[Review] Townsmen – Nintendo Switch

Townsmen

Introducing Townies and Townettes

Never let it be said that I am any good at resource management games. For the most part I enjoy playing them, probably because I get a little kick out of all the various numbers going up but generally I tend to completely overlook one crucial aspect of the delicate plate spinning act and as soon as something I inevitably overlooked occurs there’s more broken crockery on the floor than a Greek wedding.

With that said I was very excited to get hands on with Townsmen, a charming medieval town building simulator, from HandyGames. But unfortunately my personal feelings are mixed. However I believe some of the game play aspects that frustrated me will probably have the opposite on some one who is a bit more au fait with micro-managing.
Let’s get into it shall we.

We shall

Townsmen has you take charge of a tiny little back-water medieval village and you, the player, are tasked with raising up to be a bustling Metropolis. Starting out it’s all very simple, your town needs workers who will build new structures for you and also go to work in various production building such as farms and mines. Much like any town-building sim setting up a solid economy early is the key. Building more houses will give you access to more workers and gold, gold being probably the most important resource of them all as it is used for pretty much everything.
And there is my first annoyance with the game. Townsmen is very eager for you starting new buildings quickly but without hard cash, production slows right down and can occasionally just halt having you sat there just waiting for more money to come in. This breaks up the game play as there’s is very little else you can do but sit and wait. Using the x5 speed button becomes a complete necessity half the time just to try and get your little fella to get the things you need and even then it can be a good few minutes of waiting for something to be done. All the while time flies on, potentially drawing your close bandits raids that you aren’t readily prepared for or the need to repair buildings which of course, costs gold!

Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace

Later on in production you can build a market in which you can buy and sell all the available resources in the game and this becomes an absolutely invaluable way of making money quickly. However the merchant only comes to town every 5 or so minutes and only stays for a certain amount of time so you better hope the random number generator gods are on your side encase he isn’t available when you desperately need him.

Now RNG (Random Number Generator) is the subject of my second frustration with Townsmen. As you have no direct control over the soldiers and workers, you’re fully at the AI’s mercy when it comes to them actually doing what you have assigned them to do. On more than one occasion a bandit was busily burning down one of my fine townspeople’s houses and the soldiers seemed to just wander around aimlessly for a while before thinking; “Oh, maybe I should do my job and save that families life.” by which point the dastardly bandit had already burned the house to the ground and the fire is quickly spreading through the town. Meanwhile the worker assigned to the water towers is currently on route to the pub. It’s exceptionally vexing!

I’m always apprehensive when top down strategy-esque titles such as Townsmen get released on home consoles namely because mouse/keyboard and even mobile touchscreens control methods tend to be quicker and more intuitive. Speed often being a key part of the micro-managing aspect of most resource management simulator. However, the Switch version is pleasantly easy to get around in, the building menus are all nicely ordered and laid out for ease of navigation. Pressing down of the D-pad brings out a view of the various area of effect building such as guard and water towers so you can easily check on which parts of you town are unprotected.

Conclusion

My final thoughts are tricky. Although I, personally, didn’t get on with Townsmen that’s not to say it’s a bad game. Indeed some of the things I didn’t like, a seasoned resource-manager, with a fetish for constantly trying to fix an ever growing list of problems, would almost definitely love.
If you’re in the market for an utterly charming looking, almost idle game style town simulator you could do a lot worse than Townsmen. However if the idea of stress-fully  juggling multiple resources and trying, mostly in vain, to make sure everything runs smoothly feels you with existential dread like it does me; I’d maybe give this one a miss.

Worth a shot for an ardent RTS enthusiast
3/5

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