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"Townsmen" Mobile Game Review

Refinné is a budding games journalist with a heavy focus on casual mobile games that don't demand too much of her single brain cell.

"Townsmen" feature art.

"Townsmen" feature art.

Townsmen Building Simulator Mobile Game

Townsmen is a medieval city-building simulator that I spent a good amount of time on during high school and recently picked up again while working from home (thanks, pandemic!). It’s a casual city-building game that is very addictive and makes time just fly by.

Like most farming or building simulators, this is an endless game, but it can be repetitive as you play your way up and the quests start to repeat themselves. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take too much energy or effort to play, making it a nice, relaxing game to settle in with in the evening.

Game Overview

The core of the game is to build a self-sustained medieval city and keep your people happy. There are two modes that you can play in Townsmen: Scenario and Sandbox mode.

  • Scenario Mode: In Scenario Mode you are presented with a storyline, either a visiting monarch, war, famine, economic crisis, or more, which you need to fulfill quests to complete. There’s always already some kind of base established in the Scenario modes. The scenarios range in difficulty and land size. After completing the storyline, you can either begin another scenario or continue in sandbox mode.
  • Sandbox Mode: In Sandbox mode, you are presented with a clean slate and will need to start your city from the ground up. There are various land types that you can choose from, each varying in resources according to the biome. There’s no particular storyline in the sandbox mode, but there will be quests that pop up occasionally to give you a bit of a challenge.
Sandbox mode

Sandbox mode

Scenario mode

Scenario mode

Buildings and People

There are many buildings available in Townsmen, from food to production, and everything is connected. To get your workforce, you need to build townhouses, which comes in different sizes for different cost and materials. Once you get enough people in your city, you can start producing the resources you need to build your city, including food, water, and entertainment.

Apart from meeting the needs of your people, you’ll also need to watch for their happiness because unhappy citizens don’t pay taxes, and their productivity also tanks with the happiness level. Build entertainment and community buildings to fulfill their desires.

Loads of buildings to build

Loads of buildings to build

Watch out for your Townies happiness levels!

Watch out for your Townies happiness levels!

Currency

The main currency is Thaler, which is essentially golden coins. Most of your income will be through collecting taxes from townhouses. You’ll need Thaler to build and upgrade buildings around your city. Premium currency is called Prestige, which you can earn by completing quests or going for the Ol’ Faithful, watching ads.

Collect taxes from townhouses

Collect taxes from townhouses

My Honest Review

I’m always a sucker for idle farming games. I love the little townspeople that I can follow around while they do their thing. They’re also difficult to please, so happiness is a bit of a challenge in a game that is otherwise really chill and easy to play. The graphics are simple and reasonably smooth, not without the occasional lag when I’m running a large city, though that could be because I’m playing on an old iPad.

I like that no one controls you what to build, where to build, or when to build, unless, of course, you are playing in Scenario mode. But even then, you’re given a lot of freedom to place your buildings wherever and however you want. The game certainly takes “build your own city” true to heart, and I really like that.

A little graveyard I built in my medieval city!

A little graveyard I built in my medieval city!

Is It Realistic?

I don’t know what an actual medieval city is like, but the game certainly follows real-life physics reasonably well. Everything in the game is tied to each other. You can’t make planks without wood, and you can’t build buildings without planks, and right from the beginning, no wood without a forester. You can’t bake bread without flour, you can’t make flour without wheat, and there’s no wheat if you don’t build a farm first. All this makes the game even more real, in a sense, giving you the feeling that you are genuinely building a city that has interconnecting relationships and desires.

All buildings need something from another building.

All buildings need something from another building.

Monetization

Prestige is not hard to earn. Apart from watching ads, they can be obtained in the Scenario mode, provided you’re patient enough to get through with it. However, the game has forced ads at the top of the game that you have to pay to get rid of, which I did not appreciate. Monetization in casual games has gotten much subtle in recent years, so that threw me off a little.

There are probably not going to be a lot of content updates, given how old it is. It’s not much of a bother, though. A game can go on pretty much forever, and if you get bored of one, you can always start again. There are still plenty of scenarios for me to play through, so content is not much of a concern right now.

The Verdict

Townsmen is a timeless game. It’s a straightforward game that appeals to the slow-paced gamer, but the lack of combat and overall aggressiveness may render it more of an afterthought. Likewise, I only came back to the game because I had nothing better to do during quarantine. There’s undoubtedly better resource-management and city-building sims around that might offer more exciting gameplay, but for time killing, I’d say Townsmen does what it’s intended.

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