“…Dorfromantik is well balanced for players of any inclination, ability level and indeed those in any particular mood…”
Dorfromantik is a beautiful, relaxing and challenging tile-based city builder from the creative minds at Toukana Interactive. This small group of game design students based in Berlin have perfectly crafted (and continue to build!) a single player Carcassonne-like tabletop tile placement game which focusses on a calming atmosphere, stunning visuals and objective-based strategy. There are no time limits or barriers to play Dorfromantik, with immersion and creativity notably deemed as important to the players’ enjoyment as scores and little victories.
I found myself coming back to Dorfromantik over and over again after I first tried the game. At first I came to satisfy my interest in what looked like a very pretty emulation of a tabletop-styled game. After my first few games, I stayed for the challenge of beating my own high score and unlocking new tiles for my game by completing simple but challenging objectives. A few days later, I returned purely for the satisfaction of uncomplicated city building and a beautiful end result every time. Whether your passion is the challenge or the creativity of design, Dorfromantik is well balanced for players of any inclination, ability level and indeed those in any particular mood when they hop on to play. I found the game to be as relaxing or tough as I needed it to be every time I approached it to play again. Much of this is thanks to the simplicity and openness of play.
The player-facing systems and mechanics of Dorfromantik are delightfully simple. At the beginning of the game there is a single hex tile placed on the screen (or board), with a stack of tiles ready for you to place yourself. You can see the top few tiles in the stack to help you vaguely plan your strategy, and can place these simply by dragging them into an empty, adjacent space on the field of play. For the most part, any tiles can be placed anywhere, but there are adjancecy point bonuses for placing like-edges next to each other. Growing expansive forests, cities or fields, for example, is key to both attaining a higher score but also for completing objectives. The exceptions to the tile placement rules are railways and rivers, which can only be placed connecting to another rail or river, or a station or lake tile respectively.
As you play the game, little speech bubbles will appear above certain tiles offering objectives to aspire to. These will generally be in the form of constructing a field, village, forest, river or rail of a specific size, and achieving these objectives awards you with more tiles for your stack. If your aspiration is to conquer your high score, then, the objectives are critical to your success. The player is by no means punished for ingoring these objectives, though, and sometimes doing so is necessary to your strategies even in a competitive sense of play. Tough decisions can sometimes mean sacrificing one objective to complete another. Despite its tranquillity, Dorfromantik is certainly not without its tests of tactics.
Replayability is incontestable when it comes to Dorfromantik. The model of play, along with the atmosphere, are addictive and delectable, but for those players looking for progression in the game there is certainly some available. A trio of tough objectives are always present in the game for you to attempt if you feel the inclination. Completing these more testing challenges will generally merit new tiles for your game, but are certainly less passive than Dorfromantik’s other elements. For those players looking to up the ante of achievements these will certainly satisfy your cravings. Again, though, more passive players can happily ignore these objectives should they wish to simply play for satisfaction.
Whichever way you choose to play Dorfromantik, be it for points or perfect village-scapes, the end result of a game is consistently beautiful and unique, which gives the game a lot of its charm. The hand-drawn, bright coloured art style, combined with an equally enchanting and well-fitting soundtrack, ensure that you are at peace and immersed in the simple yet magnificent game world as you play. Truly, the only disappointment I experienced was when the tile stack ran out and my games finally had to end. More often than not, though, I would jump into a second, third, fourth and beyond just to sustain the escapism which Dorfromantik offers. It is perhaps one of the leisureliest games I have ever played, and yet one of the most satisfying as well. Truly, the student team at Toukana Interactive have demonstrated their acumen for design and implementation, and should celebrate their well-earned “Overwhelmingly Positive” status for their debut title.
You can purchase Dorfromantik on steam right here for £7.99.
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