Gnome Town lets you explore a magical forest, without wasting any energy

If nothing else, Playdom’s Gnome Town is notable for the absence of a feature. Yes, this is a Facebook game with no energy system, so you don’t have to worry about ever running out. That alone makes the game worth a look, but thankfully there’s a lot more to it. Gnome Town is an adventure filled with fantasy and mystery and more than a few clever ideas.

At the outset of Gnome Town you learn of the evil gnome king, a powerful being who has taken over the shrouded forest and seemingly sucked all of the life out of it. Natrually, it’s your job to set things right. To do this you’ll need to clear away spooky looking thorny vines and restore the titular gnome town to its former glory. You’ll be both building a city and rescuing the animals who will live there.

Gnome Town

Much like in FrontierVille or Ravenwood Fair, a large part of Gnome Town revolves around your constant fight against nature. You’ll clear away debris consisting of leaves, acorns, and mushrooms, but when you come back to the game later on they’ll start to grow back. Thankfully the debris doesn’t re-form too quickly, and thus isn’t particularly annoying. In an interesting twist, you’ll expand your town not by buying upgrades, but by collecting machetes that can be used to slice through the evil thorns that have taken over much of the forest.

But back to the lack of energy. Gnome Town still features largely appointment-based gameplay, which means that each action takes a certain amount of time to complete. Harvesting a crop could take a matter of seconds, for instance, while building a barn may take a few hours. What these actions don’t do, though, is consume energy. Instead, you’ll have a limited number of helpers who can perform tasks for you, and as you explore the forest further your workforce will grow. And when you have lots of time consuming jobs to complete, you can speed things up by gathering food.

You’ll regularly receive letters from the gnome king — not the evil one — that gingerly help move the story along. But you’ll also regularly come across ancient relics in the form of statues and gates. As you discover these mysterious items, you’ll learn more about the gnome world. It’s a clever way of making the story of the game an actual gameplay mechanic.

Gnome Town

Gnome Town isn’t quite perfect, though. Many of the tasks, such as building a new structure or rescuing some animals, take a large number of friends to complete. There’s also a player vs player element that, while unique, feels underdeveloped. Here you can compete with other players, whether they’re your friends or not, in a variety of tasks. You can have a brawl, for example, or try to out party one another. Your success is dependent on the types of decorations in your town, as well as the number of helpers you have and your experience level. It sounds neat, but the fully automated competitions don’t really fit in well witht he rest of the experience. Really, it’s easy to forget about it entirely.

But other than that, there’s little to complain about in Gnome Town. The helper system and expansion mechanics are novel and fun, and the game’s world is one you’ll want to explore and learn more about. This is helped out quite a bit by some stellar production values, which cleverly use your small stature to create a unique universe. Old tin cans become barns while mailboxes turn into homes. Instead of farm animals, you’ll be raising snails and ladybugs. It’s cute and clever and just plain enjoyable.

Sometimes, it’s good to be a gnome.