Review: Adventure Town
Start with a small town, build it up, and use a motley band of so-called heroes to defend it from the colourful cartoon hordes that surround it in the countryside. This is Adventure Town, and it starts with the standard mix of RPG and freemium, and adds in some very colourful graphics. That's enough to make the game work well, but the financial balance of the title is a little bit off.
Version Reviewed: 0.3.23.0
Adventure Town is not going to break any new ground in game design. As the game opens on your small town, you have two 'heroes' who you can set out to defend the citizens - you'll get to start out with a pre-determined fight against a Dragon to get the hang of the UI. After that they can roam around the countryside to find more enemies to fight. You'll want to do this as the spoils of combat can be added to your coffers for spending at a later date.
Back in the town, you can use the gold coin currency to buy and plant crops (which, after a time, can be harvested and sold for more gold), collect the products from the various buildings in the town (such as the bakery and butcher), and use these to craft new tools and items.
Keeping your heroes equipped with the best possible armour, clothing, and weapons, is key to long-term success in Adventure Town. As well as making a monetary contribution to gain these new items, you also need to have the raw materials - for example a wooden shield will need some wood. As you progress in the game and 'level up' you will have more items available for you to craft, and these later items will need more materials to craft them from, more gold to make, and generally drain your inventory of the goods you have 'randomly' found as you kill the roaming monsters and pick up supplies from the hops in the town.
Because of the random nature of items picked up in combat, you'll be tempted to use some of the red rubies to buy the items you need. I'm not sure if this is a good idea, but because of the length of time it takes to collect the items, this expensive shortcut will always be tempting.
Combat is a relatively simple affair. Tap on the creature you wish to attach, select the heroes at your disposal, and set them on their way. Combat is an automatic 'turn-about' style and all you can do is watch the outcome on-screen. Certain weapons are more suited to attacking specific creatures than others, so you'll want to learn what works and what doesn't, which allows you to mix and match the heroes that you call on.
As you play through the game, you can unlock more heroes to hire, much as you can craft new weapons. Heroes will want their rewards when they fight, so asking them to attack will cost you gold. And once they fight they'll be looking for a tavern to recover.
Adventure Town has spent a lot of time on the graphics, and the 'cute' design with lots of solid blocks of colour works very well. Working equally well on the larger screened Windows Phone devices with the spot colour, and the smaller screens pick up the good definition, everything is clear to understand. It's easy to scroll the screen around with a swipe, and pinch to zoom to get closer look, although I was pleasantly surprised to find that I rarely needed to zoom in to understand what was going on. The designers certainly earned their gold for this title.
Everything in Adventure Town costs gold, and everything is expensive. Once you get into the later levels, the cost to re-equip your heroes can be very high. You're going to need a lot of the in-game currency to return them to their full fighting ability. If you start sending them into battle over too short a period you're going to run out of your surplus and your choice will be to wait until your town generates more money, or to open your wallet and buy more of the in-game currency through the Windows Phone store.
Adventure Town lends itself to short bursts of playing. In that way, you're going to skip over many of the issues of the currency and timing, but it means you never really build up the momentum required to get into the game. Just as I started to find a rhythm of seeking out monsters to fight, mining the town's resources, and planting more crops, it would all have to come to a screeching halt because the in-game money had run out.
Typically this would be gold coins, but you can't buy them directly. You can buy red ruby jewels with cash (20 for £1.49 is the basic payment), and then trade the rubies for gold (3000 coins for 15 rubies). It's a typical freemium strategy to put an intermediate layer between your goal and your real world currency, but having two steps in Adventure Town seems a little bit... underhand. Couple that with the voracious demand for gold coins, and for all the cute graphics and clear playing style, something doesn't sit right with me about Adventure Town.
This is very much a game that is just the wrong side of acceptable in the freemium debate. It asks for too much time and effort, and in return it doesn't offer you a worthwhile return on your investment. It looks wonderful, there's nice resource/combat game under here, but the developers have been a little too greedy for me.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at