Posted on June 7, 2014 AT 12:02pm
One of my least favorite things about gaming on a mobile device, like an iPhone or iPad, are the inclusions of in-app-purchases. As such, when I saw TownCraft for iOS proudly proclaim that contained no such transactions, it attracted my attention. Not sure what I might be getting into from there, I found myself playing a game with one such a deft touch, I had be impressed.
When first starting TownCraft, you’re given a decently expansive tutorial that shows you the basics of creating in this world. Once you know the bare bones of what you can do, it offers to start a new game. You’re then dropped into an tiled world with an isometric view and from there, you’re basically left to your own devices. What remains is an experience that all depends on your creativity.
TownCraft is a game all about gathering resources and using them to build up your town and expand your pool of resources and tools. Whether it be food or minerals, you can set workers to gather resources for you, for a small fee, or walk around and gather them yourself. As merchants walk past, you can then trade for more resources or just sell your goods for straight up cash. Lather rinse and repeat this process, while completing missions, in various environments and you’ve got this in-app-purchase-free mobile game in a nutshell. The closest comparison I could possibly make would be Don’t Starve, but you don’t have to worry about being killed in this game.
The thing I most admire about this game is the subtle way it encourages you to play around and experiment. In the tutorial, it shows you how to craft items, but doesn’t give you much in the way of what you can craft. Once it turns you loose, there will occasionally be someone walking by your town. These people will either be merchants, buying and selling goods, or quest givers. These quests are usually pretty simple and just involve putting a certain number of items in your stash. While you could easily just mess around forever and do fine, these missions serve to stop and make you think about the progression of crafting. I found myself often stopping and thinking, “Huh, it wants me to make a cuff. I wonder how I make a cuff.” This fuels the feeling of exploration and discovery and makes that moment when you figure it out all the more rewarding.
Touch controls still aren’t quite there for me in a lot of ways and TownCraft does suffer for me a bit because of this fact. Touching occasionally feels clunky and imprecise, but I’m always glad when no attempt is made to put a virtual gamepad on a screen. The controls for TownCraft are only taps and swipes, which is the right thing to do, especially for this game in particular because of the all the things happening onscreen.
This game is so robust, I’ve been playing it for a few weeks and feel like there’s a lot more to be seen. If you’re a fan of games where you spend a great deal of time building and customizing a town, this may be the right game for you. If you’re looking for something to just pick up while waiting in line somewhere, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for in a game. Either way, I’ve had a good time with it and look forward to seeing what new combinations I’ll be able to make.
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