Heroism is nice, but you know what's even better? A tidy profit! In Kairosoft's latest simulation for mobile devices, Dungeon Village, you find yourself the mayor of a struggling little fantasy village that hasn't seen much business in years. With monsters roaming the countrysides and nearby dungeons simmering with danger, how can you possibly hope to get a coveted five star rating? Why, by enticing in adventurers to do the dirty work for you, of course! Design and build your town to lure in adventurers of all kinds, who will not only keep your coffers full to bursting as they frequent your shops, but also set about ridding the surrounding lands of monster menaces. As they get stronger, so will you, and with their help your town will grow into a bustling medieval metropolis in no time... provided you don't find yourself rampaged into the ground by an angry dragon family, of course.
While not technically part of the "Story" series of games, Dungeon Village shares most of the same gameplay. You're given an assistant who walks you through the basics of running your fledgling adventurer/tourist trap, and as you progress and improve more options are unlocked. In addition to the almighty dollar, which is important for building structures and paying expenses, you'll also earn points you can spend on events to increase the town's popularity or otherwise strengthen its inhabitants, or on new facilities to build. Of course, don't spend too long arranging your daffodils and boosting your bakery's appeal... that's not where your bread is buttered.
Instead, most of the game relies on managing the adventurers you manage to entice into your town as your facilities and ratings improve. You want to keep them satisfied with shops and events so they eventually may decide to move in and spend even more money, but you also want their work ethic high so they're more likely to respond to the various quests that pop up when you decide to hire someone. Quests can be anything from dealing with roving bands of monsters outside the town to exploring dungeons filled with enemies and treasures. You don't actually get to do any of this yourself, unfortunately, but as more and more monsters move in and dungeons appear, you'll have your hands full managing everything. If your adventurers seem to be getting trounced too often, or just aren't showing up to quests enough for your liking, you can spend a little cash and give them presents of equipment to make them happy and boost their stats.
Despite the adventurer mechanics, Dungeon Village feels very similar to Kairosoft's other titles, which is hardly a bad thing since their addictive, colourful and easy to grasp gameplay is what makes them such excellent time wasters to begin with. It's a little like watching a tiny MMORPG, with people trundling around and engaging in battles for loot, and you'll definitely get a few giggles out of the goofy puns and riffs the adventurer names take on classic characters when you recognise them. It would have been nice if the fantasy theming was better carried through some of the shops, and if you prefer a more hands-on approach to your adventuring you're out of luck. But Dungeon Village is still an exceptionally vibrant, cute, and surprisingly engrossing little game that you'll find yourself reaching for whenever you have some time to kill... and maybe even when you should be doing other things as well.