Before We Leave (Xbox One) – Review
Follow Genre: City builder, Strategy
Developers: Balancing Monkey Games
Publishers: Team17, Balancing Monkey Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested On: Xbox One

Before We Leave (Xbox One) – Review

Site Score
Good: Accessible gameplay, not too much stress
Bad: Need to build up the same routine all the time
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)

In June 2021 we already looked at Before We Leave, another game published by Team17 and developed by Balancing Monkey Games. Back then we played it on PC, while this time we took a look at the Xbox One version. Since the game is available for Game Pass on Xbox as well as PC, you actually get to choose what platform you want to play the game on, as you embark on a quest for humanity.


Before We Leave starts the same way as a Fallout game. A bunch of people, or “peeps” in this case, emerge from their shelter from ages long past. They need to figure out if it’s safe on the planet again, and they begin to relearn the old ways to live. They do this by building houses, exploring the island, cutting down trees, and mining for resources. Slowly but steadily they go further than that though. They learn to rebuild ancient artifacts, beginning with a building that provides power, while also restoring the wreck of a boat.

This is basically all that Before We Leave has to tell you. You’ll discover the most while simply playing the game. There are neither cutscenes here, nor is there any narration. While there is an extensive tutorial that you could do, the game mostly relies on your skill to explore, gather, manage and build. By doing these things, you discover more about the ancients that were here before you.

Before We Leave 1


The graphics of Before We Leave are pretty tight, though it might take some time to get used to. The entire game is like a hexagon tabletop field laid upon a sphere, and you can orbit around the sphere as a viewer. It’s not something completely new, as we already saw it in a game such as Planetary Annihilation: Titans. You don’t have to expect a lot of violence and weaponry in Before We Leave though. Instead, the focus is on a cute little game style with rather simple animations and inhabitants. It feels a little bit like watching the side of a dollhouse thanks to the compact nature of the planet(s) you find yourself on, and the relative simplicity the game has been set up with. That being said, what’s there is polished and definitely has its own style, making this game stand out a bit compared to others. On the other hand though, this is a game where you can travel between planets, and there’s a very limited amount of biomes on all of these, which takes away some of the game’s unique appeal.


The sound design here is quite nice. For one, the game changes the sound as you zoom in or out from the planet. It generally uses a house as some type of jukebox, making notes appear around it as the music comes from under its roof. If you are close, you have background music. If you go further away, it disappears. This is interesting as it gives the game some depth. On top of that, there’s some ambient sound going on near your peeps and biomes, which makes the game feel more alive with wind and a soft ramble coming from your peeps indicating a busy day. Last but not least, there are satisfying sounds present upon i.e. building something, sounding like proper construction sounds. Overall, the sound design is quite effective like this.


Before We Leave is an accessible city builder/management game. The game doesn’t present you with situations where you can get a ‘game over’ screen, and makes it quite easy for you to survive any hardship. At the same time, the game also lacks some goals. In a classic RTS/city builder you would find yourself on your way to destroy an enemy’s base. In Before We Leave, all you really have is exploration and expansion. To rebuild society on (eventually) multiple planets is the essential gist of the game. This does not mean that there are absolutely no dangers on the path to that point, no, the game has a few crazy surprises for you in store. Nonetheless, compared to other games in its genre, this one is very easy going. While you might need a little bit of time to understand the intrinsic mechanics of the game, it’s simply quite accessible to many people overall.

You start with building roads and stuff to gather resources such as wood and stone. Then you slowly upgrade to other resources such as power and iron. Some of these are inherent to the world you find yourself on, while others are old structures left there by the ancients that you need to repair and utilize. Eventually, you even get to set up trade routes and switch between whatever worlds you have at your command. The trading between worlds is about as complicated as the game gets though, which also makes it accessible, but that might be not that great.

Because of this accessibility and the forgiving nature of the game, it also sometimes feels a bit boring. There’s a certain lack of goals, as well as challenges, that makes you feel like you are doing it all for nothing. Furthermore, the game lets you repeat the same patterns over and over and gives you little to no freedom in choosing what to do next. This predetermined path to follow gets annoying after a time, as it’s mostly about optimizing your roads, buildings, and routes, to get the best out of a procedurally generated world.

That being said, overall it’s an alright game. The first couple of times you play it it’s mostly about the surprise of “what to find next”, and for the price the game has (or if you have Game Pass) it’s not bad at all. Just keep in mind that this probably won’t be the type of game you will play over and over to your heart’s content. For that, you probably want something with more depth and challenge.


Before We Leave is as enjoyable on your Xbox as it is on PC, and if you have Game Pass, and are in the mood for something accessible, you might as well give it a try. It’s probably not a game that you will visit often though, but for a different game experience than most, it’s quite nice. The graphics are nice to look at, the sound is cool, and while the game lacks challenging gameplay, it does give you stuff to do that’s cool for a playthrough or two.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Before We Leave (Xbox One) - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

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