I feel like for the past 12 months I have done nothing but play city-builders. They’re everywhere on Steam right now, but to its credit Fabledom isn’t really a city-builder. It’s more of a big town.
A game set in a fantasy medieval countryside, Fabledom is looking very closely over the shoulder of Ubisoft’s classic (and sadly long-neglected) Settlers series, basing itself around the idea of building a small town, luring peasants to its verdant fields then putting them to work generating an economy (or, occasionally, dying in battle).
Where it’s trying something else out, though, is in a layer of fantasy/character stuff spread thinly over the top. Fabledom has your kingdom existing as one of many in a randomly-generated landscape, and you’re able to develop relationships—through the completion of specific missions—with these competing rulers, from being mates right up to becoming romantically entwined.
The whole thing is sickeningly cute. The fairytale landscape is cute, the little peasants are cute, their little farms are cute; the longer I stared at the screen the more my teeth hurt from just how sweet everything was. Never mind that some of these poor souls are spending their entire lives shovelling coal or breaking their backs picking vegetables, they all look like they’re having fun while doing it, and that’s enough for me to feel good about it as well.
I also really dig the customisation aspects of the game, which let you not just place buildings, but their yards and surrounding countryside as well. When building a house, for example, you’re placing the building and its fences, dragging them out to determine the size of the yard, and can then choose from smaller structures like clotheslines and beehives to sit inside that boundary. It adds a wonderful little Sims-like element to the game that makes building your town a more customisable and personal experience.
While I haven’t been able to try out all the strategic-level stuff available in the game, either because I haven’t got that far or because a feature is locked (as in, it hasn’t been developed yet), it seems very much an “icing on the cake” kind of situation. The bulk of the experience here is the town-building and management, and of all the games like this I’ve played over the last few months, this is already one of the best.
Fabledom is out in Early Access on Steam now.