Townsmen is a mobile franchise that won't die. Just as you think you've mastered one game, it comes back in a new version for you to get sucked into. And believe us when we say that's a very good thing.
So what's new? Well, now you're no longer some nice leader of your devoted followers building successful settlements. Instead you're a 'merciless robber baron', oppressing your people, abducting dragons to drain their blood and amassing a vast fortune.
Rather than simply building a settlement to raise gold, the aim in Townsmen 5 is to put the meddlesome wizard Celrdon in his place. It seems your people spend too much time worshipping him and not paying you taxes. Needless to say, that won't do.
So, over 14 levels, the plan is to build your settlement with farms, mines, taverns, tax collectors, druids, outposts and castles. Then, when you're ready, you can go and put that pesky wizard in his place.
Elements of the core premise may have changed, but one thing that has to be said for this latest Townsmen is that it's still a deep, intricate game behind its cutesy graphics, and it'll keep you going for days. Each level has targets to achieve, which effectively teach you step-by-step how to build an invincible army for kicking wizard butt.
At first, the temptation to build quickly is great, but running out of cash, supplies and men soon forces you to be patient. It's confusing initially yet you soon learn how and when you need to create certain buildings so you don't go bankrupt. Luckily, you can also skip time when your men are hard at work, and you can sell surplus supplies to visiting merchants, raising much-needed cash.
To those not versed in Townsmen folklore, the whole joined-up nature of the game, with everything impacting on and depending on everything else, will seem bewildering at first. However, the campaign's structure is such that you soon get your head around how to manage your town and ensure you have the necessary money and resources to keep it going.
The addition of the dragons is a neat touch. Every now and again they attack you, meaning you need soldiers and catapults to fight them off. You can leave your men to it, or fight off the dragons yourself in a mini-game. It's fun but, to be honest, not that easy to play and you'll have more success letting your men get on with it. Capture a dragon, and your druid will drain its blood and make magic potions to help your soldiers.
It's just one of many masterful touches. Taken as a whole, Townsmen 5 is great fun and dangerously engrossing as you get sucked into the life-consuming cycle of amassing supplies and money, while the addition of the 14-level campaign adds a sense of purpose. And once you've done that, there are six open-ended scenarios available with the chance to play god to your heart's content.
In other words, this comes hugely recommended. There's enough here to keep you going for ages, it's terrific fun, and, pleasingly, needs more than a little bit of brain power to successfully micro-manage your settlement. One of the best – if not the best – god games for mobile.