Towns is a town-building real time strategy game that is currently in pre-alpha support. What this means is that, just like you hopefully did with Minecraft all that time ago, you can buy the game now to support the developers as they are developing it. In return you’ll get the game and all its future updates, not to mention a discount of 50%.
Towns is, at its heart, a town-building game. You’ll build personal rooms (read: bedrooms) for your civilians, carpentries for working with wood, masonries for stone, forges to forge metals and a bunch of other self-explanatory rooms.[drop]Naturally, you’ll acquire the resources to do all this from the environment you’re inhabiting – chopping down trees for wood, harvesting fruit, digging for coal, iron and copper, planting wheat farms, and so on. Resource management is key here, as it is in any RTS. If you run out of food your villagers will starve, if you have no wood you can’t build anything, so go chop some trees down.
You’ll also want to build some weapons. Two floors below the veritable utopia you are building for your villagers lurk an overwhelming horde of monsters who are just waiting for a taste of pixelly villager flesh. From slimes, spiders and goblins to hobgoblins and direwolves, you do not want your villagers to encounter them unprepared.
Well that’s fine, you might think, you just won’t go below the first underground level and they won’t be able to bother you, you can just resource-manage and build in monster-free bliss. As you can tell from the obvious narrative device, that is not an option.
Towns is unforgiving and, at times, a bitch. Sieges are when a horde of enemies randomly appear at some point on the map and just wander around. Whilst wandering they have a habit of sticking their weaponry into the limbs of any unprotected villagers you may have and they are not to be trifled with. The thing to do is to arm your villagers with armour and weapons so they can defend themselves. Even if its made from wood, a villager will be thankful for its long sword when it’s set upon by a goblin leader, and you’ll be glad when they survives.
One of the big pluses of Towns is how quickly you learn how to play. I don’t necessarily mean the way to build a room, or make bread, or how to build a mine shaft. That can be picked up by looking through the wiki, as incomplete and imperfect as it may be. No, I mean you will learn how to play.
Early on you’ll learn not to delve too deep too quickly, and that attacking monsters is not necessarily going to end in victory. You’ll learn to be careful, and to take your time. You’ll learn your preferred and most optimal layouts for your town, and whether you’d prefer it to be above or below ground. And most importantly, you will learn to arm your villagers. The first time you accidentally let a rampaging hobgoblin into your town or a siege of goblin leaders mercilessly cuts through your villagers like a hot knife through unprepared butter is an exceptionally good lesson in why those virtual figures in your charge should be carrying weaponry.[drop2]Honestly, I haven’t been as enraptured with a new game since the first time I played Minecraft. They’re completely different games, obviously, but Minecraft is the standard of engrossed fascination I hold all new games up to and Towns is most definitely on the same level. My villages have been wiped out by sieges and died of starvation, and my silly mistakes have led to entire villages being torn apart, yet I still return to try again. And again. And again. If that doesn’t illustrate just how full of potential Towns is I’m afraid you’re a lost cause, as I don’t think I can spend any more time away from the game to convince you otherwise.
Towns is available either from the official website on Windows, Linux and OSx for €9.45 (about £8.12) or from Desura for £7.99. There is also a demo that allows you 20 in-game days which, to be honest, is longer than you’re likely to last in your first few goes anyway. Yes, it will run on your computer, and there is a reasonably good starter’s guide here to try and get your brain running, too.