Written by - Codiak
Updated: June 23, 2023
Posted: April 11, 2023
Over the past few years, we’ve carved out a small niche as a channel that covers Indie city-builders. Truth be told it’s one of my favorite genres because it usually gives me the opportunity to slow down and enjoy something a bit more mellow. That’s why when I took one look at Fabledom I knew I had to check it out.
Truth be told there’s a lot you can tell about a game by the way it’s presented visually, and at first glance the charming, storybook vibes of Fabledom caught my attention. By no means did I think this game was going to be the in-depth micro-management city builder I’ve come to expect from other modern simulation games, but it’s that very accessibility that might propel Fabledom to success.
Fabledom is a single player city-builder set in a fairytale universe. The game is being built with accessibility in mind. Long story short, if you’re a casual fan of the genre and you want a casual, relaxing city-building experience this game is for you.
The game starts off by selecting a region on a randomly generated map. There is a bit of depth here as each region has slightly different properties and the fact that everything is set up as a new story from a fairytale really helps ground you in the fantasy world right off the bat. There are two game modes to choose from standard, which I imagine will be how you engage with the combat element of the game, once it’s developed, and then creative, where everything is free and build times don’t exist. Two options and very low stakes, which is a theme throughout the game.
Once you select your map it’s time to create a kingdom and what immediately struck me was just how easy it is to get up and running. It’s simple, let me be clear, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you consider that’s exactly what the developers were going for.
There’s a lot of familiar first steps in the game. First you place a laborer’s hut. Then you build some homesteads. Oh yeah, don’t forget your well.
It’s things we’ve come to expect from every single medieval city builder, and that trend continues as you start to build farms and fields filled with pumpkins, lumber camps to chop down trees; you get where I’m going here.
At almost every turn Fabledom is familiar, charming, and easy to play. At no point in my experience did I get tripped up or confused and the game’s helpful objectives system helped me stay focused on what I needed to accomplish to reach the next point in my progression.
What surprised me , on more than one occasion, were the small, subtle ways that Fabledom manages to carve out its own unique lane amongst the crowded city-building genre. Nothing groundbreaking, but charming none the less. For example, when you build a homestead, you can expand the plot to give each house a sort of backyard that can then be filled with smaller functional things like a beehive or dog house. You don’t really notice it from afar, but if you take the time to zoom in the charm factor multiplies substantially.
Fabledom is also clearly laying the foundation for relationships and romance, and while there are only a few princes and princesses you can interact with at this point in early access it’s yet another system that simple, easy to interact with, and adds charm to the entire Fabledom presentation.
There is one system that did intrigue me, and it’s the way Fabledom creates different tiers between the various peons that build, craft, and live within the world. Once the game is fully released there will be three tiers of peons and each, by the looks of things, will have their own unique housing. I didn’t have full access to everything ahead of the early access launch, but what I did get to check out was the commoner’s house, condominiums. Essentially, you’re creating an apartment complex for your commoners and it’s a fun idea that really caught me off guard. Within your complex you can add shops, that you can then staff and those act as way stations for specific resources that you might otherwise store further away. It’s all interconnected by a condominium foundation allowing you to create a rather large set of buildings. Exploring this system was truly a surprise, and while still not overly complex it was something I definitely wasn’t expecting.
Fabledom’s biggest strength is also it’s weakness; simplicity. Because the game is launching into early access it’s incomplete, and about halfway through developing my city I was met with a myriad of “thing coming later” pop-ups. That’s not a knock on the game, it’s an early access title after all, this is to be expected. I actually appreciate the developers putting placeholders in the game so I know what’s coming, but if I were being honest with you, which is always my goal, there’s not enough to keep me hooked in its current state.
Sadly, I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot about early access indie games as of late. There’s potential, but only after more content is added and the gameplay loop is better established.
As someone that’s played their fair share of city-builders over the past 20 years I also noticed a lack of certain quality of life things that, in my opinion, should really be standard in the genre. Small things like the ability to relocate buildings or upgrade streets from dirt to cobblestone are just small misses that leave me wanting just a touch more. Luckily all things that can be ironed out in early access.
What really left me feeling high and dry was the ability to build a hero’s tent, summon a hero, and then, nothing. I literally could move them around the map, have them go claim some ruins, which takes all of 2 seconds, and then just sit around. There are elements of Fabledom I’m curious to learn more about such as the expansion of their economy and implementation of a trade system, as well as all of the military and combat systems showcased on their website, and the associated buildings in the game. There’s a lot more brewing underneath the surface of Fabledom, but it’s not there yet.
That being said, in my few hours with the game I didn’t crash, run into any broken systems, glitches, or bugs. The game that’s there plays well and while the content might not be complete, at least the gameplay experience is smooth.
If you were to catch me on the street and ask for my quick impressions of the game after a half-dozen hours I’d say, Fabledom is a charming casual city-builder that prides itself on being accessible and whimsical wherever possible. It’s easy to build up your kingdom in just a few hours, and while the game isn’t complete there’s enough there to keep you interested, especially if you consider yourself a more casual gamer.
Fabledom won’t pressure you to learn a million subtle system, doesn’t try and be more than it is, and ultimately is a fun game, created by a studio of just two developers and if that’s something you can get behind then absolutely go support the team creating the game.