Send joy around the world in WeTopia
WeTopia is the latest city-builder to hit Facebook, and its cartoony, quasi-3D art style is bringing with it all the standards players have come to know as well as a little bit of charity. Tying play into donations to non-profit organizations aiding children in both Haiti and the United States, the game is nothing terribly original from a design perspective, but at the very least, it is for a good cause.
WeTopia is about the same as any other city-building application as far as its core functionality and objectives go. You are given a small virtual space and with it, you must create a bustling city. Homes and bungalows are constructed to increase population and provide a steady revenue stream of rent. Along with this, the higher the population, the better commercial buildings you can make to earn even more cash. Finally, ala CityVille, businesses require “goods” to function, which are earned by planting and harvesting various crops.
Where the game differentiates itself is with another sort of currency dubbed “joy.” Generated by entertainment facilities called “joygrounds,” these structures allow you to gain joy levels, which unlocks better buildings. More importantly, however, is that for every 100 joy collected, you can go to the joy central building and “donate” it to one of several charities.
The charities are all great causes centered around children and range from providing food and medicine to improving education and housing. The way it works is fairly simple too. You merely need to pick the charity you wish to aide, and a percentage of WeTopia‘s revenue is sent to it. Moreover, there are several special items that can be garnered from quests or leveling that will be sent as well; such as liters of fresh waters.
That’s actually one of the other perks of the game. While several apps contain some semblance of a quest system to help guide the player, WeTopia‘s tends to have more interesting rewards than most. Still offering things like coins and experience, several quests come with the pleasant surprise of interesting and unique looking decorative items to place around you space.
Another place that interesting items stem from is “The Giving Tree,” which is a structure granted to you at the start of the game. Every day, it can be watered — which lets it grow — and it will potentially give a special reward that can be placed in your virtual space and produce charitable items. As an example, the first gift it grants is a “Hot Meal Tree,” and for every time a hot meal is collected (about once a day), one is donated to a charity.
On the social front, things are a bit more lackluster. Other than standard gifting, the only other play mechanic is visiting your friends’ towns and helping them to earn a little bonus cash and experience. There is also a world map that supposedly shows how much players have collectively contributed to charities around the world, but unfortunately, this does not seem to function yet.
WeTopia is a decidedly average game that plays well, but doesn’t do anything dramatically different from the norm. The inclusion of joy is a nice touch though, and the fact that it is tied into non-profit charity work is a nice perk, as it gives players the feeling that they are making at least a small difference.