Sunday March 2, 2008 9:04 pm
Virtual Villagers Trilogy is Not Just for Kids
We admit it. We are addicted to the two Virtual Villagers PC games, which originate from San Francisco’s LDW (Last Day of Work Games.) Executive Producer Carla Humphrey told us that there will be a third one out in beta in a month or so. This is one of those games that appears to be created for kids, for it is fairly straightforward, but we are not so sure. They wouldn’t have the patience.
Although you can speed up the scenarios, it is still played in real time, sort of. Twenty two minutes until the next crop is ready to harvest seems a dreadfully long time when your inhabitants are starving. The game can be played in Easy, Normal, and Difficult for leisure gaming or for those who like a challenge.
One of the most intriguing features is that the game can go on even when your computer is shut off unless you put it on pause. If you like RPGs, SIMs, or games that use your mind instead of just your trigger finger, read our review of the first two Villagers after the jump.
Virtual Villagers: A New Home (Chapter 1)
We prefer to play games without tutorials and one of the first things we learned is that if you don’t concentrate on feeding your 6 inhabitants adequately (4 adults, 2 kids,) when you get up the next morning after beginning the game, they will all be skeletons, not a pretty sight.
The key here is moderation. You can overload the game with offspring, but as soon as you do, the game creates a plague or you just can’t feed them all. You can make them all farmers, but then you are stuck in a cross between “Jurassic Park” and “Lost.” A good tip is to balance it out, but keep the research (technology) going to amass enough points to move your villagers up. This is not something you can do in a weekend.
Once you get the hang of it and your tribe is stable, you can play around with genetics. We tried to create a race of long hair blondes and wean out the follicly challenged since that was about a 180º difference. Sure enough, we began to create a race that eliminated the Dr. Phils and upped the quotient of Paris Hiltons.
VV requires you to solve certain environmental puzzles as your tribe grows. There are plenty of hints, but if you still can’t figure them out, it may be because you need a higher tech status.
Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children (Chapter 2)
The second saga is similar to the first but more interactive. There are Collections that consist of items that only virtual children can see. This is mostly a diversion to add to the participation in the game, but will up your tech points when you are close to a milestone. This sequel makes you want to take part rather than keep it as a screensaver that you attend occasionally. Kudos to LDW for the advancements in this version.
Even the graphics look better. The garden looks almost healthy (in game terms,) goals are reachable, illness and premature demise is foregone in favor of longevity and better diversity in character. We managed to save a game with one 63 year-old villager reproducing in Chapter 1, while in the second version when they get to a certain age, they develop grey hair and have a tendency to refuse. Hmmm.
LDW has a Website with a forum moderated by Carla herself. There are guides (with and without spoilers) to help you, answers to technical questions, and updates about VV3. Incidentally, LDW is also responsible for Plant and Fish Tycoon. These games also run in real time and make great screensavers.
All of them make good diversions when you want to chill. There are both Windows and Mac versions and they retail for $19.95 each at the LDW Online Store. We suggest you practice with the first two to prepare yourself for Chapter 3.
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