Building and construction games are nothing new these days; We’ve seen iteration after iteration, from LEGO to Minecraft. We also almost played WW2 titles to death. However, what makes WW2 Rebuilder so interesting is that the developers decided to combine the two genres and take what is possibly the most interesting approach to a World War 2 game I’ve seen in a long time.

Action Ahoy!

The game’s title provides a pretty solid description of what you’re doing. Marshall Plan joke aside, that’s basically it. You wander across different maps to find ruined sites, mine the ruins for resources, and rebuild them. It really is as far as the plot goes.

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WW2 Rebuilder (hereinafter Rebuilder) offers a pretty solid tutorial before you drop into the completely destroyed Gimbert Station, and this mission is your first real taste of how much thought went into the development of this game. The station roughly resembles the devastation that took place after the 1944 Soham rail disaster (Soham Rail Disaster – Wikipedia) and there is no question that the developers want you to remember that event. Gimbert Station is named after, or perhaps in honor of, Benjamin Gimbert, the train driver in the actual June 2, 1944 disaster involving an exploding ammunition train. Gimbert and fireman James Nightall risked their lives to minimize the damage, and while Gimbert survived, Nightall did not.

I’m including this little foray into History Channel territory because it’s important to pay attention to these details in Rebuilder, as this offers a much deeper gaming experience. Rebuilder is a pretty solid building game, make no mistake, and if you want to enjoy the act of rebuilding without paying too much attention to the environment, Rebuilder certainly offers that option. However, if you pay attention to the locations the developers have chosen and why, the title becomes all the more haunting. For so many of us, though unfortunately not as many as we might hope, the events of World War II are an abstraction.

Intellectually we understand the devastation of war, but there’s something about tearing down twisted railroad ties that puts that devastation into perspective. The real lines involved in the Soham disaster were reopened to freight traffic within eighteen hours and although I got Gimbert Station operational again in a much shorter time, playing through the repair gave me greater credit for this one performance given.

In terms of actual gameplay, it’s simple. You start a level and then have to complete the mandatory missions to open the next map. You spend your earned skill points on greater resource carrying capacity or faster walking speed, which trust me you will want. During the remodeling you have the opportunity to redecorate, which strikes me as a bit strange. However, be careful what you choose to add to the build as you will need to find the resources to complete that build. Finding the additional materials can quickly become tedious. Luckily, Rebuilder offers the ability to invest points in a view that highlights usable materials.

Don’t forget to fully explore the maps, as there are often hidden mini-quests and at least one mini-game in which you defuse a German bomb. The maps are also quite lifelike; To this day, Normandy Beach looks as pockmarked as the Pointe du Hoc area.

Visually, Rebuilder’s graphics are pretty solid, but the graphics themselves are pretty static unless you’re in one of the many cutscenes. These cutscenes are either introductions to the level or memories telling the story of how the location was destroyed, and the voice acting could honestly use some work. The rest of the soundtrack won’t wow you, but it’s quite commendable. Strangely, for such a low-intensity game, Rebuilder takes forever to load, and you should expect to find some glitches. While slightly annoying, these are anything but deal-breakers.


WW2 Rebuilder celebrates endurance and offers players the opportunity to rebuild rather than destroy, and frankly, that alone is worth checking out. Hopefully you’ll find the gameplay interesting enough to work your way through the maps as you weave your way through war-torn landscapes and fix what you can.

WW2 Rebuilder is $19.99 on Steam.

Stray thoughts behind the keyboard

  1. Small hitboxes make the mice extremely frustrating, which feels lifelike.
  2. You get to drive a bulldozer, need I say more?
  3. To trigger the memory sequences, you walk through ghosts. This is going to be… strange.
  4. There’s also a fair amount of collectibles in WW2 Rebuilder, including letters. Yes, they are as emotionally charged as you think.


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