Tilted Mill – of Caesar IV and Children of the Nile fame – has just released Hinterland, an intriguing mashup of fantasy action roleplaying and city management. While in trying to manage both it ends up doing neither with much depth, at just $19.99 over Steam, Hinterland may well be worth a look.
Choosing from one of many character archetypes – businessman, bandit, knight, etc. – your adventure begins with orders from The King: settle in this crappy, monster-infested scumhole of territory out in the far reaches of The Kingdom. Attract filthy peasants to muck around in the dirt and eventually die of the Sweating Sickness. Also, kill all the monsters in the area and build a nice village for the have-nots to live in. And watch out for raiders. And fulfill requests from The King from time to time. And don’t run out of food. And try to get more famous by slaying beasts and performing Deeds.
With no tutorial and without the intelligence to realize that there is a manual available online, it took me a while to get the hang of Hinterland, but now that I do understand what’s going on, I see the potential for addiction here. Each game is based on a uniquely generated map and can run anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days worth of play. The action is simple: go fight enemies, attract visitors to town and build homes and businesses for them. If you like, you can recruit followers into your adventuring party from town, though of course that means they stop doing their jobs. Then head out and kill more monsters.
Combat is simplistic, building and city management are watered down; but there’s fun to be had in Hinterland. First, it’s a new idea in a world where we see few new ideas, and the nature of this grind, while repetitive, doesn’t seem to get old very fast. I’ve only dedicated a few hours to the game, but I’m heading back for more right after I click Publish. There’s a goblin infestation west of town, and their days are numbered.