Reviews

River Town Factory – Steam Review

FruitsNDoggie reviews River Town Factory, an ancient china themed automation RPG

First Impressions

When I first saw River Town Factory my immediate thought was Stardew Valley. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a source of inspiration, but as I looked further at the store page, the game didn’t look like a shameless knock-off. Without playing it myself or seeing more gameplay footage, I’d not be able to make that call accurately. Since I was excited by what the game could be like, I happily accepted a review key, ready to find out more.

Gameplay

The key difference between this title and casual, farming sim style games, is that you don’t take on the role of a farmer. You’re more of a general handyman or craftsman, who takes raw materials and processes them into useful components. For example, starting with wood, and making cloth, paper, or wooden planks and frames. Initially, you’ll merely hold a button down at a work table and churn out these items. With enough resources though, you’ll unlock machinery that lets you fill them with resources and generates those same items automatically. Ultimately, you’d want to create an assembly line that does everything for you, but it doesn’t take long before it gets fairly complex.

You have to sell all those goods to somebody, and that’s where River Town comes into play. Although, I thought they called it a village. Anyways, you’ll befriend the residents and complete quests on their behalf, which is the best way of making money. The two main types involve giving locals supplies or fighting wild animals. Combat is rather simple, but it helps break up all the crafting.

Controls

Once I figured out that the right joystick is used to navigate the options from your machines, the game started making more sense to me. It became even more clear when I learned that dismantling machines returns all the items stored within and were used to craft it in the first place. There’s a few things that can be a bit tricky when navigating the UI, especially since you can’t yet move buildings once you’ve placed them. If that gets patched in, I think there will be little to complain about with the controls. I might even use the mouse and keyboard instead of my controller, as I think it’d be the better way to set up the assembly lines.

Story

Through the fault of a falling meteorite, your character is warped back 1,000 years, remaining in the same area, but in a much simpler time. Like many isekai anime, you’ll use knowledge from the technologically advanced future to modernize this humble area. You also have the option to romance one of the locals, who hopefully isn’t an ancestor of yours. Surely none of your monkeying around will screw up the future or anything. Then again, you obviously weren’t the first to start tampering with the timeline.

Visuals

This game exudes China everywhere I look, including the character models, clothing, building designs, and plant life. More importantly, everything looks so smooth and crisp, with clean lines outlining all the objects. Enemies and monsters also have decent designs, but they’re a bit bland. For instance, with how often you fight spiders and bats in games, nothing made them stand out in River Town Factory. Plus, I hate spiders, so that’s always a negative. Regardless, it’s a pretty game, and I think most people would be pleased by its appearance.

Sound Design

My ignorance once again rears its ugly head, as I can’t speak to the authenticity of the music and instrumentation used in River Town Factory. To my ears it has the sound I associate with Chinese tunes, but that isn’t saying much. However, I’d assume a Chinese developer would incorporate the right ones. Either way, I didn’t notice a lot of tracks during my time with the game. There’s one for battles, special events, and general music while you’re at your workshop setting everything up. Honestly, most of the time I’m so focused on my arrangement I don’t hear it at all. I think it’s satisfactory background music, and I’m just curious how many unique songs the game has to help break up monotony.

Pros

🌟 Not to be too much of a weeb, but River Town Factory was unmistakably made by a Chinese studio. It’s a treat seeing all the historical factors put into the town, even if you are contaminating it with modernity.
🌟 Once you get your machinery powered up and organized just right, it feels so satisfying having your factory in production.
🌟 Even with all the time I’ve put into the game so far, I’ve only scratched the surface on all the items I can unlock.

Cons

❌ Although the portraits from unique characters conveys personality, the models themselves look rather flat. Their dialogue doesn’t have much variety either. It hardly seems worth talking to people, just like in real life.
❌ It takes a lot of time setting machinery up. I feel like I’m wasting several in-game days getting it in place, but it beats manually crafting things myself.
❌ You can’t juggle a couple of save files in order to reload earlier ones if you miss an important event.

Tips

🔍 If you acquire too many items and your backpack can’t hold it, a Temporary Items icon will pop up in the bottom left corner. Within the same in-game day, you can put all those items in storage instead of permanently losing them.
🔍 After unlocking the central node that lets you research new technology, you can use common materials to make I-Crystals. These are in turn used to open more tech.
🔍 It only takes a couple of hours and not that many resources to open up the ability to automate simple tasks. Definitely prioritize this early on.

Final Thoughts

Currently, my main issue with River Town Factory is the interface. It doesn’t bother me too much how complicated these systems become, as getting them set up effectively is part of the fun. However, when there’s no means to simply drag and drop placed machines to clean up and reroute the factory lines, undoing and redoing it all is a pain. Otherwise, you’d really want to outline and draw your theoretical assembly lines in advance before putting anything down so you don’t miss anything and have to monotonously fix it. Not when that often entails ripping several parts up because one error impacts many other areas.

For now, I’m going to take a break until that’s addressed, as I don’t want to redo my set-up again, as it’d take several in-game days to do so. Hopefully this matter can be patched sooner than later, and if so, I’d recommend picking the title up. The system has a lot of potential and is pretty addictive, despite some issues.

Overall Rating – High Quality

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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