Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
When you venture out into the world of a role-playing game, odds are you’ll come across a few towns. They’ll sell weapons, or offer beds in which you can recuperate. Sometimes the local citizens will throw parades in your honor. And to the credit of game designers, no two towns are ever the same. Traditions and armor selection vary like snowflakes cast from your wizard’s staff.
Developed by the makers of addictive iPhone simulations like Game Dev Story and Mega Mall Story, Dungeon Village grants you a bigger-picture view of fantasy-game urban development. It casts you as the city planner, not as the adventurers themselves. Like Farmville or Tiny Tower, you build up a town worthy of attracting swashbucklers and wanderers. There are inns and bakeries to build, empty houses to fill with heroes, and monk’s robes to gift said heroes so they stick around. Occasionally, quests will pop up, like clearing out a cave full of monsters, and you sit back and watch as bunnies are slain by your intrepid heroes of choice. And if there’s a parade at the end, it’s only because you threw it.
Dungeon Village feels less thrilling at first, since you’re doing all the work only to watch some hero named John Dungeon can get all the credit. But as the selection of buildings and weapons expands, the game’s SimCity roots begin to show. Before long, you’re sending grunts out on missions while you stay home and watch your town grow around you—which wouldn’t be possible if you were merely the hero of the tale.