Within 30 minutes of establishing my little village, we’ve had two marriages, one baby, one affair, two divorces and… you guessed it: a whole new marriage. It doesn’t take long for capital D drama to arrive in Lakeburg Legacies, a self-proclaimed social city builder that blends creating an idyllic settlement with playing matchmaker for all of its inhabitants.
What that means is that Lakeburg Legacies isn’t quite a fully-fledged city builder, instead trading off more intricate systems and details to allow space for people management and deciding who’s best to bed and wed who. It’s pretty barebones on the actual building front in most parts, as you don’t get to decide where you place your newly unlocked builders or the homes of your civilians.
Instead, you unlock buildings by building up resource stocks, whether that’s wood, wheat, or more multi-staged goods like clothing. This allows you to place more complex building types, but also expand the capacity and productivity of your buildings to speed your progress up. But building is just picking the next available unlock from a list and watching it piece itself together on the pre-ordained village map. It doesn’t help that the villager homes are on another screen in one long slightly inhuman line, not giving you much of a sense of the drama that might be going on inside. Lakeburg Legacies’ pastel tones and painterly art style help to give it a distinct feel so although it might not be the best city-building games out there, it is one of the prettiest.
Farming and fornicating
While the city-building element might be a little watered down for serious genre fans, the match-making is the real hook. It’s not often that you’re able to get so entangled in the personal lives of your villagers in city builders, and for me, that was the thing that made me so excited for Lakeburg Legacies. It’s the true driver of the game too, as although those aforementioned resources are important, love and family are the real driving force at play here. Who knew love was a currency eh?
You’ll start with a single villager – both in terms of numbers and relationship status. They’ll have the farm to work on, but otherwise, it’s a pretty miserable existence. Time to call on the medieval matchmaker herself, a mystic with a crystal ball kind of deal who’s able to see how well your lusty villagers match with singles from other settlements – and basically everyone’s bisexual too. You can see where their interests align, whether that’s a love of hugs and public executions or a hatred of kittens (honestly makes me want to evict them from my village altogether that one). The more similar they are, the easier it will be for that all-important first date to go well.
Of course, it also depends on your memory too – unless you want to have a matchmaking notepad to hand. There are three layers of questions for the first date, with each having two answers. You need to pick the one that best aligns with your daters, as the better your date goes the better their marriage will be. Oh yes, no long courting period for the people of Lakeburg Legacies – it’s one date and then straight into vows.
You have almost godlike control over so much of your citizen’s lives, deciding who they’ll marry, how many children they’re able to have, and whether they should act on their impulses. Your citizens, as your population grows from either childbirth or recruiting new faces from other places, will start to meet each other and form relationships of their own. Some will be purely acquaintances, but your little journal will keep a note of all the meets, greets, ambivalences – all the way up to the potential affairs. At which point you’ll be given the opportunity to step in.
One villager was a serial flirt, causing her poor husband to be constantly asking me what she was up to. Eventually, she left him for a new lady in the village, such was the level of distrust. I just couldn’t put poor Francesco through another betrayal. Some relationships will start to crack through smaller events too, so you can send them on dates or give them gifts to attempt to repair the rifts. But, their fractures and new partnerships will always have an impact, including creating bad working environments in your buildings too. It’s a lot!
There’s also the pressure – mainly that I put on myself – to match villagers with their ideal roles. Yvis Ward for example wants to be a baker, taster, or… queen. So I whacked her in as a baker, but unfortunately, she died long before I could build a castle and give her a shot at the crown. I wish there was a better management overview for swapping people around, but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the romance and scandals that it’s easier to just make sure they’ve got a job, even if it’s not their ideal one.
Of course, it’s not the only city builder that blends love with settlement crafting, with more and more games like Fabledom arriving in recent months to let us smooch princes and princesses. What I like about Lakeburg Legacies is that it’s pretty passive, perfect for Sunday afternoons when one might be feeling a little fragile.