Lately I’ve been playing an interesting game called Towns I bought on the steam sale which has had me quite engrossed for long periods of time. In essence it’s a game about creating and maintaining a town (hence the name) , providing for it in all usual ways like food production and resource gathering. The interesting part though is that underneath your town is increasing levels of terrible monsters which certain adventurers that pop by love to smash face with.
It’s kind of like being on the opposite end of dungeon keeper in a way. Keep you adventurers fed, housed, and healthy who plunder wealth from below. It isn’t overly complex in its goals, just an overarching message of dig.. Dig as deep as you can but there is a bit of thought and town management that goes into it all. The adventurers are often times rather inept and cowardly, often times getting into situations they can’t handle and then running away to the safety of town with a train of mobs following. It is your job to handle the situation and keep the town safe.
The game kind of remind me of the early settler titles just without the fiddly kind of micro organisation. The management of the game is primarily done through issued command either with basic gathering commands, item placement, or through setting resource levels. this may seem simplistic but it has a certain flair to the town management which comes off as unique.. not revolutionary at all but its own rhythm too work within.
It involves finding the right balance of having enough orders to keep the town busy but not overwhelm it as when the town is overwhelmed with orders you might not see priority builds getting done when needed or even food production drying up. Too much to do will see the populous scrabbling around everywhere and just generally being idiots and forgetting everything that needs doing. You can’t even be sure that of commands that were ordered first being completed first, there is just no order to their actions at all except any gathering command having priority.
It is rather infuriating at times not being able to assign specific role or priority builds as needed things can take far too long. Without specialization it feels like the town is under the command of some sort of hive mind, orders are for everyone. It works at a basic level since it really demands constant attention and thought about priorities but not having a cancellation order makes it more frustrating then it needs to be.
There is a bit of progression involved in the game so it isn’t just mindless create and digging, you can of course continue to create in any way you see fit and it’s often advisable to create a certain efficiency with your town and full fleshed out building due to the bonuses they give in production time. But that is not the focus of the progression, your aim is to keep digging and unearthing new horrors and being prepared to deal with them.
You will constantly be upgrading the towns people with new armour and weapons with your front line guards and patrol groups being the best geared, but you really don’t want to let anyone be unprepared. Most of the rare materials needed are found underground and will need to be gathered. The towns people have a knack for getting into trouble and then trying to fight to the death regardless of their chances or health so as you progress further into the depths of the earth you will need to keep everyone prepared.
It is an engrossing experience that has taken up many hours and long stretches already. It taps that core building urge I get from time to time that the age old games like theme hospital and constructor had which has fully latched onto my nostalgia gene, not exactly at that level of charm but the feel is there. This little ramble doesn’t do it justice as it is the emergent experiences and decision making that pop up during play which make it exciting. I may just make a village of the Damned diary to try and better explain why I like it but also how everyone’s experience will be different.
There is a little bit of controversy to the game at the moment, currently it is well behind the development plan and content updates due to one of the developers personal problems. Many are really angry about it but honestly.. I chalk that up to gamers being a rather obnoxious self entitled group. Would the promised features be great sure but the game stands pretty darn well on it’s own and for the price is well worth it, I’ve already sunk more hours into it then many AAA games.