Sunday, November 11

Review: Townsmen [Nintendo Switch eShop]


City management games have been around for quite awhile now, generally starting with the iconic SimCity and moving out from there. While the methods and settings may vary some core concepts with resource management, keeping people happy, and at least attempting to lay things out in an intelligent way are the foundation everything else rests on. Taking more of a real-time strategy approach to things we now have Townsmen, where you’ll attempt to manage a medieval village from somewhat humble or broken beginnings into something prosperous.


With an interconnected supply chain as deep as this game sports it’s a good thing there’s a pretty extensive tutorial that will walk you through how things work. Managing your workers, making sure you have enough of them, and then setting up infrastructure to collect resources tend to be where you start but once you then get into which buildings rely on which resources and other buildings there’s quite a lot to know. There’s very much a knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone thing going on here and as you move towards your objectives its best to be mindful of them and make your plans accordingly.


Thankfully most of this all makes sense and the game tends to do a decent job of keeping you on track, at least if you’re playing in the scenario mode where you’ll be fed a series of tasks you’ll need to complete in order to move on to the next one. By contrast, sandbox mode lets you start out in one of 24 different lands, each with its own benefits and challenges. This mode is probably most similar to the likes of SimCity, leaving it to you to find your own path to success rather than prompting you. Just be sure to try to have a plan in mind because it sucks when you’re 30 minutes in and realize you’ve forgotten a crucial thing or two, tempting you then to start over.


While its appearance is relatively humble the gameplay is surprisingly deep and surpassed my expectations. I’d approached it as if it would have simpler mobile-like mechanics and it does do a better job than that. About my only major complaint aside from the presentation would just be that there were sports where I’d set things in motion and then would have to wait to watch as everything got queued up. There is a fast forward button but even with that in effect there can be times when the game drags a bit. However, since even with the size of the Switch library this sort of game is an oddity it’ll likely be worth a look for people who enjoy their city building, just perhaps a little watered down overall, if nothing else by the lesser complexity of the time period.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • A vital tutorial walks you through the game’s key concepts at length
  • Somewhat targeted scenarios set the stage and have you complete specific tasks to succeed
  • A sandbox mode with a variety of environments gives you free reign to blaze your own path

Cons:
  • Really would have appreciated more fast forward options at times, waiting for the proper resources or people to get in place to complete my next objective
  • The presentation has more of a mobile feel, though its complexity is higher than that
  • Though random villagers will gripe at you in-game there aren’t advisors like in some games to point out things going wrong more clearly