If you’re roaming around and happen to see a giant, ominous shaft of light appear emanating from far off in the distance, the general rule of thumb is to steer clear. While ignoring this seemingly obvious safety precaution does not bode particularly well for the gaggle of curious townspeople in Gemini Lost, such foolishness is entertaining and rewarding for the omniscient overseer who invisibly influences them in their daily routines. That’s you, by the way.

All the trouble starts when a gaggle of youth (conveniently made up of three guys and three gals) first stumble upon an unexpected solar eclipse and then witness an even stranger occurrence where the eclipse lines-up with the Gemini constellation.

The resulting beam of light is too alluring to pass up, and their investigation into its source uncovers a strange wheel-like artifact with the signs of the zodiac inscribed in it. Messing around with the device, the kids find themselves accidentally teleported to another world. Making matters worse, the magical artifact that transports them there erupts, scattering many pieces across the lands and stranding the unfortunate adventurers.

These lost souls have little choice but to build their own village from scratch and seek to recover the missing pieces needed to repair the artifact and teleport back home. Unfortunately for the original colonists, they won’t live long enough to see their mission through, but some day their great, great, great, great grandchildren will ultimately succeed. It’s your job to gradually nudge generation after generation towards this ultimate goal, which provides the crux of Gemini Lost‘s gameplay. Reaching this lofty objective isn’t nearly as spectacular as the sense of fun and accomplishment you’ll gain from reaching each milestone along the way.

Starting with a handful of villagers, you’ll assign them various important tasks based on their predispositions. Some like to mine ore and chop wood. Others prefer to grow vegetables and go fishing. You’ll also encounter crafty villagers who build structures and brainy residents who dabble in science and knowledge. By design, these are all tasks that keep the well-oiled machine of your town thriving. Doling out work both improves you’re villagers’ skills and gives you the precious resources required to expand your village. Neglect any particular tasks for too long, and order starts to break down.

There’s a lot more do to than just toil away at manual labor. Only a small portion of the map is initially accessible, so it becomes important to send your citizens out to interact with the land when they’re not immediately involved in some rigorous task. You’ll uncover critters to help, stuff to build, items to collect, and puzzles to solve. Overcoming these interesting obstacles leads to new developments in your budding civilization, opens up access to additional areas to explore, and provides a needed break from the mundane micromanagement of resource gathering.

Life goes on in Gemini Lost, even when you’re not playing it. Residents slowly grow old and will eventually die. It’s a huge bummer when an experienced villager bites the dust, but this is something you must accept early on. Fortunately, there’s a way to let you combat the inevitable and keep your settlement from collapsing. Citizens can pick a spouse (based on their astrological sign compatibility), get married, and produce offspring that eventually grow old enough to pick up tasks. This cycle continues around the clock, unless you pause the game.

Scientific research unlocks ways to extend their lives, though it’s a temporary solution. Be a good steward of your people, and they’ll continue to spread their genes and allow future generations to continue the path of progression, even if the original goal seems a little pointless by the time you reach it.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Gemini Lost borrows liberally from the Virtual Villagers series. The zodiac theme is new, but pretty much everything else about the game design and concept is similar. However, the developers really run with the concepts they’ve borrowed and ultimately deliver a tight, enjoyable experience. The visual flourishes, character animations, and colorful scenery are also superior to many similar titles out there.

Gemini Lost can be dangerously addictive, though there isn’t much reason to return to it once you’ve completed the game. That said, there are scores of tasks to accomplish that truly make you feel like the hard work you’ll pour into keeping your townspeople alive and well is worth the effort. Ultimately, this is what will keep you coming back until the job is done.