Village Sim

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Developer: LDW SoftwarePublisher: LDW Software
Release Date: April 11, 2005Also On: None

LDW has invented its own genre, the real-time game. Building on the famous Tamagotchi concept they made Plant Tycoon and Fish Tycoon which both run in real-time. If you forget to check you fish for a few hours too much, they will die. If you do not look after your plants there will not be plants anymore. If you are at work, school or should be sleeping, it does not matter. You have to check if everything is alright from time to time. A game like this can only work on a mobile device that you have always with you. Plant and Fish Tycoon created a whole new way of gaming that took the Palm gaming world by storm. Now finally the third game in the Isola series has been released. While Plant and Fish Tycoon were petty much the same game, Village Sim is the logical evolution. It’s not about breeding and solving the DNA puzzle. Instead you have to watch over a tribe of humans stranded on an isolated island.

When your group of six people arrives at the island it finds some structures left by the former inhabitants ready to use. There are some houses to live in, a well and a place to store food. There is also a table that can be used for scientific research and some structures your villagers cannot yet understand. Life could be peaceful but it is already foreseeable that the bush you get your food from will one day be empty. Your villagers do have some basic intelligence but they do not see the bigger picture. They do what is fun or worry about the food shortage instead of doing something about it.

That’s where you come in. You can move people around with your stylus to tell them what to do. There are five different activities a villager can do: collect food, research, breed, heal and construct. If a villager does something he gets better at it. Villagers like to do activities they are good at but you can also tell them to concentrate on one specific thing. You have to manage that there is enough food, enough babies but also enough research points so that you can get the tech upgrade in harvesting before the bush is empty.

Tech points are earned at the science table by villagers doing research. You can use them like money to get upgrades. There are six things to upgrade; the five activities plus spirituality which improves the understanding of your villagers and lets them discover new things in their surroundings. If you check after it often, your village will grow and flourish. From time to time there are special events and you are asked what to do. Cut open a drum your villagers found to take a look inside or keep it to make music? Drink the blue liquid? It is always hard to make those decisions because you can never be sure what will happen.

It is great fun to watch over your villagers because each of them somehow develops a personality. This is Layla, the slut, who sleeps with everyone and has one child after the other. Over there is Elan, the old doctor, who has healed almost everyone at least once but who is now sick more often than anyone else. At the table stands Liko, the master scientist, who is teaching young Nishi what to do. Later it can get pretty crowded but some villagers always stand out of the crowd because of their look, their job or their history.

The typical life of a villager starts with two years when his mother releases him from her care and he starts to discover the world around him. He is curious about many things and maybe he will already learn one or two things that can help him in his later life. At 14 the villager is old enough to get a job and already looks like an adult. At 18 he can start having sex (this takes place indoors so you do not see a thing) and children. He will go on with his job and have mastered it somewhere around 40. If your village is not developed far, the end of his life will already be near. If you have done a lot of medical research and enough doctors a villager can get well over 80 years old. When he dies a villager will be buried in the cemetery (if you have already discovered that). How long a game year lasts depends on the game speed you set. On the fast setting it is less than an hour.

The graphical presentation is very cute. Every villager has a different look, even later in the game you seldom see two villagers looking exactly alike. The village is also very nice looking. It is not made from repeating sprites but one big hand drawn picture. It is not static, though; there are many things that can change and some small animations. The soft drum music fits the setting very well and there are some small sound effects that enhance the atmosphere, the most memorable being the kissing sound already featured in Fish Tycoon.

Village Sim completely sucks you in. You think that you are only checking for a minute if all is going well in your village but then it took half an hour again. There were all those sick guys that had to be healed and of course you did not want to miss the end of the construction of your new hut which was already at 98%. Oh yeah, then you noticed that food was scarce so you did something about that, too. Download the demo to see if you like Village Sim. If you do, this game will give you weeks of fun.

Graphics:8.5
Sound:8.5
Gameplay:9
Creativity:10
Replay Value/Game Length:9
Final:9/10