Having already spent a week with Alta’s A Township Tale for Oculus Quest it became clear that this was nowhere near enough time to actually review this open-world adventure. Originally brought to PC in 2019, if I’d played this version of A Township Tale then I would’ve had a better understanding. Instead, I stepped into A Township Tale fresh and naive that I’d be able to see most of what it had to offer prior to launch and give a definitive answer. What I can say most assuredly, if you’re looking for a huge, brand new Oculus Quest videogame to play with friends then this is most certainly it.
If you’re already acquainted with the PC edition of A Township Tale or have been closely following its development, all the core functionality and gameplay has been brought over to Oculus Quest. Every player can start their own virtual server (private or open), get invited to another or simply join an already open server. These are their own individual worlds, so any progress made stays with them, hence why it’s a good idea to start your own with a few friends to nurture. Because you’ll need them, there’s a lot of ground to cover and jobs to do – unless you’re a glutton for multitasking.
And I’m not lying when I say you’ve got plenty to keep yourself busy. A Township Tale is built around collaboration as each server can support up to eight players so you can build a merry town. All the marketing blurb focuses on each player choosing a profession which they then have to stick to, every one providing vital services to progress the groups’ goal. In reality, this is only partially correct. You can if you so choose become a Blacksmith or a Woodcutter, or decide that you want to be a warrior fighting through monster-filled woods. It is quite easy to be a bit of everything, learning the various crafts so you know how to forge a weapon or cook a tasty meal.
That’s certainly the case if you don’t have a full contingent, becoming even more daunting if you decide to start a game all by yourself. And this is exactly what I did, thinking “how hard can this be?” as I wandered around the derelict town for the first time. Hard wasn’t really the correct description either, it was more “what the f**k do I do and where do I go?” A Township Tale gives you almost complete freedom to do that, with almost no handholding whatsoever. There’s a tutorial which in itself isn’t exactly straight forward and once you’re through that, satchel in hand, you’re off to build a brave new world.
Like any videogame of this ilk, you’re going to stumble around for a bit as you find your bearings. There are basic challenges to help give you direction and books which do kind of detail some of the mechanics but there’s certainly plenty of trial and error. This is why it’s best to bring at least one buddy along so you can all figure some of this stuff out. Brazenly, after felling a couple of chicken/dodo type creatures wandering around the town we thought it would be a good idea to explore farther afield, get the lay of the land so to speak. We so weren’t ready.
Whilst there’s plenty to do in and around the town, collecting useful resources such as food or various rocks and ores, there’s a big world to explore and it’s dangerous. Danger is good, danger is exciting unless of course you dive into your first fight with nothing more than a piece of flint strapped to a stick. In which case, death is almost certain, and with the hunger level low, the option to run away suddenly wasn’t there. Then, in a very Dark Souls kinda way, I returned to the town minus one backpack full of useful items I’d collected, so you know exactly what happened next.
Thus it would be nice to get back and suddenly find one of your mates has been finessing their blacksmithing skills and created a new weapon or maybe someone else has cooked up a hearty broth to soothe those bones, all possible in A Township Tale.
It’s an impressive achievement getting this massive open-world to work on Oculus Quest considering its hardware limitations. There are no loading sequences that I could find, run into a fort or go explore some dark and dingy caves and it’s all smooth and effortless, making A Township Tale truly feel immersive. However, sacrifices have had to be made to ensure this velvety effortlessness. As VRFocus previously reported when Alta released a comparison video between the PC VR and Oculus Quest versions, massive amounts of detail have been scrapped, especially at a distance. If you’re expecting a beautiful landscape when you get to the top of a hill, don’t, the videogame is best appreciated at closer range. Even then, buildings, trees, animals will all pop into view. That’s the price you pay for wireless, standalone freedom.
Even with these visual issues – and a few other annoying quirks – the time that I’ve spent with A Township Tale has been a blast, just mucking around working shit out. And not once have I been bored, even strolling around the town at night lighting all the torches was a simple joy, seeing the flames flicker away. As mentioned, I do need to spend more time digging into A Township Tale and its various mechanics to provide a proper review. Priced at $9.99 USD, from what I’ve seen so far A Township Tale is an absolute bargain on Oculus Quest.
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