Lakeburg Legacies Review – A rocky marriage

Reviewed July 20, 2023 on PC




July 21, 2023


Ishtar Games


Ishtar Games

Lakeburg Legacies wants to fit right into the ‘cozy’ genre of games with a combination of dating simulation and city building against a rustic Medieval backdrop. Its delightful and charismatic trailer drew me in immediately. I couldn’t wait to pour myself a mocha, cover up in blankets and cardigans, and settle in for the hours these town management sims tend to require. But despite the existence of a few good ideas, it doesn’t succeed in doing either genre particularly well.

Starting off with a single villager, your job as Lakeburg’s matchmaker is to create a bustling town by making happy marriages. It’s a romantic pitch, but since you’re also in charge of the town’s workforce, you also need to think about resource gathering and expanding your industry. On top of that, there are various social aspects to keep track of, as the relationships villagers can form with each other will affect their morale, productivity, and love lives. This is a pretty novel idea, and there are some aspects of it that do work well with the town building mechanics.

When a villager needs a match, you can send them to the matchmaker and choose their new spouse. Each potential spouse appears to be randomly generated each time, and the art style does an impressive job of making each one look natural rather than a hodge-podge of different features. They also come with a wide range of skills, hobbies, and personality traits, not all of which will be positive. You’ll need to weigh these positives and negatives against each other to decide whether or not to bring them into the fold. You can set your villagers up with anyone regardless of gender, which is nice to see, and doing so won’t affect your couple’s ability to have children.

Getting two villagers together is the weakest part of the process, as it involves a frustrating memory test where you guide the pair’s conversation topics over three dates. If you touch on a wrong topic, the pair don’t get as attached to each other as they otherwise might. If you get it wrong all three times, you lose the chance to marry the pair. This loses its charm fast due to the sheer number of times you have to do it, and trying to rush through the dates just makes you all the more likely to mess up.

Once you have a good number of villagers in Lakeburg, they’ll start to interact with each other and form friendships and rivalries. You don’t have to directly manage these, which is good especially in the late game when you have over a hundred villagers. Sometimes an event will occur that affects your game: a couple might break up, a villager might have some sort of scandal, or something good might happen.

“… these mechanics just aren’t complex enough to make up for the shallow social aspects, making the entire game fall flat.”

I enjoyed watching as babies grew into children and then into adults, and it was charming to see the children growing up with relationships with each other, whether that be positive or negative. I also enjoy the apprenticeship system, where you can have a child study under an adult villager so that they may specialise in their occupation when they become adults; it gave me a real sense of progress, like each new generation was going to be ever so much better than the last.

But apart from choosing them a spouse and a job, your relationship with your villagers is very hands-off. the few events that can occur that require a decision from you are few and far between and for the rest of the time they can be ignored. Some more complexity here would have been a real value-add to the game, because its other main mechanic, building the town, isn’t very complex either.

A loveless marriage of gameplay

Lakeburg Legacies scratches the same basic itch as any city builder: it keeps you busy making sure you’re generating enough wood to make a farm so you can grow enough wheat to make enough bread to feed your town, while also making sure your industries are running as efficiently as possible. Essentially, it’s for those who love to create a well-oiled machine. But these mechanics just aren’t complex enough to make up for the shallow social aspects, making the entire game fall flat.

The first major problem is that the game has a predetermined location for each type of building; you cannot choose where each building is placed. Why the developers chose to create the town this way leaves me at a loss, because it so obviously eliminates one of the most important aspects that make city builders so replayable: creativity. I mean, what’s in a town planning game when I don’t even have to plan the town?

You often can’t even choose your own order of which industry to build first. Lakeburg Legacies is unusually rigid with its building tree: all buildings are separated by three queues, and you must build the next in line before building something further later in the queue. The queues seem completely arbitrary, which can be downright infuriating. You may have a villager with a top skill as a baker, but you can’t put them to work as one because you can’t build a bakery before you’ve built… a sewing workshop. Make it make sense!

These limitations are annoying, but not dealbreakers by themselves. I kept myself busy by purchasing upgrades to my industry building (this, at least, I could do as I pleased), right up until I ran out of buildings to build. It was at that point I began to wonder what exactly the end goal was. What am I doing here? To what end am I endlessly marrying off my villagers the moment they turn 18? The game doesn’t seem to know either, and my game ended anticlimactically on the town’s 75th year, which is just how long I chose the game to go for.

Playing on the standard difficulty, I was able to complete every single prestige reward except for 1 on my very first playthrough. There are settings that would make the game harder, but what is there to draw me back to building the same town again? Not much. The last half of the game is too much of a slog to make even a 50-year game worthwhile.




  • Core concept of building a town through marriage is appealing
  • Cozy, rustic art style to match the romantic theme
  • Some aspects of the gameplay come together well


  • Limited town-building mechanics leaves no room for creativity
  • Social mechanics aren't complex enough to make up for what town-building lacks
  • Matchmaking villagers gets old fast
  • Little-to-no replay value

Despite the promising combination of dating sim and resource management mechanics, Lakeburg Legacies doesn’t lean hard enough in either direction, resulting in a wishy-washy game that’s charming in looks but lacking in substance. The bones of a good game are here, but it just doesn’t come together into something memorable.