Hands-On: Townsmen VR Is Like A More Whimsical Black & White

by David Jagneaux • February 2nd, 2018

Black & White was a landmark PC game series in the early 2000s from Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios that helped evolve the classic “God game” genre in many ways with its innovative AI. We’ve discussed many applications of this genre in VR over recent years and seen games like O! My Genesis, Tethered, and even other upcoming titles like The Ancients, dabble with the idea. Now Townsmen VR from Handy Games is the latest such game and it could be the genres most promising title thus far.

In Townsmen VR you take on the role of a floating, magical God-like being in the sky that’s tasked with watching over a small village of people. However, in typical God-game fashion, your denizens are mostly stupid and incapable of taking care of themselves so you’ve got to tell them what to do while providing for them.

Even though it’s in Early Access it’s already got a lot of features. You can assign jobs to your villagers like collecting resources and building things, place structures around the town, protect them from natural disasters, and get them food.

In a lot of typical God games, or even just normal strategy games, one of the most frustrating things is when you have to just stand there and helplessly watch workers take forever and a day to get anything done, but in Townsmen VR you can just lean down and pick them up to speed up the process. Leaning down to look at my little citizens was delightful and really made me feel like an all-powerful being that ruled over this small slice of earth.

To move around the map you basically drag yourself across, which felt a bit like celestial crawling in practice. You’ll also have to train up soldiers, build catapults, and fight off encroaching Black Knights that aim to raid and pillage your idyllic oasis.

The music is appropriate, sound effects are cute, and the voice acting is pretty solid. There’s even a relatively thorough tutorial already. Handy Games claims they intend to leave the game in Early Access for a full year, but it feels more complete than most other Early Access games already.

Primarily they want feedback from the community to help determine the next course of action. The main goals will be to “increase the number of playable islands, expand on the economy (more buildings, jobs, resources) and in general add to the depth of the game.”

Townsmen VR is slated for a February 2018 Early Access release (yes, this month) with support for both Rift and Vive.

Check out the Steam page for more details and let us know how you think it sounds down in the comments below!

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