Somebody has to set today’s fashion trends. In Fashionista, you’re put in charge of the glamorous Fashionista magazine, a premium fashion publication that aspires to inspire good taste. If you can’t get enough of the fashion game genre, but want a game that allows you to take your time and be creative, this is a title that might interest you.

Lilly Chan is your advisor, with her ear to the ground, giving you advice as you play. Your goal is to make the magazine a success by selling as many issues as possible. It sounds challenging, but really this all boils down to following Lilly’s advice and dressing the cover model to match the current trends that she suggests.  

You start off with a view of the town, and can press and hold the left mouse button to manoeuvre your way around. It’s a bit daunting at first, since there’s a lot of shops and not all of them are marked, but eventually you get familiar with the layout.

The mall is where you’ll do the bulk of your shopping throughout the game. You need to buy from the selection of tops, bottoms, accessories, shoes, and dresses currently available. As you advance, new speciality stores also become available in town, giving you more item choices to sift through.

Once you’ve bought some clothes, your next job is to buy a building and assemble a team. You can’t really choose your location or who to hire, since everything is preselected for different levels. Once you have a building, you’ll need to find a writer, editor, photographer, and model. These can be found at their respective hiring spots and agencies. Later, as your magazine expands, you will revisit these spots to hire more people.  

After assigning your team to their proper jobs, you are ready for work! You can click the green icon with scissors in order to reach the “magazine editor.” This is where the directions get sketchy and confusing, but the actual rules are pretty simple. If you follow Lilly’s advice carefully, you should be up to par with your competitors, earning money and subscribers. If you ignore her, your sales will plummet.  

Lilly’s advice is given in a newsletter, and will include hot colors and styles that you should incorporate for best results. While you can be as creative as you’d like, you won’t be rewarded for it, so your best bet is to stick with what she says.

You click and drag clothing items (which you’ve previously purchased from the mall or shops) onto the model to dress her. Once she’s clothed, you can change the colors and shades of her outfit and accessories by using a sliding color palate. It can be tricky getting the right color (especially white at the bottom), and I wasn’t always sure if the game wanted a specific shade or not. For example, a shade between yellow and orange could be seen as both or neither of these, so it’s difficult to say what the game engine would qualify as success.   

Once you are satisfied with your creation, you can set your price and publish the magazine. Depending on your success, you’ll be given more cash, which you can use to eventually expand the business, and to purchase new clothing items.

Every time you get 100,000 new subscribers, you’ll be invited to go to a fashion capital of the world (like Paris). Once at the capital, you can buy special exclusive items in the shop, and get a special reward.  

All in all, Fashionista is an impressive endeavor, especially considering the small production team. The game supports nine different languages, which is a nice touch, although there’s very little text involved in the actual gameplay.  

The graphics are good and original, and the gameplay itself is fairly unique. It’s nice to play a fashion game without any pressure, and to have the freedom to design outfits without being timed like in JoJo’s Fashion Show. It’s a lot like playing with paper dolls, and even my very young daughter enjoyed dressing the model. You can select from a huge variety of colors, giving you lots of choices for combinations.

The length is as long as you’d like it to be, since you can essentially play forever if you choose. This relaxed flexibility is also a downfall, however, since it means the game can easily start to drag after a few hours of play. You need an exceedingly large amount of cash to upgrade the real estate, and there’s no other way to earn it other than repeatedly dressing and redressing the same model – who stays in the same pose on the same cover, time after time. What starts off as lots of fun soon becomes very monotonous after several hours.

Beyond basically following directions, it’s unclear what makes the difference between high and modest success. Some item descriptions are obscure, like “flat top shoes.” It’s hard to say whether a knee-length skirt is considered “long” or “short,” and it’s impossible to tell if a 2D fabric is “sheer.” Despite these shortcomings, it’s still easy to play and advance, provided you try to do what Lilly instructs.

On the whole, Fashionista is a fun, no pressure fashion design game which allows users to shop for virtual clothing and creatively color and dress 2D models for as long as they’d ever want. However, once you’ve tired of that, it doesn’t offer much more, and gets very repetitive after several hours of play.