If SimCity and Dragon Quest had a disturbingly cute 8-bit lovechild, it might look something like Kairosoft’s Dungeon Village. The player takes on the role of town administrator in a heroic fantasy world, deciding which shops get built and which heroes get promoted. After so many years of watching powerful warriors and mages hog the stage, it’s great to see shopkeepers and other support personnel finally get a chance to shine.
Dungeon Village loosely resembles Carpe Fulgur's entrepreneurial sim, Recettear. Adventurers come to your town (shop) to buy weapons and other equipment. You won’t see any of Recettear’s brightly drawn characters or funny dialogue here, but Dungeon Village has its own brand of retro charm.
Fans of role-playing games will find the adventurer class system familiar and endearing. If you prefer simulation games, there’s always just one more building design to buy from the shop, and all of the finished structures have different effects on the stats of adventurers who frequent them.
The touch-based menu navigation is smooth and responsive, and while the music is a bit chirpy and repetitive (I’ve only encountered four tracks in about eight hours of play), it’s never driven me to put my iPad on mute.
One of my relatives had some pretty major surgery recently, and Dungeon Village was one of the games I put on my list of “activities to keep him from going insane.” It’s great for eating up a few minutes while you’re waiting for the train, or just for plopping down in bed and getting a fix right before you go to sleep.
With a $4.99 price tag, Dungeon Village is a bit more of an investment than your average iOS game. Unlike most apps at this low price point though, Dungeon Village adds a modicum of replay value by allowing players to start building a new village once they finish their first.
If you don't prefer the fantasy backdrop, Kairosoft offers several other similar titles ranging from the sci-fi (Epic Astro Story) to psuedo-historical (Oh! Edo Town). These games suffer a bit from a self-Zynga effect. They're all very much alike in presentation and mechanics, so you can probably get away with choosing your favorite and moving on.