The new kid on the gaming block, SomaSim, is building its future on California’s past.

Today, the independent studio released its first game, titled 1849. It is a simulation game which transports players back to the era of California’s gold rush. Users are tasked with building up cities in the Golden State, creating textiles, and opening up trade routes to other towns.

Built in the vein of Civilization and SimCity, gamers face multiple challenges, like keeping citizens happy and maintaining a stable balance between objects such as employees, cash, and supplies.

We were fortunate enough to beta test the game and get early access to the release to the game and can confirm that it is equal parts challenging and exciting but not dangerously addictive. It is the bike of video games, something you can enjoy for hours, step away from for a while, and jump right back on in the future.

SomaSim, co-founded by Matthew Viglione and Robert Zubek, may be a small shop with one game to its credit at this point but it has a strong pedigree.

Zubek began seriously venturing into the gaming world at Northwestern University, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science, focusing on Artificial Intelligence. While there, he began working on projects like an AI chat application that one might consider a primitive predecessor to the likes of Siri.

He then went on to work for Electronic Arts, where he focused on a Lord of the Rings game as well as a Sims prototype but was not long before he decided to move to the indie sector, where he joined an up-and-coming company that made games for Facebook.

There, he helped Zynga conquer the social gaming market with the likes of CityVille, FarmVille 2 and Roller Coaster Kingdom.

Now he has made the jump back to the small shop sector again by creating SomaSim with his partner, Viglione.

SomaSim’s first title, 1849, brings old school simulation games to the modern medium of mobile platforms in addition to desktops. The opportunity to reinvent some of their childhood favorites is likely a driving force for Zubek and Viglione. It is also a unique angle that could bring the company towards the forefront of mobile gaming in coming years.

1849 was Greenlit by the Steam community and is available for sale there, the App StoreGoogle Play, and more. Get in on the gold rush early!

Grade: A+