Romopolis

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Romopolis on Steam

MSRP: $3.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 3/29/09


It’s hard to do something completely new, I get that.  Normally, I wouldn’t be one to hate on a game just for being derivative.  I get a little twitchier the closer it gets to carbon copy.  I’m not upset that Romopolis isn’t a city builder – I went into it full knowing it was a casual game, so I wasn’t expecting too much depth.  What I wasn’t expecting was a re-skin of HipSoft’s Build-A-Lot series with even less content and depth.

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The campaign mode is 24 scenarios long.  At least the first four are still ultra-simple tutorial mode scenarios that exist primarily to introduce you – very slowly – to the game mechanics. While it’s safe to assume that it gets more complex as you progress further into the campaign, it’s just too damn short to waste so much time on tutorial.  There is also a sandbox mode, however, since Romopolis is a goal-based casual puzzle-strategy game, I can’t imagine that there’s a whole lot of fun to be had there.

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Game play consists of constructing buildings in pre-determined plots, very light management of both workers and funds, with a happiness mechanic that reflects how well or poorly you make choices of where to place housing and services. Money is earned from taxes, which are only paid by residents in houses that are both in good repair and not currently undergoing construction of any type (including improvements). As to where the money goes, well, it goes everywhere.  You need to pay to train workers.  You need to order supplies.  You need to make one-time purchases of blueprints to learn how to construct new – and very necessary – buildings.

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You are given plenty of cash in the early levels to meet your time-based success goal; it is possible to not meet the deadline you’re given but to still complete the level.  Normally, a lot of the replay value in this type of casual game comes from replaying levels in order to achieve gold stars or medals, but I just couldn’t push through when I kept thinking that I’d played a much better version of this game, and that I’d prefer to replay that again over Romopolis.

It’s not so much that there’s anything wrong with the game in a vacuum – there’s a reason the Build-A-Lot series won awards and continued putting out games in the series for seven years. But there’s also nothing it does better, or any appreciable differences to justify its existence at all.  I had considered picking up all three games in the series put out by Lonely Troops, but now, I’m struggling not to request a refund on the one I did purchase.

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