Artificer’s Tower Review – Wizards Of Neighborly Place

Colony sim games walk a fine line, trying to find a place to exist somewhere between extremes. If your game doesn’t have enough automation options, your players are quickly overwhelmed. If your game is too automated, the player has nothing to do. There’s a medium to hit that requires players to think constantly, but also be able to zone out once they master another level of management and let their settlers work. While it errs on the side of being over-complicated, Artificer’s Tower mostly sticks the landing and manages to be pretty cozy in the process.

I recommend following the tutorial, which is nicely paced, to get started. You are managing a wizard stronghold, building it from the ground up, and that means we’re gonna need a LOT of wizards. A whole bucket of ’em. Artificer’s Tower is similar to some other colony sims like Fallout Shelter in that it takes a side view of a 2D world, letting you see inside the rooms of your vast wizard complex at all times. I personally prefer overhead management games, but I’m always down for a change of pace.

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The tutorial is helpful but there are almost too many layers to cover.

Artificer’s Tower is essentially like many other colony sim management games in that you’ll start with a few settlers and a few basic resources. You build out the rooms, stacking one on top of another or next to each other, with different crafting functions. I really enjoy the cozy art style here, and it hearkens back to a time of browser games in the mid 2000s. Something about this game reminds me of the games on I used to play afterschool, in the best ways.

Using basic resources like water, stone, wood, and fabric you’ll need to house your wizards, clothe them, feed them, and keep them happy through SCIENCE! Yes, the classic science tree you know from all management games is a magic spellbook now, but research works the same way. Picking wizards who are better at one job or another by examining their stats will maximize your research, food, and magical gizmos output.  More wizards from neighboring villages will arrive to join and apprentice with you, as well as some occasional ne’er-do-wells.

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If I catch Wayne sleeping on the job one more time it’s off to the Shadow Realm.

One small thing I like about Artificer’s Tower is how doorways work. You’re mostly free to build in whatever configuration you would like, since all doors are magic door portals that lead from one floor or building directly to another. Most rooms don’t need to be placed directly next to a specific other room to function because of this neat little factor. In fact, you can connect any two doorways anywhere to specifically drive wizard foot traffic how you like.

Most of my complaints with Artificer’s Tower are really one complaint – there’s too much going on. Even on the peaceful difficulty, I have to constantly pause time to manage my wizards or by day three they’re starving because I just can’t produce a kitchen and then produce food fast enough. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to go through six levels of crafting five of item A to make two of item B which I need to combine with item C in this specific kind of room that I need to do two days of research to unlock, and then I can finally upgrade a wizard robe for better stats.

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Doors can be placed wherever you’d like, even if they don’t really make sense.

Since this is a management game the menus are very important, and they mostly work well. I love the aesthetic design, and while it’s intuitive to move through them there is just so much going on with each menu consisting of over six submenus and some with even more sub-submenus underneath. It looks nice, and once I understood where everything was I was flowing just fine, but it was a real uphill battle to understand what I was looking at. I don’t need to see resource tables and work over time charts – there is such a thing as too much information.

I think this is the crux of the problem – Artificer’s Tower comes out way too hot and heavy with mechanics. It does have a great tutorial that’s easy to follow, but I don’t feel that it prepared me for the reality of taking care of a half dozen wizards while trying to manage how much essence I’m reaping while four other things require my immediate attention. I think I would be less excited about this game if there were dire consequences to getting overwhelmed, but there are not. This game is extremely forgiving, but it didn’t really help my stress levels.

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Make sure to always have someone researching new magic and buildings.

Considering the look of the game I probably don’t need to say this, but Artificer’s Tower ran at 144 FPS 1440p on my PC with no bugs, glitches, or frame drops. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Steam Deck ready, and credit to the developer for creating a built-in control scheme for a gamepad, but colony sim/management games are always very uncomfortable to control with a gamepad. I found it to be unplayable like this. If you only have a Steam Deck, the option is there, but I highly, highly recommend a good ole fashioned mouse and keyboard.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Artificer’s Tower, although I feel that right at the start it requires a lot of attention with very little opportunity for automation. If you’re someone who loves multi-tasking challenges, I think this will work for you. If you’re looking for something peaceful, I would probably look elsewhere. I had fun with the game, but it mostly made me want to boot up Fallout Shelter again, which is hands-down my favorite colony sim. I think Artificer’s Tower is more for colony sim veterans and will quickly overwhelm newbies, but honestly the art and music are so pleasant it may be worth it to just mess around and see what kind of tower you can build. We’re off to see the wizard!

Nirav played Artificer’s Tower on PC with a review code.

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