Ever thought to yourself, ‘I wonder what it would be like to live in a medieval village in a fantasy setting’? Well, A Township Tale lets you find out, with the multiplayer virtual reality adventure putting groups of up to eight players together and letting them thrive in a town that they can expand upon through crafting and resource gathering. Players will create their character, learn the basics of the game in the tutorial, and then set out to explore the world around them, with player freedom key to the experience.
It makes for a fun time too, especially when playing with a full team of players and embracing the game’s crafting and resource gathering mechanics together. However, some poor tutorials, clumsy mechanics, and a lack of long-term content do hold the experience back a little right now, even IF it is great to play with friends.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
The core experience of A Township Tale is based around settling within an abandoned town that you’ve discovered, with players uncovering all sorts of tools in order to craft new items. There’s no magic way of crafting items here – players have to manually do everything, from chopping down trees with an axe, mining ore in caverns, to mixing items within the likes of a smelter or furnace.
This was evident from the get-go with the basic backpack I made, which required me to find sticks and grass, and then piece the shape of the backpack together manually. Need to hit some nails in? Better make a hammer by combining a stick and a rock together and do some whacking. Don’t hit the nail properly? Expect it to bend out of place. It’s almost like manual labour, with just about everything you do in the game requiring some thought and physical effort from the player.
Whilst that may be off-putting to some, I found it to be a neat idea that put an emphasis on making an effort. It is a big and abandoned area that players discover after all, and with no NPCs to do jobs for you, it’s time to get to work. There are a ton of different roles to take on and an abundance of recipes to learn, with the game’s sense of progression built around crafting new and improved items. It helps strengthen the medieval setting of the game, with the sense of discovery that comes with crafting new items or discovering new materials certainly proving rewarding throughout. Players will level up their capabilities too, with new skills unlocked to make crafting easier.
“It’s almost like manual labour, with just about everything you do in the game requiring some thought and physical effort from the player.”
There are also enemies to dispatch of across the game, but the combat system isn’t particularly fleshed out. The weapons you find are easy to use, whether it’s when aiming a bow or swinging a sword, whilst the enemies you face off against aren’t particularly imposing. It just didn’t feel like an overly responsive system, but instead something that was tacked on to provide more challenge. There’s definitely potential for it to be expanded upon greatly in the future, especially with the sheer variety of creative weapons players can craft, but for now I didn’t find combat exciting – especially when compared to similar releases in virtual reality.
A Township Tale’s blend of gathering, crafting, and combat can have its ups-and-downs, but there’s no doubting that its social dynamic is absolutely outstanding. Up to seven other players can join you on a server, with each player able to communicate with one-another provided they’re standing nearby. From my experience, almost EVERYONE is willing to invest themselves in the adventure with you, whether that’s by working on different roles, crafting specific materials, or simply offering a helping hand when taking down enemies. Teamwork really does make the dream work in A Township Tale, so playing with others is as important as it is fun.
“Whilst it’s definitely worth exploring some public servers to meet new players and learn more about the game, it is possible to set one up just for yourself and a group of friends if you prefer.”
It was so rewarding playing with other players and I really don’t think I’d have managed to progress as much as I have without the help of strangers (who have now become my friends on my Oculus Quest, might I add). One of the core ideas behind the game is to build up a town and for everyone to take on their own roles within it, and you know what? It REALLY works. I’ve been left excited to jump back into our server and play with these players that I’ve met in order to push on forward with our town.
It is worth noting that the Oculus Quest version of the game allows you to create your own server too, which can either be public or private. Whilst it’s definitely worth exploring some public servers to meet new players and learn more about the game, it is possible to set one up just for yourself and a group of friends if you prefer. I’d never recommend playing A Township Tale solo, but you don’t have to play with others if you don’t want to.
“Teamwork really does make the dream work in A Township Tale, so playing with others is as important as it is fun.”
For all the strengths of the game and its stellar social aspects, there are some areas in which A Township Tale doesn’t really deliver. For one, it’s not very good at explaining things in-game. Whilst there’s a tutorial that goes over the basics, it omits a lot of vital information. I was lucky that there was another player in the tutorial willing to help me, otherwise I’d have no idea how to grab rocks from the ground, where to find food, or how to perform basic crafting. Heck, I’d have no idea I could gather multiple resources at once by using a pouch if I didn’t see a video explaining it on YouTube, which just emphasises the fact that the game doesn’t give enough information to the player.
In fairness, the game does encourage players to experiment, especially with the recipe books scattered around the town that gives you a basic idea of what you need to do. Still, I would have appreciated a little bit more hand-holding, if only to get to grips with the core mechanics of the game.
The controls are also guilty of being a bit fiddly. It took me AGES before I was able to learn how to hit a nail properly, whilst some of my axe swings on trees or trying to accurately pick up items from the ground could be very clumsy. It’s something players will get used to the more they play, but it’s never easy. At least there are multiple control options in place for players though, with free movement and teleportation available depending on what’s most comfortable for you. I wouldn’t recommend playing when sitting though – not only is A Township Tale heavy on player movement, but you’ll find it awkward interacting with some items.
“Whilst I have no doubt that plenty of fresh content will come to A Township Tale, I’ve put over ten hours in so far and feel like I’ve seen most of what it really has to offer.”
Despite these issues, I still had a good time playing. The sense of progress that comes from learning the different mechanics of the game and improving my crafting skillet is mighty satisfying, whilst the friendships I’ve made when playing have been lovely. My only worry is that there’s not a whole lot to work towards right now. Whilst I have no doubt that plenty of fresh content will come to A Township Tale, I’ve put over ten hours in so far and feel like I’ve seen most of what it really has to offer. My main incentive to keep returning to it right now is for the social aspects as opposed to being excited to do more in-game. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially since the game pushes the social aspect heavily, but I am looking forward to seeing new elements introduced to the gameplay to make for a grander sense of adventure.
I’ve loved playing through A Township Tale with friends, but the game is lacking that sense of adventure to keep me coming back for more. Don’t get me wrong, crafting and gathering is fun, whilst learning more about the world and uncovering each area around me has been satisfying too. I just feel like I’ve already seen most of what the game has to offer already, with no real big adventure in place to build up to right now.
It’s guilty of being obtuse when it comes to explaining its mechanics too, whilst some clumsy controls might put some players off during the early hours. I’d implore you to stick with it though – if only to enjoy the experience with friends. Just maybe check out a few tutorials on YouTube before playing…
Platform(s): Oculus Quest (Reviewed)