Townsmen is long running town building franchise that has come to the Nintendo Switch. Like many strategy games, the core of the game revolves around gathering resources and adding buildings to the kingdom. The gameplay is smooth by utilizing the touch controls of the Switch and the art style of the cartoony medieval kingdom is charming.
The core gameplay mechanic of Townsmen is gathering resources to expand your kingdom. This is achieved by building places for villagers to live and then tasking them to perform an expanding array of jobs. Both the touch controls and regular controls of the Switch are fluid and easy to use after playing the game for a while. I found myself using them conjunctively most of the time with no issues in using mixed controls. The one issue I had was that I couldn’t find a way to rotate the screen.
There are 26 scenarios in the game which serve as an extended tutorial. There is also a sandbox mode with a wide variety of terrain options. After playing through a few of the scenarios, I found the sandbox option to be the mode I preferred. The scenarios are interesting in that the choices you make in one extend to subsequent chapters. For example, I like that the sawmill stayed in the same spot throughout the scenarios I played. Another interesting aspect I like is that as you play the game, you can experience which can be used to research enhancements. These enhancements stick with you regardless of the game mode.
If your villagers aren’t happy, they will let you know.
You can task the villagers to perform all sorts of tasks from gathering food, wood, or stone. Other villagers are needed to make clothing or bread. What sets Townsmen apart from other games that I have played like this is that some villagers are needed to move goods from one building to another. The logs won’t make their way to the warehouse on their own. It is a delicate balance of having enough villagers to perform the needed jobs and the resources to keep them fed and happy. I found that it’s best to build one thing at a time. Otherwise, you will have a lot of unfinished projects. If the villagers don’t have what they need for the growing community, they become unhappy fast. You can’t be an absentee liege and have a happy village.
The animations of Townsmen make the villages seem like they are alive.
The art style of Townsmen really appeals to me. The cartoony graphics do well for a game like this. Seeing the villagers move around during their daily hustle and bustle is fun, especially when you use the fast forward feature. The little animations such as the windmill rotating (or not rotating if a villager isn’t working there) add a level of depth to the game. I also like that the seasons change. There are weather changes as well. These have both a visual change but also effect gameplay. For example, wheat will not grow in winter. I like the fact that the villages seem alive since there is always something going on it. In other games in the genre that I have played, there is usually only movement when you task a unit to do something. The Townsmen feels like it is a living village, due in no small part to the in depth art style.
Overall, the gameplay is a lot of fun and this the kind of game that can draw the player in for hours. If shorter scenarios is more what you are looking for, the scenarios fill that role. Its simplistic gameplay makes it accessible to gamers of experience levels. This is a good starting point if you are new to strategy games but also not so simple it will bore experienced players of the genre. Townsmen is a solid 3.5/5.