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Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 4/13/2023 for PC  
More On: Fabledom

I like simulation, city building, be-the-ruler-of-a-kingdom type of games. Games where I can create areas how I see fit. A game that lets me put a coal mine right next to a bakery because I’m the ruler and that’s what I want. A game where you can interact with the neighboring territories, and eventually marry a far off prince or princess. Fabledom wants to be all those things while still having a relaxing gameplay experience. The title is in Early Access so I wasn’t able to get the full scope of the eventual completed product, but I was able to grab a meaty handful, and I can say it hits most of its marks with ease, including being a little too relaxing.

Your parents, the king and queen of some land never mentioned again, have sent you off to claim your own land and establish your own kingdom. You begin with only a pair of peasants, and from there the growing begins. You need to construct a labor hut, housing, roads and basic food production quickly or no one else will be enticed to join your fledgling kingdom. The days go by quickly at the start; you’re turning nothing into something, and since you start with nothing you have a lot of work to do.

Fabledom does a great job of showing you the ropes. I never once felt confused or had an issue understanding what I needed to do. Fabledom also has a continuous list of quests and chores to do. Most of them are to help understand the gameplay elements, explaining things like why you build a few labor huts but a lot of homesteads. Labor huts are where the peasants that build the buildings live, homesteads are where everyone else lives. I never felt confused by menus. In sandbox builders, the amount of choices you can make to feel overwhelming in the beginning. That’s where the tutorial came in handy. It showed me step by step, without feeling like I was on rails, how to turn my small nothingness into a working village.

Once you have the swing of how Fabledom operates, the tutorial becomes most of a quest-giver; you get quests like adding a windmill that will turn the wheat your farmers make into flour. Eventually, you can learn to build a bakery where the flour turns into bread. A lot of what you are able to create is determined by your population size. Once you reach a certain thresholds, you unlock the ability to create new buildings, those could be basic structures like homes, food production related, essential, amenities, military, or fortifications. Being in Early Access, there were 18 unique buildings that I didn’t have access to, but I can see them on my build screen. When I highlight over them, it says “coming soon.” I’m unsure if that means they’ll be available on April 13 when the game goes into Early Access for everyone or sometime after.

I also liked the use of the overview menu. At any time I can see a list of all my subjects, what they do for a living, and find them instantly on the map. The overview menu also shows me the needs of each person, if those needs are being met. I can change what I want them to do from there en-mass if I need to. A feature that is useful when the game moves into the winter months, as I don’t need farmers. Other menu choices besides choosing what to build included a finances tab, a history log, a world map, and territories that I could purchase. All of them were straightforward and didn’t include a list of unnecessary items, something I feel like I see in a lot of similar games.

Besides the standard mode of game there is also a creative. The creative mode unlocks all the buildings, and makes it so there is no construction times. I didn’t spend a lot of time here, mostly because this mode feels like it still needs a little more work to function as the developer intends for it to. Creative is something I would like to give a real shot once more buildings become available as the Early Access progresses.

As the in-game weeks go by, you begin to attract more followers to you land, and you’re able to tax those followers, peasants at the start, to earn more money. You can take those taxes and create things like a hotel, a place where your villager can rest and relax that makes your workers happier, or build a stone quarry to mine, which will net you more money. But thankfully there’s not a lot of micro-managing, which I see in a lot of games in the genre that I’ve played. I’m not sure if that’s because there is still a lot of stuff to be added, or just how Fabledom plays. The lack of micro-managing helps to build Fabledom’s proclaimed relaxed feel.

One of the few complaints I had was the slower timeframe in which events happen in Fabledom. Being in Early Access and not having everything available to try was noticeable. I’m unsure if it was because not every building was unlocked, and so the developer had everything else progress at a slower pace to get me to play longer, or if that is how Fabledom is meant to feel. Overall Fabledom feels more slow than relaxed. I never felt pressured to do anything; even the quests that have time limits to complete provide more than enough time to complete. It never feels like I need to rush. The main reason gameplay feels slow at times is because of the money flow. I collect taxes every week, but found myself collecting taxes at the start of the week, building everything I had the money for, and then spending the rest of the week watching my laborers build my projects and waiting for new peasants to join.

Towards the end of my time with Fabledom I unlocked the ability to have commoners move in. Basic houses are giving way to condominiums, which means higher taxes, meaning more, and newer buildings will be unlocked shortly. I know the next step in that townsfolk will eventually become nobles, but them, along with military units, castles, and fortifications are a few items I can see are going to be added to Fabledom, but haven’t made it to Early Access yet.

While it doesn’t feel like a fully finished game, Fabledom does feel like it has a solid foundation. I never felt like Fabledom was broken; more like missing later game elements. It seems like the developers know where they want to take the next gameplay steps; they just haven’t unlocked it to players yet. Developer Grenaa Games has released a road map of what is coming up, and it looks enjoyable. Adding more interactions with neighboring kingdoms, military and soldier units, and castles are just a few things on their radar.

The biggest fault of Fabledom is being in Early Access, which is barely a fault at all. The game is growing but still needs to grow more before feeling like a fully thought-out game. I can see this pushing people away, which is a shame, I’ve had a lot of fun with Fabledom this week. It took around four hours my first playthrough to see everything that Fabledom has to offer at this time. Right now I’m tapped out on what I can do other than simply expanding my territory. While the content might feel short, there is a lot of great things Fabledom has to offer. Art that looks great, a game that plays smoothly, and the developer has managed to create a game that does feel relaxing, if even a little too relaxing in the latter half. Simply put, Fabledom has ahold of me, and I don’t want to let go until I can experience the full game.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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