When it comes to mobile city builders, all we really want is freedom. Specifically, the kind of freedom to build what you want, were you want and not have too many restrictions on how you lay out and expand your city. Dream Town Story gives you that kind of independence, throws in some RPG flourishes and wraps it all up in an inviting package, but it also hinders some aspects of the experience with a frustrating dose of randomness.

It all starts out, as these things often do, with a single citizen and a dream. Once you get him or her squared away with a place to live, a few more citizens will show up, and before long, you’re on your way to building a proper town. The nuts and bolts of setting up new housing and facilities aren’t too much different from other city builders, as you can lay things out in nearly any fashion provided everything is connected to a road.

Placing houses close to each other and amenities like parks and plants increases their Coziness rating, making them more attractive for new arrivals and increasing the chances their inhabitants will upgrade them. Your citizens also don’t like to be far from where they work (and hey, none of us like to commute), the better for them to earn money each month and spend it in your restaurants and shops.

Dream Town Story

Indeed, instead of trying to have you amass populations in the millions, Dream Town Story makes every individual citizen count. Each person has a dream job and amenities, can switch jobs to improve their lot in life and obtain vehicles or pets under the right conditions. They end up forming a living, breathing society and economy, and since they’re done up in the typical Kairosoft visual style, you sort of can’t help but let them into your heart.

What isn’t quite as endearing is the way you have to research new things to build. Not only can’t you really control what to build next, which isn’t that unusual for a free city builder, you also have to endure wait timers to even see what you get. Sometimes you’ll unlock something new, but other times, you’ll simply be permitted to construct more of what you already have. If the RNG gods aren’t smiling upon you, your citizens may have to wait on that steakhouse and enjoy their third pizzeria.

Dream Town Story

(Not that we don’t all love pizza, of course.)

Ranking up your city is accomplished through a bizarre system where your buildings battle it out with those from another town. Because Kairosoft, we guess. There’s also a feature that allows you to team up with other players to complete common goals, but it isn’t explained very well and could prove confounding even after playing for a while.

Dream Town Story

Some people will love Dream Town Story just because it’s undeniably cute, or because it really does have a lot to offer for a free city builder. Others will find the F2P trappings and randomness too much of a bother, but the promise of freedom to do things your own way is mostly kept, and that alone makes it worth a download to see if it’s for you.