Since being first published in 1995, Klaus Teuber’s The Settlers of Catan has sold millions of copies around the world and established itself a reputation as a modern board game classic. The game’s always struck me as the kind of thing I’d enjoy and I’ve been meaning to check it out forever, but have never gotten around to it. So I was pretty chuffed when USM recently sent me a review copy of Catan Universe (out now, free), a title they’re billing as the “ultimate” digital adaptation of Catan. 

If, like me, you’ve never played Catan before, the basic gist of it is as follows. Players are cast as rival groups of explorer-settlers and must battle it out for domination of the titular island of Catan by building roads and cities and strategically trading resources. This may sound a little complex, but don’t worry — Catan Universe boasts a remarkably comprehensive tutorial that hand-holds noobs through a practice session and does a fantastic job of laying out and explaining all the rules.

Once you have a decent handle on the basics, you can get stuck into the rest of what Catan Universe has to offer. The free version of the game gives you access to a fun cross-platform multiplayer mode and the single-player version of Arrival on Catan, as well as allowing you to sample 2 player card game Catan – The Duel. Beyond that, there’s a ton of additional content that can be unlocked via in-app purchases. This includes the full version of the base game (along with its Cities and Knights and Seafarers add-ons) and the full version of Catan – The Duel.

In addition to serving up enough content to please even the most avid Catan fan, Catan Universe also looks great and perfectly nails the feel of playing a physical board game. So is there anything I don’t like about the game, you ask? Well, some of the menus are a bit confusing at first, and I did encounter the occasional minor bug here and there — such as the music and sound effects only working through headphones on my iPhone 6s — but overall the game is still incredibly well made and polished.

Verdict

USM’s Catan Universe lives up to its billing of being the “ultimate” digital version of Klaus Teuber’s classic board game. Longtime Catan fans will no doubt enjoy the wealth of content and features, while newcomers will appreciate just how accessible USM have made the game. Both the free base version and IAP extras come highly recommended.

Positives
Very comprehensive, easy to follow tutorial
Exciting gameplay
Cross-platform multiplayer
Absolutely tons of content
Negatives
Weird audio bug
4.5
Excellent
Download on the App Store