Developer: Handy Games
Publisher: Handy Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Strategy & Simulation
Release Date: November 9, 2018 (EU & NA)
A simulator that could have done with being more simulating.
Beginning with Sim City in 1989, the city-building genre of video games has chugged right along, and moved into many different eras of time and locations, both inside and outside of our own stratosphere, and all platforms.
Townsmen takes us back to the days of feudalism in the middle ages of Europe, and had its start on mobile platforms over a decade ago. With its roots being on mobile platforms, it plays out exactly as you would expect it to, but more on that later.
Townsmen begins with a very long tutorial that teaches you everything that you need to know about the game, although it is incredibly excessive because the pattern the game follows is a predictable one, and once you go through a few cycles of growth it becomes evident what needs to be done.
In summary, you need resources, so you need to build the appropriate building that will help you make that resource. Then you build houses to house enough workers to staff those buildings. Then you build a processing station to make those resources into something useful, then a new technology unlocks and you need to build a facility to make that new technology, which is fine, as city-building games are centered towards people that like to micro manage everything, and resource management is a large portion of that.
In addition to this resource management, there are also research tasks that you undertake, which are kind of like your skills in the game. Unfortunately, there isn’t much actual control over this. You earn experience and over time you just unlock these research tasks without any additional effort on your end. I didn’t even know that they were part of the game until I completed research upon leveling up.
These research tasks will bring new members of your population with a specialized skill (such as a geologist to discover new types of ore and improve your ore haul), or just a small bonus to a resource like how much money you collect from taxes. To give a quick overview of the game and its resources, you will need a few things to make just about everything in the game- Thelar (your currency), workers, and time.
There are also materials required to make certain things (you need a farm to harvest wheat, you need wheat to bake bread, you need a mine to collect ore, then you need an armory to make ore into weapons, etc.). The way you make money is by collecting taxes. To collect taxes, you need to have homes that house families, who will also provide labor for your various locations. Sometimes you just need more workers to haul things from the facility that it is being produced in.
You can raise taxes to collect more money, but that also decreases general happiness and raises the likelihood of your workers going on strike. When you are building new facilities, you can decrease the amount of time it will take by assigning another worker to the unit, but there is also prestige.
Prestige is the mobile game representative here. You earn prestige by completing certain missions, and prestige allows you to instantly build any new facility if you have enough to spare. The missions to complete in the game are split between main missions and side missions. Side missions tend to be villager requests, while main missions tend to be more focused on completing a task that will help you advance the technology or standing of your village.
If all of this sounds tedious and repetitive to you- a means of satisfying that endless cycle of “press the button, get a treat, press the button, get a treat, press the button, wait a little longer, get a treat” that mobile games have become painfully infamous for…then you’d be right.
Townsmen isn’t a bad or broken game, and many people will find it to be familiar and satisfying. I, however, am not in that audience. I just kind of find it insubstantial in comparison to more robust experiences.
Everything is streamlined to the point where you don’t really need to explore your town outside of building new facilities (which is an almost constant thing), because any time something breaks down, you just get a notification and are given the solution. “The town is on fire, build a fire watch tower” “The bandits are raiding, you need guard towers” and as a final complaint, there seems to be no impetus to just explore the menus and figure things out for yourself.
Quite simply, if you have read all of this and still want to dive into the governor’s castle, know that you should consolidate your buildings, and build up a workforce early on to make sure you have a steady flow of tax income and labor. You will need it. A lot of it. Good luck, governor, but there are better options for you on the Nintendo Switch.
THE VERDICT: 5/10
*Review Key Provided by Handy Games
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This post was written by sodamancer