Last Day of Work (LDW) is well known for their tycoon games Fish Tycoon and Plant Tycoon. VillageSim is the new title in their Isola game universe and places the player in control of a number of survivors who, fleeing a disaster, arrive on a mysterious island, finding abandoned huts and a variety of puzzles to solve. Through caring for these castaways and expanding their numbers you are able to build a new village and hopefully solve a few of the mysteries along the way.
You start off with 5 castaways, all unskilled but for a novice builder. By dragging the villagers around you can put them to work and as they work at any particular task they gain experience, slowly mastering that task. While you can select preferred tasks, you also have the option of making villagers generalists, which can come in handy if you’re not too skilled at keeping them alive. For they will die, eventually, whether through old age or (as in my case) sheer neglect.
Building some houses
There are 5 jobs available to villagers – farming/fishing, research, healing, construction and everyone’s favourite – breeding. Obviously you’ll need to build up your population a bit to devote full resources to all of these and your villagers are a little innocent when it comes to breeding. It does take a reasonable amount of time to start producing children so you’ll want to get in there as soon as possible.
To give your population somewhere to live (and breed) you’ll need to build new houses. Farming (and later fishing) will gather the food you need to stop starvation. Initially there’s a bush to forage from, but there’s a suspicious field nearby and a big ocean conveniently located.
However, to access these you’ll need to indulge in research. After a significant amount of research you can advance in a number of areas, one for each job type and one for spirituality. And finally, your villages occasionally will need a doctor. Luckily a curious plant will provide a would-be healer with somewhere to start. And, if you’re lucky, some random events may provide your community with a shortcut to enlightenment, although there’s always a choice involved.
There are also twelve puzzles to solve. There are some ancient ruins, a boulder with a secret, a mysterious rock (but no Zarathustra) and a stream blocked by a small dam. And given my minimal progress to date there are no doubt more awaiting the devoted player. Solve them and your progress is recorded with your village statistics, not to mention the benefits each puzzle provides to your fledgling community.
This is all wrapped up in a very pleasant bundle. The interface is clean and straightforward and the game graphics are well drawn and pleasant on the eyes. For those with some storage space to space there’s also some nice background music and a decent (but not overwhelming) selection of sound effects. Unfortunately the sound effects can fast becoming annoying when the music is turned off, but they blend nicely while it plays.
On the downside, the pace of the game can be quite slow. As with Fish Tycoon, you’ll probably want to leave it running while you’re off participating in real life. However, if you’re like me and sometimes won’t check back for a decent period you may be in for a surprise – after a busy day at work I turned my Palm on and found all but one of my intrepid villagers had passed away, and one villager does not a growing community make. The solution is either to pause the game or slow the game speed down before leaving it, however it will slow your progress significantly. Also, the view area is limited to 320x320 – those with virtual graffiti areas will find them unutilised.
However, anyone who’s a fan of Fish Tycoon will likely find this game most involving. There’s a bit more depth, more to do and explore and players who invest the time in playing will find themselves well rewarded. And if you haven’t tried Fish or Plant Tycoon there’s never been a better time to see why these games are so popular.