Even with a game as polished and engorged as The Witcher III or Dragon Age Inquisition, I found it impossible not to question whether the genre had exhausted its potential. It just feels like it's recycling the same musty cliches again and again and again, like it's stuck in The Vermillion Vortex of Chronorb - Destroyer of The Time Wastes.
Indeed, it's a genre that is ripe for parody. The sort of parody, in fact, that you might expect to get from something called RPG Tycoon. Well... prepare to be disappointed.
RPG Tycoon bills itself as featuring "classic Tycoon gameplay" - which means it's the usual town-building, resource management, stuff, albeit with medieval-y bent, and a focus on hiring heroes to go on quests.
With a number of rival kingdoms competing for the same share of glory, RPG Tycoon is won by ensuring your town/kingdom gets the biggest slice of the gold.
There's also the inevitable - and much-needed - sandbox mode, which allows you to keep expanding your town without worrying about the ticking clock.
Alas, its faithfulness to one genre is potentially the biggest issue with the game: in attempting to up-end RPG tropes, it instead boasts a slavish adherence to that classic empire-building model, without really offering anything truly distinct. Make your town look lovely, build different types of buildings, do some landscape gardening, build a theatre, and more people will come and visit: and that's really all there is to the game.
It feels like a missed opportunity; the name implies that this is going to be a game about role-playing games. Instead, it drops The Golden Orb of Plorg, and lets it roll into a crevice.
Also - frequently confusing interface aside - it's a very simplistic game, hampered by some wince-inducing design choices.
Menus are painfully fiddly, while sending your heroes on quests - something which happens off-screen, frustratingly - requires you to dole out gear, and fill every slot with equipment, regardless of whether it's appropriate to their mission. There's little guidance offered with the latter, and it frequently becomes a case of trial and effort.
Not helping any of this are the visuals, which reflect the basic gameplay: they're isometric, but low on detail and aesthetic appeal. A few graphical flourishes would've gone some way to making up for the deficiencies elsewhere. Likewise, something approaching a sense of humour.
It's a shame, because the name alone implies a concept that is just begging to happen. A god game wherein you guide a whole community of adventurers, one with its tongue firmly in its cheek, that looks at the other side of the RPG coin, should be great. Sadly, that isn't what you get here. Far from it.
SUMMARY: A game that is both simple and complicated, and not in a good way. A great idea on paper, but fails to capitalise on its own potential.
SCORE: 9 missed opportunities out of 23.