I’ve been on holiday recently and i’ve had time to play a lot of the games on my phone as well as buying a few more such as this one. I’ve always loved playing virtual villagers on my pc so I thought i’d give it a go on my phone and see if it was still as enjoyable as I remembered.
Upon installation I noticed that the graphics weren’t nearly as good as on the pc, even with my 720p phone screen this initial impression only grew the more I played through the game with certain objects looking much worse than everything else around it such as the “sharp tools” which you create. It was like they (and the rest of the game) had anti-aliasing of 5000 or more with the edges being feathered into the rest of the game making everything look dull. I also noticed that the game seemed stretched and out of proportion due to the villagers looking very very thin and tall as well as a few other landmarks around the map. This isn’t really shown through the screenshots as they are displayed bigger on your pc screen due to the pixel density. Another graphical glitch I found was when the children were playing in the dirt next to the mausoleum their heads came off and floated above their bodies which I often mistook for the valuables that randomly appear around the map, mainly due to the low graphics quality.
The music and sound effects were nice overall, with a tropical Hawaiian theme playing in the background and simple yet effective sound effects when touching and moving villagers. I preferred to have my own music playing after awhile though so I disabled the music which was easy to do from the menu. While changing this I also sped up the game to 2x the speed because it was pretty slow to watch my new civilization progress.
The game play is quite challenging and interesting, not to mention unique. You’ve really got to use your brain to work out some of the later puzzles such as healing the tree of life and pruning it’s branch which requires you to invent cutting tools, leather and soap as well as a little research before attempting this and then using them all in the right order. Although there is an online guide if you do manage to find yourself wondering how to accomplish a task which I had to refer to fairly often.
This isn’t a game that you can play non-stop for hours as well, unless you enjoy watching your villagers walking back and forward collecting food and constructing houses. I found myself playing it for a few hours straight the first time and them checking up on them every day to see if they’ve all died yet, which is what occasionally happened. I love the mechanic that keeps the game going even when your not playing it, it’s not literally running in the background, but instead it checks the time since you played it last and then calculates everything next time you log in such as food collected, tech points accumulated etc. Although this could lead to some abuse by changing the phone’s time and skipping ahead if you don’t want to watch them performing their tasks.
The game was surprisingly hard, especially trying to keep your food above 400 to stop the villagers worrying about it, when this happened they often stopped what they were doing and walked to stare at the food bin and how low it was… Instead of actually getting food from the berry bush and the trees. This was very annoying when it happened as you had to constantly drag the villagers back onto the resource to get them to start collecting it again. The same applied to any main skill, if the person was inadequate in a task they had to perform and they failed often, the villager simply quit the job and started roaming around the village doing nothing.
This could have been a fantastic little game if they concentrated on the graphics and the controls more, it’s only just scraping satisfactory at the moment but considering what it could have been: HD retina graphic goodness, it’s a shame to see such a great concept go down the drain purely because they probably wanted to port it to android in a hurry for additional income. Although I must give it to them, there was a significant difference from “Virtual Villagers 2” which looked horrendous compared to number 4, which I must congratulate them on. I loved how the environment changed based on what you did throughout the game, such as letting the river flow through your town making it look much better and slowly but surely healing the tree of life.
The collectible items are also displayed on the map after you retrieve them with a child which give you bonus tech points if you’ve already collected them before. This is one of the only features that keeps the game interesting early on, as your always scouring the map for the items to collect each set, although it’s a pain when you find one and by the time you bring a child to it, it’s already disappeared.
I wish they had spent a little more time on this game specifically in the graphics department and didn’t just port it over from pc for the money, but otherwise it’s a pretty addictive game that wastes time for when your waiting in lines, or even traffic lights.
Here’s the final score out of 100%:
Fun Rating: 75%
(Colors are matched to the Legend below)
The bluer the better.
0% – 24% = Hopeless Game, Definitely not worth buying! if you have it sell it now while its worth something!
25% – 49% = Terrible Game, This game will not prove to be very enjoyable, and may only be played once and forgotten.
50% – 59% = Average Game, A very mediocre game that you may play occasionally to pass time but doesn’t prove to be very enjoyable.
60% – 69% = Nice Game, A game you would play once or twice to see how it is, but ultimately lacks replay-ability and immersion.
70% – 79% = Brilliant Game, This game would satisfy your gaming needs for a very long time but would eventually be forgotten over time.
80% – 89% = Fantastic Game, A very fun game that proves time and time again to be enjoyable and addictive.
90% – 99% = Amazing Game, Extremely Enjoyable and has lots of replay-ability content, as well as pushing the boundaries for future games.
100% = Epic Game, Go and buy 20 copies right now! (In-case there’s a nuclear war and they get destroyed)