Townsmen VR Review (PSVR2) – Lead a colony of teeny tiny folk to growth and glory in this VR sim title. Find out if this VR version of Townsmen is victorious in PlayStation Universe’s Townsmen VR PSVR2 review.
Townsmen VR Review (PSVR2) – A Model Sim Endears With Tactile Charm
As I discovered with Cities VR, city-building types can gain something new and exciting in the transition to virtual reality. For a game like Townsmen, there’s an extra layer because you’re less city planner and more of an interfering God.
Tasked with leading a small community from ruin at sea to a thriving colony, you lurk over your people with heavy gauntlets on hands that hover menacingly above their tiny heads. The objective is to help and nurture these groups, but Townsmen VR also allows for a bit of Godly malevolence. What’s a sim without it?
To begin with, you’re coaxed through a few basic interactions and allowed to get a grip on the control system. The controls are a strange thing to get on with. The exquisite nuances of VR control on PS VR2 often seem to come with such problems, but despite fundamentally holding the same buttons in your hands as a DualSense has.
Yet VR adds contexts that discombobulate with the additional freedoms that brings.
You have to drag yourself forward by physically performing a crawling motion with your arms, and it’s part of a rather disorientating toolset of player movement that takes some getting used to. Even the simple act of zooming in feels alien at first. The tutorial is one you really should pay attention to.
Personally, I think you should repeat each action several times over early on to get the hang of everything quicker. Otherwise, things may get fiddly and frustrating later.
Getting Hands On
As is the norm for PSVR 2 titles, Townsmen VR is a pretty tactile game. You can actually prod, pick, and grab at the little people, animals, and environment with your in-game hands. Whilst the paint is still relatively fresh on the medium of VR, it’s a joy to just pick up something and physically bring it closer to you and see it close up.
Or indeed just reaching out to something and seeing what happens when you touch it. The evolution PSVR 2’s controllers bring to console VR makes these little moments special. It’s a feeling I really want to keep a hold of before time and experience whittle it away.
When problems come calling, you can lend a gentle hand. Pick a cloud out of the sky and make it shock enemy troops with lightning. Throw a few logs at a build, or pluck townsfolk from their day-to-day lives to assign them a specific job.
Setting up for battles is handled in a sleek precise fashion, and watching the scuffles is an entertaining aspect of the game. In its best light, Townsmen VR is like standing in front of a playset and tinkering with the individual parts to tell little stories.
The pace of Townsmen VR is quite sedate, especially in the opening run of tutorials, so there’s plenty of time to get used to the way it plays. Even when it does ramp up, its lumbering player movement doesn’t cause too much fuss.
It’s just a touch annoying though.
The visual style of Townsmen VR is reminiscent of a model village, and the people and creatures have that painted plastic look to them, albeit a lot more animated. It adds a delightfully twee feeling when you pick one of them up and bring them close to your face. It’s almost like having physical evidence Toy Story was a documentary.
Realistic visuals are nice and everything, but something as simple and wondrous as that feeling gives plenty of weight to the opinion that a good art style will do wonders realism cannot dream of.
The boldness of these visuals means you can easily spot an issue that needs addressing; a necessity in this sort of game, and once you know the ins and outs of controls, sorting things out is fairly quick.
I’m glad that Townsmen VR gets a bit busier as it goes on because downtime can feel so laborious. It’s nice to watch the townsfolk go about their business at first, but they don’t do a whole lot outside a limited set of routines, so it’s a wait for the next landmark moment or fiddle about to keep busy.
VR is the perfect tonic for this at least because fiddling about with a tactile toolset does give it a bit more involvement than you’d normally get in this situation.
Townsmen VR is probably more personal than Cities VR, and has granular interactivity that keeps things fun during lulls, but it’s a fairly simplistic city builder by comparison. It’s the one you’d likely have better luck introducing to VR newcomers though.
Townsmen VR is now available on PS5 and PSVR2.
Review code generously provided by publisher.