Having played town simulations and strategy games before, I knew to anticipate a challenge when booting up Townsmen. What I didn’t expect was to spend the first 20 minutes struggling to even get a handle on the controls. However, this did not set the tone for my whole experience. Thanks to some well-implemented help features, I waded into the thick of things and began to fully enjoy what Townsmen brings to the table.
Although it is quite time-consuming, I think Townsmen has a lot going for it. I especially enjoyed the featured story, the overall medieval theme, and game mechanics. There is a definite learning curve, and the console controls are not exactly intuitive, so players new to the genre will want to spend some time with the game’s help features active. This help will ultimately save hours of potential frustration, even if the features themselves can get a bit annoying. More experienced players will shut them off quickly. In any case, once you have a feel for the game’s many mechanics, a wealth of neat features and details await.
As the new Lord of an up-and-coming town, Townsmen challenges you to keep it thriving by building key features and keeping a steady stream of workers fed, clothed, happy, and profitable. You also have to deal with a scandal from your past, which I will let you discover on your own. The game is fair; it will be smooth sailing once you get past the initial learning curve.
Keeping your villagers happy is key to getting through this game. If a building is on fire, build a watchtower nearby so that the flames are put out fast. Produce enough food to keep your people from going hungry, and be absolutely certain that your tavern is running smoothly! While building and managing your town, you can take advantage of handy QOL features, like a fast forward button, so that you are never sitting around waiting for something to happen. Though, with the many obstacles the game throws at you, that would have been a rare occurrence anyway.
One of these obstacles is constantly changing seasons, refreshing the standard trials and tribulations every few in-game months. Winter is especially challenging–farmers can no longer work the fields, so you have to engineer other ways to produce food and protect the town from total ruin. Its features like this that keep Townsmen exciting as you work through the campaign and its scenarios.
Townsmen has several other tricks up its sleeve beyond the weather. There is an optional military feature including soldiers and bandits. You’ll have to contend with natural disasters such as floods, disease, fire, and droughts. Even once you’ve completed the main game, there is an unrestricted sandbox mode that lets you run completely wild–though I don’t recommend jumping into that until after you’re comfortable taking off the training wheels.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Townsmen. It is a fun game, a great time-waster, and it really made my brain work, which is always a plus. It looks and plays very well. I enjoyed getting my medieval game on and I am confident others will as well. The complicated controls and learning curve may turn newer players off, but if you enjoy strategy games, you will have a good time building and maintaining your realm in Townsmen.