Viveport Review: Townsmen VR
This cute and addictive town-builder brings the genre to life in virtual reality like never before.
By Joshua Hawkins, Greenlit Content
I am a huge fan of town building simulators. I can’t even count the number of hours I've spent in these types of games, controlling the townspeople and building my cities from scratch, so I was very excited to strap on my headset and check out Townsmen VR. After spending some time as a virtual deity, I can tell you Townsmen VR successfully takes the fun of the town building genre and brings it to virtual reality, giving you an entirely new perspective on the way you might think about 'god games'.
That new perspective starts with a giant pair of floating hands; yours, in fact, hovering over an idyllic island in the middle of a sparkling blue ocean. VR really does make you a god in Townsmen VR, as you can literally lean down and peer at your tiny virtual subjects below, then pick them up between your fingers and place them where you will, ordering them to harvest resources, go to work or venture into battle.
That really describes Townsmen VR's gameplay loop, as you create more impressive buildings and manage your villagers, making sure they are constantly working to improve the island. Luckily that gameplay loop is uniquely engaging; one of my favorite things about Townsmen VR is how it gives you complete control, making you feel like a god. The controls are very intuitive, allowing you to move, 'grow' and 'shrink' with ease. In one moment you might have almost the entire island in your grasp, and the next you're the size of the people below. Getting used to that perspective change is key, as you'll go from the high-level strategic view down to the management of villager's tasks a lot. You can even lend a hand directly, by picking up resources and putting them where they need to be.
The level of interaction doesn't stop there either. Townsmen VR's island is packed with surprises, from realizing you can combine clouds into a dark storm, to finding out that blowing air (in real life!) will cause the windmill to spin. Of course, snatching up your townspeople and tossing them around the map never gets old. It’s a great feeling to simply pick up a villager and throw this virtual person into the world somewhere to do your bidding.
Finding the fun stuff and building up your island isn't all that Townsmen VR is about though, as you will have to worry about attackers coming to your island and trying to take down your village. This means you’ll need to learn how to build defenses like soldiers and catapults, and then train yourself to move those soldiers into battle, all the while keeping up with the supply of new soldiers.
This is where Townsmen VR starts to get hectic, since the fights that occur later in the game are much more intensive and require you to quickly move around the island. It's exciting stuff, and a great example of how VR can be totally immersive, but you might want to experience it in small doses. Personally, I found after a few hours that the intensity of the gameplay gave me a little bit of motion sickness, and I had to step away for a break.
That didn't stop me from coming back to Townsmen VR though. It just feels really good. I love zooming down to the streets or looking over the whole island, planning my town's layout in detail. If all future VR town building games could be this good, we could see some incredible experiences. SimCity VR, anyone?
For right now though, if you want a great town builder that gives you full god-like control, then Townsmen VR is a fantastic choice that's definitely worth your time.
Townsmen VR is available in Viveport Subscription.
Read our interview with Christopher Kassulke of HandyGames about TownsMen VR.