Think it’s easy to start a new town and attract residents and businesses alike? Put your mayoral skills to the test with HappyVille: Quest for Utopia, a new city building sim from Gogii Games. While we like the tried-and-true premise — plus it adds a personal touch by giving residents names and desires — but frankly, the game feels unfinished because a handful of random issues that mar the overall experience.
HappyVille begins with a blank slate, a plot of land you can call your own. Not unlike the classic SimCity and many of the newer city building-based casual games, you’ll lay down houses, erect some businesses, connect some roads between the two and watch as residents start flocking in. You must also build farms (but don’t put them too close to homes or residents will complain about the smell) and construct some civic buildings, too (such as schools, police stations and hospitals — and staff them accordingly).
Providing you have enough tax dollars left over, you can also drop some decorations down in the city — such as park benches, fountains and pretty trees — in order to keep the residents happy and content. Otherwise, they might leave to live elsewhere, which isn’t good. After all, your goal is to build up your money (so you can afford fancy things like statues and monuments), evolve your small hamlet into a thriving city and keep people happy so that you win the mayoral seat against fictional opponents.
The mouse-driven interface works well for the most part, but the first problem we ran into was not being able to select what kind of business to create. You canclick on a resident who says they want a restaurant to eat at or daycare facility for their kids, but you don’t get a choice of what kind of building to create. Unless I missed something, this is a huge oversight and will likely frustrate gamers who can’t meet the requests of their townsfolk.
The second major issue seems to be an artificial intelligence (A.I.)-related one – and that is when people in your city are asking for something, like a safer neighborhood, yet they’re right beside a staffed police station. Or they’ll say they want to move into a home yet there are vacant houses nearby. And often your goal is to build something expensive, but people are moving out therefore you can’t raise enough money for the structure, which begs the question: Was this game properly tested?
Again, these shortcomings in HappVille can ruin the overall experience. And it’s too bad because the game has a lot going for it, be it challenging goals to meet, unpredictable issues to resolve, adorable cartoonish graphics, adjustable game speed and the ability to zoom in and out with the mouse’s middle scroll wheel. I also liked how you’re notified of births, deaths and people moving in or out by name (such as “Kate decided to migrate to your village!”), which adds a nice personal touch to the simulation.
But as it stands now, HappyVille: Quest for Utopia is a subpar building simulation that is sure to disappoint for its many flaws. Unless Gogii can fix these problems, we’re not too happy with HappyVille.