In the world of movies, the higher the number following a film’s title, the worse it’s likely to be. Take Police Academy 6 or Rocky V, for example. However, with video games the opposite is usually true.
Townsmen 6 is the latest instalment in HandyGames’s long-running empire-building franchise and despite the astonishingly high standard set by previous entries it manages to outshine them all.
But before we plough headlong into unfettered praise, a summary of the game is probably in order. In Townsmen 6 you’re dropped into revolutionary France and must assist your downtrodden kinsmen in their struggle to escape the yoke of monarchic rule.
Thankfully the game ignores the less appealing aspects of this infamous uprising (the more squeamish amongst you will be reassured to learn that no beheadings take place) to focus on the vital task at hand - creating a prosperous country packed with happy and contented ‘Townies’.
Each mission starts with you locating your Guild Hall, which serves as your HQ. Before you can expand you obviously need subjects to command, so you have to construct settlements for them to inhabit. People need feeding, which calls for the hasty erection of farms, fishing huts and bakeries.
These various buildings don’t appear out of thin air, so you’ll also need to construct quarries for stone and woodcutters for - you’ve guessed it - wood.
As your town begins to develop, you need more people to perform the various tasks and that means more settlements. Each settlement brings with it two additional townies, and each building (with a couple of exceptions) requires at least one townie to keep it operational.
At times, you’ll need to move your available townies between buildings in order to keep production going and therefore hit your various objectives - which range from amassing a certain amount of a commodity and building a pre-determined number of structures to successfully conquering rival towns.
As you conquer each region you’re returned to a map of France where you’re able to select the next territory you’d like to enter.
It goes without saying that the King of France is hardly going to stand by and watch as you encourage his people to rise up against him, and by the time you’ve completed the first few missions - which serve as a neat tutorial into the inner workings of Townsmen 6 - you’ll be facing off against the might of the royal army.
During these missions your objective remains the same - to create a productive and thriving town - but you’ll be given the opportunity to acquire buildings either by force or persuasion.
The former option is achieved by sending in soldiers, whereas the latter involves sweet-talking the hostile residents via the use of silver-tongued propagandists.
It’s impossible to adequately describe the sheer depth of the game in a review of this size, but suffice to say that Townsmen 6 is a match even for the likes of the Anno series on the PC and - more recently - Nintendo DS.
It’s not just in terms of gameplay that it impresses, either - the visuals are stunning, with stacks of vibrant, bustling detail. While the average mobile phone screen hardly ranks as the best way to play a game of this type, not once does your enjoyment of Townsmen 6 feel compromised.
Every facet of the graphical detail - from the ripples of waves on the sea to the angry protestations of your townies when you fail to appease their needs - is represented brilliantly.
Townsmen 6 is a complete triumph and ranks as one of the most arresting mobile phone games we’ve yet encountered. That such depth and complexity can be found in a mobile phone game is incredible.
Who knows what kind of pleasures HandyGames has in store for the inevitable sequel?