Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt (Xbox One) Review

By Josh Di Falco 17.12.2020

Review for Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt on Xbox One

City-builders are a plentiful genre, with all assortments of titles available on both consoles and mobile phones, and they range from the simplistic takes, to those that require extreme micro-managing and resource-management. HandyGames puts the medieval spin on Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt; a vast kingdom-builder that relies on setting up supply chains, and keeping the lines replenished and healthy, to ensure efficient production of the needs and desires of the townsfolk. Though the art style may give off the impression that this is mobile phone game, don't be fooled because this does contain quite a deep system of mechanics that will take getting used to. While this isn't the deepest resource-management title there is, paying attention to the various supply chains is the key to success and for a fast-growing kingdom, or else suffer the wrath of a lack of productivity, and as such, the increasingly frustrated townsfolk.

Opening up with a six-part campaign, this serves as a tutorial for understanding the mechanics and the flow of rebuilding a kingdom. With a subpar quality of storytelling and stereotypical characters, similar to those seen in mobile games like Homescapes, the narrative thread isn't necessary to understanding the basic fundamentals of rebuilding a kingdom. In the fact, the tutorial is actually quite informative, and the ever-helpful library of information in the options menu is always on hand for those in-depth learnings of how best to apply different buildings, or where to create certain resources. Beyond the campaign, there are plenty of scenarios and endless maps to get immersed in. Ranging from 'easy' to the 'hard' maps, there's heaps of content here to jump into, and ultimately get to the point of successfully rebuilding the Kingdom.

The idea in Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt is to build supply chains that will ultimately provide the fundamental resources required to build a prosperous and happy kingdom. Starting off with small townhouses, farms and wheat fields, watching the kingdom evolve with windmills that turn wheat into flour, and then the bakeries that in turn create bread is a satisfying sight. Should the wheels fall off anywhere within that supply chain, then bread won't be made, and the ever-pleasant townsfolk will become a wild, rabid mob instead. Satisfying the populace is easy; just ensure that none of the supply chains are held up by a lack of resources, or even worse, bandits.

Screenshot for Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt on Xbox One

See, Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt isn't just a resource-management experience. There is also that unhealthy aspect of the bandits or seasonal disasters that can rock the boat, or in some cases, sink the Titanic. Even the mightiest of kingdoms can fall to its knees due to bandits destroying the mine that produces ore, which in turn provides the kingdom with iron bars that ultimately supply the troops with their swords and armour. Even losing the woodcutter means no more harvesting wood which can be used to turn into planks, and thus serving as the essential resource for building new chains in the supply cogs.

For the most part, the micro-managing of resources can be kept to a minimum once the initial supply chains have been set up - and at that point, the main goal becomes keeping those bare essentials like wheat, ore, meat, wood and gold as plentiful as possible to enable all the other buildings and services around town to function. Keeping those bandits at bay isn't just as simple as building watchtowers or hiring guardsmen, though - there is still an RNG system at play that determines whether the soldiers are successful in repelling the attackers. Keeping the soldiers well-fed, with plenty of grog, and the best armour and weapons will increase their chances of winning, but that's merely it: a chance.

There is nothing more frustrating than losing a battle against the raiders, despite doing everything to ensure victory, because of the odd roll of the dice. In a sense, there has to be some sort of threat here that prevents Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt from becoming too easy to overcome, but the pooling of resources and the prioritisations of which supply line gets a specific resource is tricky enough as it is, especially in the early stages when resources aren't plentiful. The worst part about the bandits is that they are all too frequent - every 10 to 15 seconds there is always a new bandit in town threatening to tip the applecart. The frequency upon which they come can't even be influenced either. There's no nearby bandit camp to destroy to prevent these invaders from infiltrating... the Kingdom must simply continue to repel each attack, with no way to go on the offensive against these pesky camps.

Screenshot for Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt on Xbox One

One of the better features here are the changing-seasons and their effects on the kingdom's supply lines. While the wheat crops and farms can prosper with their resources in three of the seasons, bracing the wintry season is the most important aspect. Wheat and other farms don't produce the essentials during winter, so ensuring that the kingdom has enough of these prior to the season is paramount to making it through without upsetting the townsfolk. The market is essential to also making it through winter, where goods can be sold and bought. So for example, should the kingdom be lacking any wheat in the winter, the excess wood can be sold for gold, which can then go towards replenishing the wheat supply. While trading is essentially one of those features that can go unused in other city-builder titles, in Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt they can go a long way towards rescuing a kingdom from the clutches of failure.

While keeping the townsfolk well fed with the ever-flowing rum from the local tavern can go a long way, providing the folk with plenty of entertainment such as jousting competitions can also increase their happiness. Luxury clothes and jewellery so that the upper-class can differentiate themselves from the poor beggars is also a thing, therefore ensure that the townsfolk are kept happy by producing enough of these resources. The only desirable factor that isn't present here is the idea of having random requests from the folk. Sure, in the campaigns there are "quests" given by certain NPCs, but having randomly-generated requests from the townsfolk would've been a fun way to have the kingdom grow towards certain goals, in addition to the natural growth of the kingdom.

Screenshot for Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt on Xbox One

Other drawbacks that prevent Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt from fulfilling its fullest potential, is the inability to rotate the camera. Unfortunately, these are merely 2D sprites that are displayed on the map; and as such, this kingdom is missing the majestic views of a prospering kingdom. While the seasons are on show here, the lack of a day or night cycle would've also been an interesting take, as other city-builders have shown the flexibility that could be done by enabling different features around the clock. The notifications that frequently arise to report the stock shortages, bandit raids, or other minor or major events around the town become all too much with the various bubbles cluttering the left side of the screen. Enabling a feature that allows to minimise, hide, or delete certain alerts would've gone a long way to making the notifications feel less intrusive and obnoxious.

Beyond those points, everything else just seems so slow. There are only two speeds - normal speed, and 'x5' - but even on fast-forward, the building just takes forever. This isn't about the speeds per se, but rather the resource shortages that can hinder the progress of buildings going up. In the same manner in which roadworks in the real world can take eight months to complete a few hundred meters of work (at least in Australia), expect the same slow progress and delivery in here, as a multitude of buildings halt in their creation because they're all waiting on the required wood, or even more scarce: gold.

While the title boasts the ability to queue up buildings to get completed, even without money being available in the coffers, there couldn't be a worst way to do so. This is because there is no feature or way to prioritise certain buildings within the queue. What is the point in queuing up three or four buildings, if there is no way to tell the game which buildings should be prioritised first in terms of the required resources needed to fulfil the completion of the project? As such, the best way to manage resources here is to just build one thing at a time, so that way the townsfolk don't lose their minds at the prospect of having six incomplete construction sites.

Screenshot for Townsmen - A Kingdom Rebuilt on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Townsmen: A Kingdom Rebuilt is a fine experience to check out for those who wish to dabble in the fun and thoughtful process of setting up supply lines. While completing and overseeing a thriving supply line is quite a fulfilling process, and resource production becomes an automatic system, this is all that this seems to have going for it. Beyond ensuring that the cogs keep turning, there is a real lack of drive or motivation to keep progressing beyond keeping bandits and avalanches at bay. Despite the deep system that underlies the kingdom-building aspects, it's still missing a few ingredients that could've elevated this experience. However, for those searching for a new resource-management city-builder set in the medieval ages, this title is worth considering.

Developer

HandyGames

Publisher

HandyGames

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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