your map will soon fill up, so think outside of the box to come up with teenier sized features that will fill up leftover spaces. In the grand scheme of things, it's a shame that there isn't more to Lexicopolis, but it's simple package doesn't prevent it from being both addicting and rewarding. Take a screenshot of your finished city and show it off. Revel in the joy of finding a really obscure word that works, or work with others to think of the buildings you're missing. It's much trickier than you'd think, and just one play-through isn't quite enough to satisfy. Plus, if you're feeling especially malicious, you can surround an orphanage with factories and junkyards. Don't breathe in too deeply, kids!