Virtual Villagers Begins A Colony On Facebook
Last Day of Work and 3 Blokes Studios have just released a new Facebook version of their long-running Virtual Villagers casual strategy games. Derivative franchises like My Tribe have already gotten their games launched on Facebook, but Virtual Villagers may prove to be worth the wait. It plays very differently than most prior attempts at casual strategy on Facebook, working in a Zynga-style energy meter that gives structure to the gameplay.
Virtual Villagers has you go through the careful process of building up an island civilization, beginning with a few castaway villagers who may have a handful of useful talents. Early on you’ll follow a series of quests that give you a pretty good idea of how you should be growing your society, largely by doing simple things like planting trees and bushes for food and gathering up wood for building. You also build axes, a Nintendo Logical mechanic that involves axe heads that wash up on the beach.
Eventually you have enough resources to begin building shelter (in the form of shacks) and stockpiling food and wood. Your AI villagers are less obedient than their counterparts in My Tribe, sometimes dropping their work tasks due to getting bored or distracted by the island’s two enormous idols, which just beg to be worshiped when you’re otherwise tasked with gathering firewood. This often means dragging and dropping villagers onto the same task numerous times to finish it.
You can’t customize your tribe members extensively yet, but the way they level up is practical and simple to understand. A guy who is good at building gets much better as he builds things, a guy good at farming gets better at farming as he farms, like that. You seem to get new tribespeople more by random event than by breeding at this point in the game, but that may change in the future. You can build a Love Shack for your tribe, after all.
Virtual Villagers is fun to play so far, with very appealing 2D graphics that feel a bit like what you’d see in your average Playfish game. Your island feels big but not too big and gameplay isn’t as much of a scroll-fest as it tends to be in a lot of casual strategy games on Facebook. Of course, even casual strategy games are deep and with Virtual Villagers, it’s hard to do more than just scratch the surface of the game at this point.