Fabledom review

by on May 13, 2024
Reviewed On
Release Date

May 13, 2024


Usually if a city builder sells itself on being “laid back” it’s going to be fairly minimalist. There’s often little in terms of diplomacy, and most of the resource gathering is pretty simple. Fabledom, from Grenaa Games and Dear Villagers, manages to maintain its laid back focus while still having its share of courtly intrigue and territory grabbing. That said, as it comes out of early access, Fabledom is so laid back that the concept of going to war feels almost completely incongruous.

Having spent a year in early access it’s hitting 1.0 in a pretty polished state, launching with a Campaign Mode and a Creative Mode in which everything is unlocked and free from the start and you can just build your city from scratch without worrying about, well, anything. But obviously this also robs much of the challenge. The meat of Fabledom is in the campaign.

Here you pick a starting country and then decide if you’re a Prince or Princess, and if you’re looking for one or the other, as the ultimate goal here is to form strong alliances and turn your fledgling hamlet into a fairytale superstate. It begins with a wagon full of supplies and four peasants, called “Fablings”, and a narrator guides you through your first steps with a bog standard “elderly British dude” voiceover.

Fabledom review

You drop a labourer’s camp to build homesteads, which allow you to move in more Fablings. It’s very similar to Manor Lords, actually, though more simplified and user friendly. Homesteads can have random attachments in the back gardens like beehives and doghouses, and you can drop the foundations in strange configurations if you wish. But you’ll also need to keep your Fablings busy, which means building lumber camps, granaries, fisher huts, stone quarries, and coal burners. You’ll also need farms so you can plant crops and keep everyone fed.

Much of the early game is focused on bringing up the population to reach milestones that unlock new gathering and crafting hubs, while stockpiling food and coal for the winter. Generally speaking the winters aren’t long or brutal here, and as long as you have a month of food saved you should be okay. Eventually you’ll be able to build condominiums and town houses, which attract the next level of Fablings, the Commoners, before you upgrade further and can attract Nobility to your city. This class progression takes the place of technological advancement, so you’ll eventually have a bustling, thriving fairytale city.

Fabledom review

To further reinforce this, you’re able to bring Heroes into your city who can command your armies and interact with points of interest on the map. A wandering cyclops might start scaring the townsfolk, for example, or you might buy up a nearby territory with an abandoned graveyard that needs investigating. Sometimes these points of interest will lead to combat, which is a very simple matter of both parties whacking each other until one runs out of HP. If you lose a hero, you can resurrect them at their tent for a sum of gold, which is by far the easiest resource to gather.

There are some pretty incredible encounters, too, with pesky gnomes, actual beanstalks (complete with Giants), and witches that will curse your townsfolk and turn them into starving skeletons if you don’t have the abilitiy to send them packing. Once you have a Messengers Guild you can explore beyond your own land, meeting the rulers of distant realms. Some will be hostile, others friendly, some amorous. Building relationships with them can lead to marriage, which unites your kingdoms, or war, which will necessitate you building an army and training your soldiers in the arena.

Alliances also lead to trade, which becomes a large part of Fabledom once you’ve expanded enough. It’s not always easy to come by the resources you need as fast as you need them, so being able to trade with other nations even as you woo their leaders is a great option. Fabledom is a very involving game in many respects, but can be pretty frustrating with it.

Fabledom review

For example, you need resources to construct buildings, and either the counters are inaccurate or it can just sometimes take days to produce one resource, with no way to really speed it up without assigning more peasants to it (though, this has strict limits). Likewise, you can prioritise structures to be built first, but even with the speed on full, I’d sit for ages watching my little Fablings wander around completely ignoring whatever needed building. The tooltip tells you to build roads as your people will move faster on them, but half the time I’d stare wide-eyed as they still opted to take the long way round for no reason whatsoever. It’s an AI issue, obviously, but it was also by far the most irritating aspect of Fabledom for me.

What compounds it is that you’ll often be issued challenges which are the only way to increase your Nobility, a special currency used to influence the outcome of certain events and hero encounters. Often these require you to build or produce a certain number of resources or buildings in a set time, and it’s annoying to watch the days tick down as your craftsmen simply produce nothing despite having access to everything they need. I lost a lot of resources and Nobility due to my peasants simply not doing what they were supposed to, and I found myself itching for a Dungeon Keeper-style slap mechanic to get them working.

Fabledom review

But this is my only real complaint. A lot of Fabledom works very, very well. Watching your city grow, expanding territory and advancing with a steady drip feed of new buildings and resources is super satisfying, and knowing you have a happy, busy populace is its own reward. It helps that it looks lovely, with a wonderful level of detail in the tiny buildings and the ability to zoom right down to street level and watch everyone go about their business. Each Fabling can be renamed if you’re so inclined, though there’s no age or death mechanic really – unless you choose to send your baker off to war, which is frankly just asking for an awkward conversation with their surviving family later on.

While the humour is very tame and a bit generic, it’s hard to deny Fabledom’s charm. It’s an incredibly likable game, easy to understand, and simple to get hooked on. The AI still needs work after a year in early access, but besides that it’s a very enjoyable, relaxing city builder that won’t demand much of you but time and patience.


Looks lovely
Easy to understand
Great progression


Some inconsistent AI
Can be a bit slow
Humour is a bit rote

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

It's hard to deny Fabledom's innate charm. It's an incredibly likable game, easy to understand and simple to get hooked on.