Towns Review (PC)
Somewhere between Minecraft and Populous lies Towns. You play God in your layered isometric world, guiding your villagers to happiness in the hope that they will grow into a flourishing community. You tell them to produce food, build houses, mine for gold or silver, or to be a patrolling soldier. But what lies beneath the bedrock?
At first Towns does seem just like a village simulation. You have to make sure that your villagers remain fed and happy by getting them to till some earth, grow wheat, which they can then turn into flour if you have built them a mill, which they can then bake into bread if you have built them a baker’s oven. Of course that’s not their only food choice. Given the right ingredients and tools, they can produce anything from Apple Pies to Cactus Soup. You can set yourself up with animal farms, such as chickens and pigs, allowing you to harvest eggs or raw meat to use to create more interesting, and fulfilling, food types. Before you think of doing anything else with your Town, you will want to make sure that all your villagers are fed and happy, as this is best way to guarantee the arrival of immigrants!
After a while you are going to notice the need for resources such as Iron and Copper. The only way to get those it to go mining for them. That’s when you realise there is a whole other level to this game, or rather MANY levels to the game. Once you start mining you uncover what lies beneath your town. You will soon uncover dungeon walls, and a few nasty creatures that you will have to deal with. But this is exactly WHY you need iron, so you can craft better weapons and armour for your villagers. You can set some of your villagers up as soldiers, where they will stop all other duties and either patrol an area that you designate for them, or simply be on guard duty. Guard duty will have them respond to any villager coming under attack.
However, delve any deeper than a few levels and you will start to uncover the ugly truth of what is down there. Goblins and ghouls galore! To deal with these you are going to need more than soldiers, you are going to need heroes! If you build yourself up a nice tavern with some rooms, along with keeping a good supply of food for them, then heroes will start to appear in your village. Once there, they will wonder the uncovered depths of the dungeons that are available to them. Heroes are the key to progressing further into the depths. The description of the game states, “Instead of playing the hero who delves deep into the dungeon, how about playing the town that houses and caters to the hero’s needs?”
The game can be highly frustrating at times. Villagers can end up stuck if you forget to provide scaffolding, and if you aren’t looking at the level they are on, you probably won’t notice and they’ll end up starving to death before you can do anything about it. The chickens like to starve too, and make a horrid noise every time they do. You’ll also want to do more than your villagers can cope with, which will make them unhappy and you frustrated. Sometimes it is best to leave a queue of commands and then go AFK for a while to give them time to complete, but that could run you into other troubles.
That being said, the game is highly addictive. It’s fascinating watching a small civilisation craft their way to a better life with your help. To get them from living in stick huts, eating nothing but stale bread, to moving on to stone castles where Roast Pork is served in the dining hall. To have them move from wooden swords, to great iron swords and armour. And then to watch heroes go off and do their thing in the dungeons. If only there was much rejoicing…
If it wasn’t for the need for iron, coal, copper etc. then the mining mechanic would seem unnecessary. Perhaps the game would be better if it did more of its title. Just making Towns, Settlements, whatever you want to call them. Build a nice society that grows, and perhaps meet and face other societies. The dungeons just become a distraction from the best part of the game, and due to the “only able to see one layer of the world at a time” mechanic, you can miss things happening elsewhere by looking around in the dungeons.
Towns is a highly addictive, yet frustrating game. It does well in most parts with a retro view and graphic style, interesting gameplay mechanics and a satisfying “I made this” result from the creation tools available. However, it can quickly become over complex, resulting in almost complete population annihilation, which takes a long time to recover from. This along with those damn chickens starving will cause most players to Rage Quit.
2.5 villagers still alive out of 5Towns Review (PC),