In the past, the closest we’ve gotten to a medieval city-builder on Facebook has been the Facebook Connect enabled Evony and the equally complicated Kingdoms of Camelot. Of course, while there were city-building elements, the games were more oriented around strategy and conquest and not so much the sole prospect of constructing a thriving city. Well, a newer Facebook app called Castle & Co. – surprisingly from Ubisoft – appears to be filling that empty void with a perspective of medieval times that is certainly far from typical.
Filling the empty void, in terms of theme, because there are many other city building games on Facebook already.
Essentially, players are tasked with the construction of a happy and flourishing kingdom under their rule. It’s actually an extremely simple game: Players construct different workshops and their citizens automatically begin working – farming, chopping wood, collecting apples, etc. Initially, each structure will only produce one citizen but as you upgrade them (done by a magic fairy who apparently charges a pretty penny) more will begin to scurry about.
Everything is done in real time. Citizens wander a short distance from their home, do a little work (represented by a simple, yet believable animation) and return home to drop off their goods. Each trip earns one coin, and they will continue to do so until the maximum number of coins the workshop can hold is reached. Once capacity is full, then the user can collect income.
What makes everything go faster though is keeping your citizens happy. This is actually where décor comes into play, as depending on the citizen, they will like different things. As an example, a collector from your apple grove will like wood and fruits, thus placing decorations such as an apple tree will make them more happy.
This is where another level of cute comes into play. Beyond just placing decorum that satisfies one or more requirements, you can manually cheer up each non-player character by literally cheering them. When you click on an NPC, you can see just how happy they are, and clicking “Cheer” will have them let forth an overly cute yelp of joy and fill happiness back up to full.
Though it is not entirely clear, even when you place decorations that the NPCs like nearby, and their happiness increases, it still will decay over time (they are working after all). However, we’re running under the assumption that the more décor you have, the slower that decay will become.
In the complaint department, the biggest issue feels like there is not a whole lot to do. There’s only two types of things to build in Castle & Co: Workshops and decorations. Players don’t have to worry about leisure, or required systems, or anything beyond work and some trees. Part of the fun of these games is building out that balance of everything that is fun versus what is needed. It’s what made SimCity so addictive. That said, however, considering its medieval, fairy tale’ish aesthetic, Castle & Co. does not feel like a game tailored for your average SimCity player anyway. Even though it is still fun for older demographics, it feels more centrally targeted at a younger audience.
If that is indeed the case, then this Facebook app is actually pretty well rounded, with the only qualm being a relatively low number of objects the player can build. Nevertheless, as with any Facebook virtual space, that will almost certainly grow with time. Already, the game has been making minor improvements here and there, and earns around 177,000 monthly active users. That in mind, if you like simple games with a good amount of super cute style, then here’s an app worth a look.
[Shortly after we published this review, we discovered that this little gem actually from Ubisoft.]