Game Reviews


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| Townsmen
| Townsmen

As one well-meaning but confused speller points out on the Google Play comments for Townsmen: HandyGames is a developer that's "gone rouge".

No, the team behind Guns 'n' Glory hasn't used too much blusher. Instead, it's invested heavily into the "rogue" practice of freemium-only gaming.

Yes, you get to play the shiniest new incarnation of the pastoral city-building sim for nought but your time, yet at every turn the spectre of another in-app purchase hangs over you like a feudal lord demanding extortionate rent.

Settle down

Eschewing the stresses of managing a bustling metropolis, the long-running Townsmen series takes you back to a gentler time. A simple balance of basic food, manual labour, and low rent will keep your subjects happy.

Set in lush green groves, surrounded by copses of trees ready to be chopped down, lakes and rivers to fish dry, and mines to plunder ore from, this semi-reboot is a charmingly picturesque place to watch over from your God's-eye perspective.

It's a cinch to control. You can decree where you want each new structure to be placed by simply choosing it from a tap menu and then dragging and dropping the foundations.

Then, once you've mastered the basics of your society's supply and demand economy, keeping your populace happy and busy technically offers the perfect recipe for a relaxing little time sink. Technically, anyway.

Heavy is the head

Instead, unless you play the more soothing and unrestricted Sandbox modes, you'll find yourself embroiled in some staggeringly drawn-out Missions.

Not only do you have to build a thriving community in these levels, but you're also expected to perform more elaborate quests - like building four jousting arenas for the King.

This involves knocking up chains of buildings to supply just the right goods - a process that takes an eternity unless you speed the process up with quite pricey Prestige IAPs.

Suddenly, the fun is cruelly sapped from the game and every action requires counting the loose change in your virtual money bag. Even the game itself is blocked by a massive, overbearing banner ad that can, you guessed it, only be removed with an IAP.

This money-grabbing quickly saps nearly all the pastoral pleasures out of the Townsmen series, as the happiness of your populace gets relegated to your frantic need to build and harvest just enough to keep playing.

With the remaining two missions needing even more Prestige just to unlock them, it's very clear just how damaging to a hit series going "rouge" can be.


Townsmen's picturesque screenshot appeal belies a secret society of unending freemium costs and sluggish, drawn-out gameplay
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo