Dragon flies over a small town in Fabledom
Image via Grenaa Games

Fabledom Review: A Whimsically Relaxing Game With a Romance Twist

Fabledom balances fairy tales and love while offering the expected city building fare.

Fabledom is the most recent city builder to be released. But it adds an unusual subgenre into its formula to help set it apart from others: romance. Instead of using strategic elements that let you conquer other lands, you’re looking for love to unite regions. The result is a whimsically relaxing game.

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Fairy Tales Come to Life in Fabledom

Medieval city builders tend to have rather serious tones. Many start off with a group of villagers who were exiled or simply want to start a new life, but they have nowhere else to go. Fabledom offsets this seriousness by building a world where familiar fairy tales are real. You find references to various stories throughout the regions and even in events that pop up. I started next to a tile that had Cinderella’s lost shoe. Once you have a hero, you’re able to start interacting with these references. However, it can take a chunk of time to reach that point.

In addition to this lighthearted world, the reason given for why you’re managing a territory and building it up is also a bit funny. As a prince or princess, your parents sent you off to learn about ruling over an area while you search for your future spouse. The storybook opening is a nice touch that sets the tone for the game, and it’s refreshing if you’re tired of conquering lands in games like Manor Lords to have an environment where the pressure put on you revolves around being noble and finding love.

Diving Into Fabledom Gameplay

The tutorial for Fabledom is smooth and gives you all the information you need to get started. If you’ve played Cities: Skylines, you’ll be able to jump right into the game. The mechanics are incredibly similar, but I’d argue that Fabledom is easier since the medieval setting means you don’t need to deal with electricity, water pipes, and sewage pipes. Instead, you have wells, coal, and sewage drains, which aren’t as demanding or finicky. Food supply is a lot more important in Fabledom, and a big part of your survival strategy is managing resources and making sure you can support your settlement before you try growing.

Of course, you run out of room for building in your starting tile quickly. Just like Cities: Skylines, you can use your currency — which is coins in this case — to purchase more tiles that are adjacent to those you already own. Coins aren’t that tough to get once you have a decent population size, as each month you collect taxes from your residents. As your population grows, you hit settlement milestones, which unlock new buildings.

Overall, Fabledom is easy to get into. City builders can be intimidating, but this is perfect for beginners. The added twist of fairy tales and romance adds levity to a genre that can feel depressing, especially with a medieval setting. As such, this rendition might be more approachable for players who are interested in city building but want to avoid titles that heavily rely on strategy.

How Fairy Tales Fit into Fabledom

I mention fairy tales a few times, and that’s because Fabledom includes events based on various fairy tales. You need a hero to investigate these events, and you usually end up with a reward for doing so. Some tiles have a fairy tale reference at the beginning, and you can investigate them once you purchase that tile. However, they also spawn at random during the game. 

As an example, a girl in a red hood appeared in the middle of a forested area in one of my tiles. It’s a cute addition to the game that makes me think of Shrek and the way it mixes fairy tales into a single world. Overall, they don’t have a big impact on the gameplay itself. It’s more for the style and flair.

Adding Romance to City Building

The most unique part of Fabledom is the romance portion. I don’t often see romance and marriage added into a city builder, but it’s crucial to advancing through the chapters of this game. Because of the mechanics of city builders, the way that you approach a romantic partnership is a bit different compared to RPGs.

First, you need to go into your map and meet all the leaders of other regions. These are your marriage candidates. Each one has different likes, which you need to gather to send them a gift. A large number of that leader’s like item acts as the courting gift. Once you decide who you want to romance, you send the courting gift to start a quest chain. 

I think this is the only way to actually approach romance in a city builder, and it works for this genre. It isn’t as gripping as an RPG romance, but it serves its purpose. I don’t think you can make it more involved given what you have to work with, but that doesn’t mean that the romantic element is exciting. Basically, if you’re looking for a game centered around romance, this isn’t what you want to choose.

Fabledom — The Bottom Line

Pros:

  • Easy to understand
  • Cute style and theme
  • A game you can run in the background while doing other tasks

Cons:

  • Romance falls flat
  • The difficulty drops when your city is large enough, which is typical for city builders
  • The pace for growing is rather slow

Fabledom provides hours of entertainment, but it suffers from the usual drawbacks of a city builder, such as the slow pace and drop in difficulty when you reach a stable point. Adding romance was an interesting choice, but I feel that aspect is held back by the design of city builders in general. That being said, I had fun running my city in the background and coming back to see how much progress was made. Given its design and visuals, Fabledom would be an amazing mobile game.

9
Fabledom Review: A Whimsically Relaxing Game With a Romance Twist
Fabledom balances fairy tales and love while offering the expected city building fare.

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Author
Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.