After numerous updates, the GodFinger formula is finally gets closer to heaven
A few weeks back, ngmoco did a surprising thing. They wiped every trace of their popular social game GodFinger from the App Store. This may sound quite puzzling, but it was a necessity. After all – how else would they make room for the new and improved GodFinger All Stars?
Replacing their earlier GodFinger on the App Store, GodFinger All Stars represents the latest update to the GodFinger formula. And while a lot has changed since we originally reviewed GodFinger back in April, a lot has stayed the same too.
GodFinger All Stars brings a number of new things to the table, including the fresh items and goals that we’ve grown accustomed to in previous content updates. What really sets All Stars apart, however, is the addition of follower stars and a mini-game.
Follower stars appear whenever a follower is exposed to a wonder. Power up a farm with a sunbeam, for example, and anyone working that farm will release some stars. Tap on these to catch them, and they’ll go towards levelling up your follower. This in turn will give that follower more gold bonuses.
The mini-game, inspired by titles like Doodle Jump, is initiated whenever you toss a follower into a rainbow. Once started, players guide an ever-bouncing follower from cloud to cloud. The longer you survive without missing a cloud, the higher you’re climb. The higher you climb, the better the rewards. Followers will be able to collect both gold and follower stars by landing on the right clouds. If you manage to get good at the mini-game, the end result can total a tidy sum. Collecting your winnings costs you one awe point, which is a much kinder choice than being charged an awe point to play. After all, if you miss one of your first clouds and end the game after only seconds, you can pass on your winnings and save the point.
One of our biggest complaints with the original release was that money didn’t really accrue at an acceptable speed. After all – you can’t build a tent to rejuvenate followers without cash, and you can’t make cash without rejuvenated followers. The additions in All Stars do a great deal to resolve our earlier frustrations in this regard.
Where things haven’t changed, however, is in the constant need to micro-manage every single follower in the game. Other social games can keep chugging along in the background for a day or two while you attend to your real life, but GodFinger? Your workers are still only going to put in a short period of work before reaching exhaustion. The same goes for your buildings. You’ll need to recharge them both on a regular basis if you don’t want your planet to grind to a standstill.
Despite some of the core complaints we had with the original remaining, there’s enough new content in All Stars to turn the GodFinger experience from drudgery to delight. If you weren’t sold on the game the first time around, consider this latest version well worth a look.
GodFinger – Our review at launch
When ngmoco first announced that they were teaming up with Wonderland Software to make a god game, we were more than a little excited. Wonderland Software is made up of developers that had previously worked on Black & White, a wonderfully enjoyable god game for the PC. With such pedigreed developers involved, it’s hard to believe that things could go wrong – but somehow Godfinger manages to miss the mark when it comes to fun.
As the god of a tiny planet, you’ll be responsible for the daily lives of your followers. You’ll build farms for them to work on, taverns for them to relax in, and control a variety of weather-related phenomenon to impress your peasants with. On paper this sounds like the makings of a tried-and-true god game, but the execution ends up feeling more like a typical Facebook farming experience than it does Populous or Virtual Villagers.
When you look past all the window dressing, Godfinger is really just about putting your peasants to work, collecting gold from their jobs, and using that gold to buy more places for them to work. It’s the standard ‘lather, rinse, repeat’ cycle that we enjoy on Facebook. But as we’ve discovered in ngmoco’s other social release, We Rule, the Facebook formula still doesn’t translate that well to the iPhone.
That’s not to say that Godfinger is as bland an experience as We Rule. Unlike that largely menu-based affair, there’s much more hands-on gameplay to be found here. You’ll need to drag your followers around and drop them on new assignments, drag them to places they can relax when they’re tired, and control an assortment of cool god-like powers. Sun, lightning, rain – you control it all. You can even use your terraforming powers to create valleys, and then flood those valleys to make lakes for your followers to fish in.
Every little feature in Godfinger is fun to discover and play with, but quickly becomes little more than another entry on your chore list. Want to get that fountain working? It’s powered by rain. Want to get that stable up and running? Drag the sun over and dish out some light. Godly powers amount to little more than fuel in Godfinger– and you’ll need to be fuelling up your buildings a lot.
For a game that’s designed to be ‘in play’ even when you’re not around (again – think Facebook games like FarmVille), your buildings and followers sure get worn out fast. Return to your game after only a few hours and you’ll find that all work has stopped. Your followers refuse to work due to exhaustion, and your buildings have quickly run out of power. Getting your followers energy back means sitting them in a tent, in front of a fountain, or in a tavern for a lengthy period of time. If you have 9 followers, expect 6 of them to be too tired to work at any given moment. It’s a frustrating experience.
Ever since the game was first announced, people have been wondering how Godfinger would stack up when compared to Bolt Creative’s Pocket God. Both games fall into the god game genre, and both games are on the iPhone – so it should stand to reason that the two should have a lot in common, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Pocket God is a game with tons to do, but very little incentive. Godfinger is a game with plenty of incentive, but not a lot to do. We loved that Godfinger actually made us feel like we were caring for our people and gave us goals to accomplish, but the people lacked the independence to do anything on their own. At least in Pocket God there was a seemingly endless supply of wacky tricks to play on your followers — everything you do in Godfinger just feels like an obligation.
If Godfinger played less like a babysitter and more like the high omnipotent deity game that the title suggested, it would be an easy recommend to anyone. Charming visuals and smooth controls make it a joy to play. But controlling each and every villager’s every action, coddling their poor tired bodies on a never-ending basis? It’s an experience that grows tired far too quickly.