Indie Spotlight: Towns

Towns game.

If I had to choose just one contribution to gaming for which I could thank Notch and the team at Mojang, it would be the popularization of early alpha for indie games. While Minecraft’s level of success remains unique, developers have noticed that early alpha access to their games can build plenty of hype to carry the game through to release. I’ve been digging around in the indie scene for a while now, so I thought it might be cool to throw a spotlight on some of the interesting games that are out there.

Today’s Indie Spotlight falls on a game called Towns. The game is being developed by a small indie group known as SMP. By the way, good luck searching for anything related to this game for the next couple months. Being that Minecraft multiplayer, a system in which players often create their own towns, is called SMP, you’re going to get mostly Minecraft-related results. I’ll save you some trouble and just point you to their official website.

The game is basically an RTS with a slight Dwarf Fortress influence. You play from an isometric view, controlling a group of villagers to gather resources in order to support your spelunking efforts. The game is built on levels that increase in difficulty as you descend. There is a tiered crafting system whereby you can make armors and weapons to keep yourself safe, food to keep your village sated, and housing, to keep everyone happy.

This game is in alpha, so some of the mechanics are a little buggy or just haven’t been implemented. There is no priority system for tasks, so it’s possible to “hunger lock” yourself, meaning your villagers are too hungry to even make more food. You can then watch them all starve to death, but it’s probably better to start over. The game also features some terribly obnoxious music, though it is possible to toggle off.

There is a lot of good in Towns, too. In a lot of ways, Towns reminded me what the “game” part of Minecraft is missing, which is essentially something to do with the mountains of resources you gather over the course of a game. Exploring is definitely fun, but once you’ve seen your fourth or fifth epic cave, you’ve seen them all. Towns puts your resources to use, even if it is a bit grindy.

In future updates, SMP has plans to add a hero system. My guess is that your town’s resources will now be dedicated to decking out the hero and letting him crawl through some dungeons. It seems like a great idea that, when coupled with a solid crafting system and the hilarity of mass-butchering cows, makes this quirky little game a great buy for under $20 at retail.

If you’re interested in town management sims or even games like Terraria, I would highly recommend giving Towns a shot. The game has a demo that allows you to experience 20 in-game days, which is plenty to get your feet wet. You can also purchase the alpha version of the game for roughly $13. Alpha purchasers have unrestricted access to the latest builds of the game.


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