Ever wondered what it’s like to take care of a unicorn? How about a three-headed Cerberus dog? You’ll look after these wondrous creatures and more in Magical Forest, an upcoming title from 3 Blokes Studios and iWin that combines elements of monster ranching, Virtual Villagers-style resource management and real-time strategy in a fantasy-themed package.

The Magical Forest is home to many wonderful creatures, but it’s in danger of being destroyed by the Chainmaw Logging Company. In order to save the forest you must raise 1,000,000 gold pieces to buy it back from the loggers. Before that can happen, however, you’ll need to discover all the different species that live in the forest so that you can raise the creatures and sell the resources they produce to raise the cash.

An overhead map marks your progress as you move through the forest, and shows you which creatures you’ve discovered. The “forest” screen is where the action takes place. You’ll start with one creature, and as it ambles the forest it will produce resources that are unique to its species. You can collect these resources by clicking on them, and then sell them by clicking the appropriate icon at the top of the screen.

To discover a new species, you must gather a certain amount of gold and resources. For example, to unlock the Leaf Fuzzy you need 400 gold, 7 grass resources and 20 water resources. In turn, you need a Grass Fuzzy to produce the grass and a Water Fuzzy to make the water.

You’ll start off with simple animals like Fuzzies, but will eventually move on to more sophisticated animals like Cerberus, unicorns and hydra. Typically, each new animal takes more resources to unlock than the last, which means your collection of creatures will always be growing and changing.

Creatures will become hungry and need to be fed whenever a berry icon appears over their heads. Enemies also appear regularly to threaten the creatures, and if you let them get too close they might even hurt them. You can whack enemies with your weapon to get rid of them by repeatedly clicking on the enemy with the mouse.

By defeating enemies and collecting presents that randomly appear, you earn experience points that will eventually cause your creatures to level up. When this happens, you get a skill point that can be spent improving the creature’s productivity (so that it makes two or three resources at a time instead of one), or decreasing its hunger so that it asks for food less often.

You’ll also need to keep an eye out for special icons to click on that award you “helper points.” There are three machines in the game that can be purchased and upgraded once you’ve earned enough helper points and will help you care for the creatures. The Defender will automatically attack enemies, the Feeder gives food to hungry creatures, and the Collector gathers resources for you. The helpers aren’t very sophisticated machines, however, and are operated by a wind-up key. You’ll have to click on them to give the key a turn every so often so they don’t wind down and stop.

Quests will pop up from time to time that might ask you to collect at least 5 presents before the timer runs out, not let any creatures get hurt for two minutes, or use a fire spell to melt away ice growths in the forest. Quests are optional, but if you complete them you’ll get a nice reward.

Besides the forest, the other place you’ll be visiting often is the shop, which is accessed from the map screen. There, you can buy and sell creatures, purchase food, upgrade your weapon from a stick to more impressive daggers, swords and maces, and buy spells that can heal your creatures if they get hurt, attack multiple enemies at the same time, and slow enemies down.

Whether it’s gathering resources, buying new creatures (or strategically selling others), managing food, scouting for presents, defending your creatures from harm or overseeing your helpers, Magical Forest offers plenty of different tasks to keep you occupied. The game will be launching in a few weeks, so stay tuned to Gamezebo for our in-depth review and strategy guide.