I seem to have turned into GodisaGeek’s resident farmer. Recently, I reviewed the latest Harvest Moon, wherein I farmed my way to prosperity. Now, once more I have been thrust into the lifestyle of farming and crafting for profit with TownCraft. As you’ve probably guessed from the title of this iPad-only app, this is yet another game inspired by the massively successful Minecraft – but this one is more about starting a town and business of your very own.
In an isometric medieval world, your chosen avatar starts with nothing. Taught to harvest sticks and stones from the nearby area, you are shown how to use rudimentary tools in order to obtain more useful resources, which can then be made into more useful objects- and the cycle continues as your crafting projects become bigger and bigger.
Initially, it’s quite a lonely life, your only human contact being the various traders and villagers that walk past via a road that runs through the middle of the play area. Traders can be a useful, if expensive, way to get hold of materials and items that can’t be obtained until your crafting operation is much more advanced. Meanwhile, villagers can sometimes provide crafting quests which can be completed for money or items. They can also be hired to perform some of the more mundane tasks such as gathering wood, fishing, farming, or even acting as staff in the shops and taverns you can eventually build as part of your empire.
TownCraft is certainly a slow burner, especially as the tutorial only takes you so far. Once the training wheels were removed, I felt there was too much that I didn’t understand, and I had no idea of what I should be doing next. It felt that the game relied on the player already being already versed in Minecraft and its ilk, and, as someone who doesn’t really understand the popularity of these games, I would have liked more of a helping hand. As it happens, I eventually managed to wrap my head around it, but a stronger, more comprehensive tutorial would have been appreciated.
Once I found a bit of help and started to find new ways to make money, I was able to afford some staff to do the boring stuff for me and the game began to open up. I started to explore the surrounding areas more, finding new resources and crops to replant in my growing town. New crafting opportunities came my way, and I began to turn my land into a shopping district – now villagers were coming to buy my fine clothes and drink the meads, beers and wines in my taverns. I was able to see the literal fruits of my labours, and this combined with the experimentation of crafting items, led to TownCraft becoming quite an addictive part of my morning commute.
But there are some issues. On the whole, its presentation is decent; its art style is cartoony and distinctive; however. its User Interface can be a little bit cumbersome. Resources and crafted objects litter your inventory in order of when they were obtained/crafted, which can make finding the item you need a real nightmare at times. Sometimes the black text will blend in with the occasionally very dark menus so you can’t even see it. It is also really difficult to drag items from the menu to where you want them to go; 90% of the time, I’d be dragging an item and it simply wouldn’t move. All of these things are simple UI faults that could have and should have easily been resolved before release. Hopefully, they’ll be fixed in future patches, as it makes the game look less than polished.
In fact, most of TownCraft’s issues resolve around that User Interface. It certainly feels like this is a work in progress project, which isn’t too much of a problem with this type of game. At least you know that the £2.99 you spend is all you’re asked for – you get the entire game, and nothing is locked off with in-app purchases.
VERDICT: The beginning of a really good crafting game is right here. It’s unpolished in places, and it could really do with some sort of social interaction/sharing, but its simplicity makes for a good introduction to the genre. It’s rewarding, if a little grindy in its initial few hours, but crafting fanatics will lap this up.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
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