I am not a fan of games that don’t respect my time as a player. It leaves me a little at odds with games in the mobile space, especially the free-to-play ones that give you five minutes worth of things to do and 24 hours worth of bars to fill to do it with. Yes, I know they are designed for short bursts, but that doesn’t stop them from loading up with different currencies meant to speed up the bars, just in case you have a little extra time, or you just don’t feel like waiting. That aspect is always something that has amazed me about games ported from the mobile space. When they make the jump from my pocket to my monitor, what changes do they make to account for the difference in time spent playing.
Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt is one of those ports where I have to question just what the developers were thinking when bringing it over in the state it’s in. Feeling fresh off my phone, this kingdom/town sim tries to offer a lighter experience than most other titles in its genre, focusing less on the perfect placement of elements and more on the “you have to keep track of all this stuff” gameplay that works when you are checking in on it every hour, but not when it’s open on the screen in front of you.
Following a light story of a feudal lord exiled from a kingdom due to a misunderstanding, Townsmen starts you off with a small town that grows slowly under your tutelage until it’s a thriving… umm, town. You do this by ordering your “Townees” to construct various buildings that allow them in turn to perform a variety of functions, from simple things like woodcutting and hunting, to more specialized work like smelting and tool making. Figuring out which buildings you need for what is fairly simple, and the tutorial leads you through a build order to make sure your Townees have clothes and food.
From a broad level, that all sounds fine, but once you get down to the actual building process and running a town, Townsmen’s mobile roots come out with a vengeance. The very act of building is a simple process: Open the build menu, find the building you want, find an open space on the map (or make one using the destruction tool), and place the building. Once you’re here, a literal hole in the ground opens up, and if you have an available Townee, they begin the utterly arduous journey of building. Materials have to be picked up and carted over to the site, little bits of a progress bar are filled, and then more materials have to be gathered. At no point do you need to do anything else for the build to happen, you just have to wait. And wait. And wait.
I was three maps in when I realized that while waiting for buildings to appear, or waiting for materials to be farmed so I could build said buildings, I wasn’t actually playing the game, but clicking a few buttons and then reading through social media on my phone. Or watching a stream on Twitch. Or helping my wife in the kitchen. Or any other thing except playing this game. And if I’m going to not be playing this game, I’m simply not going to play this game. Yes, occasionally other things happen. Buildings need to be repaired, seasons change, sometimes your town is raided by bandits or your buildings catch fire. Regardless of what it is, it’s all simply another bar to fill up or an icon to click off.
Gameplay aside, there are other things that just make Townsmen a chore to deal with. The UI is functional but a bother to get around, especially when dealing with buildings specifically. There’s a lot of information available, but none of it is easy to digest despite the fact that nearly all of it is displayed in big clickable buttons that would be helpful on a phone. Moving around the map is slow, and any attempt I made to move the camera with anything other then the mouse ended up with me just going back to the mouse and sighing.
In all honesty, if you really want to play Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt you would be better off playing it on whatever mobile device you are using. As it is, the port to PC has not only done the game no favors but actively leaves it worse by a wide margin. If you are looking to build, I would find a different kingdom to do it in.
Reviewer and Editor for Darkstation by day, probably not the best superhero by night. I mean, look at that costume. EEK!