Just when you thought you’d sewn your last garment, affixed your last ribbon and collected your last tip from a trend-conscious customer, along comes Vogue Tales to prove that fashion-themed time management games are still lingering on the casual game scene like last year’s Spring collection on the sale rack.
The story, which unfolds as a series of colorful comic book-style panels, is basically a mash-up of several common time management game themes. Wendy, who is apparently a budding seamstress, receives a present from her Grandma on her 18th birthday that contains important trade secrets to be passed down. But before she can open the gift, thieves snatch it and run off. Wendy tracks the thieves to London, Paris and Florence to get the gift back while working in clothing shops to afford the next plane ticket. And somewhere along the way there’s a fashion show too.
The story becomes even less coherent in light of the fact that English is obviously not developer Nevosoft’s native tongue. Expect to encounter lines like "Well now, I am completely broken, and the tickets are expensive." Another thing initially threw me for a loop is that Wendy’s entourage includes two life-like walking and talking mannequins, whom she refers to as her "dummies" – it took me a while to figure out that she wasn’t just insulting two of her friends.
As for the gameplay of Vogue Tales, it’s pretty standard fare as far as fashion games go and should prove familiar to people who have already sampled titles like Fab Fashion and Fashion Rush. Each scenario takes place over the span of a workday, with the goal being to serve as many customers as possible and collect enough money to satisfy the minimum goal requirements in order to move on to the next day.
When customers arrive at the shop, your task will be to recreate the garment they desire by selecting the appropriate pattern (dresses for the ladies, jackets for the men), then clicking on the correct color of fabric to sew the clothing. If requested, you can add lace, ribbons and fur trim to the garment – a feat that is inexplicably accomplished by putting the garments into futuristic-looking tubular glass structures – add flower or diamond patterns, or grab a hat off the rack to finish off the ensemble.
If customers are kept waiting for too long they’ll get fed up and leave, but you can appease them by giving them fashion magazines to read, and later on by playing music in the shop, which is just one of the many upgrades that can be purchased in between levels. Others include new colors of fabric, additional hats and clothing patterns, and decorations for the shop such as potted plants, carpets and candles. Wendy will also automatically receive shoes that make her move faster – mercifully, she gets these early on in the game.
While the gameplay of Vogue Tales is nothing we haven’t seen before, its old-fashioned hand-drawn aesthetic, with characters that seem almost Victorian at times, is unique and rather charming. Unfortunately, though, the clothing designs themselves are hit and miss. I’m no fashion maven, but even I can sense that there’s something wrong with applying ribbon accessories to a man’s jacket. Picture if you will a wide white ribbon wrapped around the man like a sash, with two smaller ones wrapped around each wrist and a big puffy ribbon bunched at his neck. Yuck.
With only six different garments to make in six colors, with four variations and two hats (per gender), Vogue Tales also doesn’t offer the level of diversity and customization we’ve seen in other fashion games.
There are other minor complaints as well. Two colors of fabric apparently share the same spindle, which limits how many garments you can have sewing at the same time. If the spindle is sharing yellow and brown fabric, for example, and a yellow dress is in the progress of being made, you can’t start a brown jacket until the dress is finished. You also can’t immediately swap a new pattern onto a spindle without first removing the old garment, and since Wendy can only hold one thing at a time this gets a bit awkward.
The game is very good about spacing out garment requests among the three spindles, but the downside to that is the game becomes as predictable and regular as clockwork, lacking the unexpected twists that the best time management games use to keep players on their toes.
As new patterns and colors are unlocked you can play around with them in something called Attic mode, which is basically an opportunity to play dress-up and put different clothing combos onto the male and female mannequins.
When compared to its more polished and creative fashion-themed brethren, Vogue Tales across as thoroughly average save for its eye-catching art and the fact that the main character hangs out with two living mannequins, an angle that I wish the story had explored more coherently. With its manageable difficulty and stress-free Attic mode, though, the game would be a good choice for younger players.