Wild Tribe is a Virtual Villagers-style strategy game where you must care for a desert island tribe by helping them build things, gather food and water, defend themselves, grow and make new discoveries. Instead of people, though, your tribe consists of creatures called “wobblies” that can evolve into different animals. While it’s a cute twist, Wild Tribe doesn’t have the same level of depth as some of its contemporaries.
As adorable as they are, wobblies can’t actually do very much except breed (which is done tastefully by dragging one wobbly onto another one), but they do have the unique ability to evolve into one of five different animals who can each perform a different function in the tribe. Gorillas are builders, elephants gather water, giraffes gather food, zebras are doctors who can heal sick tribe members, and lions can fight off invading hyenas.
Your goal is to maintain a bustling, self-sufficient tribe capable of fending for itself and getting enough to eat and drink. To do this you’ll have to thoroughly explore the map to find all the secrets it has to offer. By combining certain raw materials you can make tools for building, certain plants and roots can be harvested as medicine, and collecting randomly-appearing treasure map pieces yield the key to an even bigger secret.
Wild Tribe uses a point-and-click interface where you simply click on a tribe member to select it, then drag it over to the object on the map that you want it to interact with. There are also many helpful keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate around the map screen.
Like Virtual Villagers, Wild Tribe runs in real-time by default, meaning that the game will keep going even when you shut it off. You can also pause the game by pressing the space bar, which I would recommend you doing – at least in the early stages. I once left my Tribe unattended overnight only to come back the next morning to find that most of them had passed away from various diseases.
Wild Tribe is fairly open-ended. Typically, if you start a tribe member on a task they’ll keep doing it until you tell them differently. They do require some supervision though, because sometimes they’ll flake out or wander off. There are 18 discoveries to make in Wild Tribe, and the game ends once you’ve found everything.
The use of animals instead of people in Wild Tribe is a fun twist, especially the way the water carriers, being elephants, sucked up the water with their trunks, or how the giraffes used their long necks to gather nuts from the tallest trees.
When compared to other strategy games, however, Wild Tribe just doesn’t have the same amount of depth in terms of places to explore, random events, and discoveries to make. The game’s pace is quite slow, and you can end up spending a lot time just waiting for something to get built, or trying to train a tribe member up to a certain level of expertise so you can move onto the next task. I also found myself wishing for a way to select multiple tribe members at a time; for example, to select all 10 of my builders and tell them to start building the next structure.
If you like these types of games, then by all means, give Wild Tribe a try. It’s also a good bet for people find strategy games a bit intimidating and want a simpler game to ease themselves in to the genre. Veterans, though, might find the game a little too shallow.