Virtual Villagers

By Shamus
on Oct 30, 2006
Filed under:
Game Reviews

This weekend Virtual Villagers caught my eye. I remembered The Rampant Coyote mentioning this game back in August, and so I grabbed it more or less on impulse.

Virtual Villagers Title Screen

Virtual Villagers Techs
The tech ladder. My one quibble: FISHING is more advanced than FARMING?!? That is very, very backwards, particularly for island natives.
It’s an interesting game. I was expecting a sort of “Sim City on a micro scale”, but that isn’t what I got. This game is a lot like the “take care of your pet” games, a style that is common enough that there ought to be a genre name for it. You start off with a group of a half-dozen villagers and a few huts, and you must guide them into a flourishing community. There is no save / load system, where you could go back and correct an earlier mistake. The game just runs. If you exit the game and come back later, time will have passed in the game world.

I can see how these sorts of games are intended to be played: You’re supposed to check in on them periodically, and spend maybe five minutes playing every hour or so. I don’t usually care for this sort of thing myself, but it’s a popular game type and I can understand why some people find it appealing. It’s more nurturing than managerial, and more casual than in-depth. My problem is that after five minutes I want to keep playing but there really isn’t anything left to do.

There is a simple tech system, where you can research better ways of living to make larger populations possible. The first group of villagers start off in their early 20’s with little job knowledge. The more a person does a particular job the better they get, so it makes sense to specialize. Eventually they get old and die.

There are also a number of goals, or landmark events that you can reach, but you don’t know what they are ahead of time. This sounds annoying, but it’s actually pretty engaging. There are bits of the environment you don’t know what to do with, and goals which you know are there but don’t know what they are or how to reach them. I found myself experimenting with the environment, trying to get the villagers to examine different things and see how they might be used.

It’s an amusing game.

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6Six comments, I think. Maybe half a dozen.

From the Archives:

  1. Bonnie says:

    My mom (67 yo) is addicted to virtual villagers. We like to refer to her addiction as spending time with the village people.

  2. Pixy Misa says:

    I had something like that on my Palm.

    My villagers always died. :(

  3. David V.S. says:

    If you want a blend of this genre and an RTS, I have several extra copies of Cultures 2 in the closet, which I picked up cheap for a LAN party that nevery happened.

    In the big picture, Cultures 2 is an RTS where you gather resources and spend them in an appropriately balanced way on your town and your military.

    But in the small-scale game Cultures 2 is not like any other RTS I know. You raise each viking from infancy. You know their names, benefit as each gains work experience in certain areas, and otherwise specialize them.

    It’s a bit slow for and adult to play single-player. An elementary school age kid might like it a lot. For multi-player it’s okay.

  4. Taylor says:

    I want to no how to fix it not all a bout it!

  5. Holly says:

    i made a FAMILY THEN WHEN IS HAVING THIER GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDCHILD THE HALF OF THE FAMILY DIED!

    ( nERD)

  6. ROSE says:

    MY VILLEGERS NEVER DIED…. SOME DIED…. I HATE THIS GAME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

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