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Fabledom Review

Fabledom Review

City builders are typically games I want to really love but struggle to do so thanks to a million different tiny issues. Fabledom initially looked to me like it could fix so many of these problems, but does it at least stick the landing, or is it nothing more than a fairytale?

Fabledom doesn’t stray too far from its inspiration, but it adds enough unique quirks to comfortably stand out. As stated previously, it’s a city builder, similar to the Anno or The Settlers’ franchises, except with a heavy leaning into a fairytale-inspired world. This might give you the idea that it’s trying to be a more casual and cosy city builder, as it did me, but don’t let the visuals fool you: Fabledom regularly falls into the micromanagement pit that city builders often do, to its detriment.

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The game starts out with you naming and claiming a location for your new kingdom from randomly generated world maps. These have a variety of features, such as Hills, which have different resources and make it harder to build. There are a few things to pay attention to, but the game’s strongest suit is its innate simplicity, which is rare within the genre. The resources and location attributes are easy to understand, and you can avoid locations with fewer resources or decide to play in those locations for more of a challenge. Once your location is chosen, your kingdom is named, and you’ve made your coat of arms, you’ll be dropped into the game proper.

Mechanically, it’s a few simple tasks to get you up and running: build some homes, a labourers camp, and some basic resource-gathering buildings, and you have yourself a relatively sustainable village. The starter resources you have are more than enough to become self-sustaining, but here is where you’ll need to start to think and begin actively planning your next steps. As time passes throughout the game, you’ll begin receiving more and more villagers, who require their own homes and jobs, and you’ll also progress through the seasons, which each have their own incredibly charming visuals. Building these homesteads and certain other buildings has modular attachments, allowing you to alter parts of them, which helps balance the beauty and desirability of parts of your city, making your villagers happier in the long run. This is absolutely one of its best features, as it stops each homestead from looking precisely the same, which is a trap many city builders fall into.

Once you reach a certain size, you’ll need to purchase additional territory in the surrounding areas to allow yourself to build more while also finding interesting structures and items within these territories. This is a very basic decision; I found myself typically just building into the direction with the most needed resource or just whatever looked the nicest, but there are some interesting things hidden around, such as Ruins or some of the fairy tale-related structures. It’s pretty basic, and the game is incredibly generous with money on its base difficulty throughout the first few hours so expansion isn’t ever much of a concern.

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Fabledom has a Nobility system, which acts as a currency, often relating to how you interact with random events and other rulers (which I’ll touch more on shortly), which helps to make the world feel more in-depth and makes for some interesting if relatively binary, choices. The other rulers take control over the other locations on the world map. They each like a specific resource, and giving them said resources will increase their opinion of you. I do like that this allows you to entirely avoid conflict for the most part if managed well (along with a creative mode allowing you to build whatever you’d like with no costs or resource restrictions), yet it feels somewhat underbaked. I wish I had stronger feelings, but few of them felt interesting, and the mechanics surrounding them were a little uninteresting in practice. As previously stated, you can enter conflicts with other people, and the combat is also a perfectly fine system, but it was something I barely engaged with, opting for the non-aggressive options where possible.

One of your best units for combat is your Hero, a special unit that can engage in combat and also explore certain structures found in the world, such as the Ruins mentioned previously. This fits incredibly well in the fairytale setting; every story needs its protagonist, after all. The fairytale setting it employs is absolutely its best trait, perfectly embracing the whimsy of the setting and connecting it with the gameplay, too. For example, I was given the option to buy some food for my villagers or some magic beans. Of course, I went for the beans, and slowly, a giant beanstalk grew, which my Hero was able to climb.

Overall, Fabledom is a very solid addition to the city builder genre. It falls short in a few areas, being a little mechanically simple, despite struggling with micromanagement issues later on. Its setting is utterly fantastic, and this helps with one of the biggest issues I have with city builders: visual variety.

8.00/10 8

Fabledom (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Fabledom is a great city builder, adding some much needed variety into the genre. It does have its flaws, but none are even close to being game-ruining.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Jacob Sanderson

Jacob Sanderson

Staff Writer

It's not an obsession if it counts as work...

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