Image: Spiderling Studios
If you have a Nintendo Switch, you’ve probably been spending every spare moment of the last week playing Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. (You might be playing it even if you don’t have one, ahem.) There’s a lot of stuff to love in the game, from its tall-and-deep open world to its experimental weapon fusing system. But if what you really love is using the Ultrahand to make a bunch of weird LEGO-like vehicles, there’s another game you need to check out.
It’s called Besiege, and I’m willing to bet the mechanics of this little indie game inspired at least some of Zelda’s Ultrahand functionality — that, and the way Breath of the Wild players made some of their own hacked-together vehicles to exploit the game’s physics engine. Besiege was fully released in 2020, but it was available in early access for years before that. And its modular gadget-making action will look familiar to anyone who’s spent hours sticking wheels and fans on carts in Hyrule.
Besiege is, at its heart, a physics puzzle game. You start each level with a limited number of parts, a little papercraft medieval diorama, and a specific target that needs to be destroyed. Stick the parts together in LEGO style, control your kooky siege engine, and get it done — in whatever order or fashion you think is appropriate. You might build a simple cart with a ram on the end, or an elaborate Da Vinci flying machine with a flamethrower. You might just stick a bomb to a wheel, whatever works. Your gadget doesn’t need to finish the run in one piece, so long as you accomplish your goal.
The game starts out simple and builds on its open-ended mechanics quickly. Once you discover that you can bind different moving parts to different keys, setting up customizable weapons and movement functions, the possibilities become almost endless. They’re literally endless if you disable the limitations on the stages (which is an option, but won’t let you progress in the campaign) or go into the free build mode.
Setting up spinning, whirling carts of medieval death is great fun. It’s got that oh-so-satisfying feeling of pushing over your sibling’s block tower and running away before they can tell your parents. But what’s truly amazing about Besiege is the way it enables shockingly complex builds with a collection of relatively simple 3D tools. The modular block design is so flexible that the options for completing any specific task are nearly infinite. Can’t get over some terrain? You could lift your cart up and add shock absorbers to the wheels, or put some balloons on it to make it float, or stick some mines on the front and make the thing flip over the obstacle in a windmill of flaming splinters.
Besiege’s long development time and healthy fan community has given it a lot of extra value. In addition to the main campaign of more than 50 structured levels, the game now has multiplayer co-op, player-versus-player where you can pit your tanks and flying machines against one another, a sandbox mode and a level editor, and integration with Steam Workshop for easy mod support. If you’re willing to spend a few hours making your dream machine — or a few minutes importing someone else’s — it’s amazing what you can do with just a few tools. The developers aren’t resting on their laurels, either: Despite being “finished” three years ago, they just released new building blocks with the latest bug fixes last month.
Besiege is a fantastic little game at $15. But if you hurry you can get it on sale for six bucks on Steam. Grab it now, for when you’re finally finished with Zelda sometime in the next decade. It’ll be worth the wait. The game is also available on the Humble store and on Xbox.