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Heroes That Meander: Towns

I spent most of last night and this morning punching things so hard that their skin had no option but to fall off. Most of the time I don't actually want to play the murderous hero though, even when that hero is a monk who thinks the path to holiness is a fist-inflicted form of trepanning. Sure, that guy's got chutzpah, but I'd rather be watching him go about his business, perhaps tactically teasing the best out of him instead of steering him around in a more hands-on fashion. If you like the idea of visiting Tristram but don't have an internet permanently plugged into your face, or simply don't care for Diablo III, it'd be a fine idea to play Towns instead.

Now at release version 0.46, Town is an indie strategy game with a dungeon full of monsters, a landscape waiting to be tamed and heroes who like nothing more than to drink all your booze and then stumble around slaying beasties. As with Majesty, you have no direct control over the visiting plunderers and there's some of Dwarf Fortress here as well, with townies following simple lives of their own, pursuing tasks as they're set. The Diablo comparison is based purely on the fact that there's a town inexplicably built on top of a horrible monster-hole. If Towns was set in modern times I would call it a Sunnydale Simulator.

Building a few log cabins isn't as complicated as carving out a cave network with functioning farms, aqueducts and mechanically devious doomsday devices capable of smothering the world in magma, but there's a great deal more to do than there was when I first took a look. Apart from the massive addition of the heroes, which provides an entirely new set of possible goals and experiences, there are more supply and crafting chains.

There's a demo available and paying £7.99 provides access to the alpha and all future versions. It's the hero system that seems to be the focus of attention at the moment, with special skills and the ability to level up being given to the various classes of loot-loving blighter in the most recent update. I feared that more features might mean a less friendly user interface but the game remains welcoming, or at least relatively welcoming. I'd still advise watching some tutorial videos and can highly recommend this extensive series, brought to my attention by the creator himself in a previous comments thread.

I keep promising to build a town of my own and scrawl down a chronicle of its dismal history of siege and invasion. I'll find the time soon hopefully. In the meantime, it's fantastic to see that development is continuing at such a rapid pace and without the game deviating from its original concept. I feared feature creep but so far it's been more a case of greeting the features at the door, having them take off their shoes and then introducing them to the rest of the guests before they start lounging around like they own the place.

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