“ Genre: Strategy / Published by LDW Software „
~ Game Introduction ~
Virtual Villagers 5 is the fifth game of the popular game sequel created by "Last Day Of Work". It is a village simulation game where the player controls a small village and helps for the survival of its members. The "New Believers" solves the questions that we all had in the previous games, introduces a new Tribe and adds more powers to the way that the player controls the villagers and the game.
~ The story ~
The game takes place on the island of Isola which has become the home of lost refuges. In the previous part, the chief of the tribe had sent a group of villagers to explore parts of the island that they had never been before. During their quest, they discover a strange mask at the forbidden path and bring it back to the elders of the tribe who decide to send 5 villagers to search the path and discover where that mask came from.
The game begins after a short story that connects the two parts and the player selects 5 members of his choice to assign this mission. On their way, they are captured by another tribe and they become prisoners in the hostile village at the center of the island. It seems strange that all the people of this tribe wear mysterious masks in different colours and shapes and they are referred to as the heathens in the game. It is later explained that there was a war between the people of the island and those who survived the battle lost their hope and covered their faces with masks.
The new village has totems that are guarded by the masked people and the player tries to make them find their faith and be rescued by destroying the totems and by convincing them to throw their masks.
~ Game Play ~
Virtual Villagers are played in real time and the game will continue playing even while you are away. One hour in reality is about one virtual year in the game if you play in the fast mode.
The game starts and the 5 villagers are placed in the middle of the heathen's village with a small storage place and a basic amount of food. The player needs to find a way to protect them and ensure that they find the necessities for their survival. There is a variety of members to choose from in the beginning, from young children to males and females of different ages and pregnant mothers. At this point the player must think which combination of people and skills would be the best for the survival and the quickest development of the story.
To begin with the game, you can follow a small tutorial that explains the basics. However, if you have never played Virtual Villagers before, I would suggest that you start with one of the previous parts since it doesn't have any hints on how to move the players around or what are the different actions that the kids and the adults can perform in the game. Initially, you are asked to perform some basic steps like finish building the storage building, start a fire and collect food with the children.
A new tribe of heathers is introduced in the game that limits the food and development resources available for the villagers. Through the tutorial, the player learns how each masked person reacts if the villagers go very close, for example the ones that wear the orange masks are aggressive, those covered with purple masks are harmless and carry special necklace pieces on their masks that you need to collect, the red masked people are scary while those with the blue masks are apathetic to the presence of your people and you can talk to them with the purpose to eventually believe in you.
The aim of the game is to gain access to all the areas in the village, collect the pieces of the necklace, solve the puzzles and complete milestones while you are increasing your population and ensuring the survival of your people. You must also try to persuade the heathers to become members of your tribe and throw their masks.
Most of the areas in the village are inaccessible in the beginning so you must strategically plan your actions. If you prioritise the tasks correctly, you will be able to keep the villagers alive and find all the hidden clues.
~ The villagers ~
The villagers in the game have different characters and when you select any one of the villagers, you can see the name, skill and action that is performed at that time. There is also a detail button on the down-right corner of the screen that transfers the player to a display screen showing all the important information about the villager: the genre, age, health, the technical skills that he has acquired by completing different tasks in the game and the likes and dislikes of each individual.
Children do not work until the age of 14 but they are extremely useful to pick up mushrooms for food and discover collectibles that appear on the ground during the gameplay.
To select a villager, you simply need to click on him and drag him to the specific location that you want to move him.
~ Train the villagers to gain skills ~
This is one of the main purposes in order to solve the puzzles in this game. There are six different skills that every person can reach during the game:
* Farming: The farming skill is acquired from farming, gathering food and fishing. Collecting food is necessary to keep the population alive ad healthy.
* Building: This skill is gained by performing jobs like building huts, constructing statues and demolishing the enemy's totems. Training your villagers to become Master builders is important as they are later required to solve some of the puzzles.
* Research: Villagers can do research in the laboratory to increase this skill meter. Through researching you also collect the tech points required to buy technologies and increase the level of specialty.
* Healing: Healing skill shows the ability of the villagers to heal others when they feel sick. The skill level is also increased by studying medicine in the hospital.
* Parenting: It is developed by having children, embracing others and telling stories to children.
* Devotion: It comes from practicing the religion, honoring the statue, celebrating and converting blue masked people to villagers by speaking to them.
Each skill has 3 levels depending on the training and the experience that indicates how efficient they are when they perform a job related to the acquired skill. The levels are Trainee, Adept and Master. Some tasks that need to be completed in the game need Mastery of at least one villager in specific skills.
~ God Powers ~
In this game, the player owns impressive god-like powers that can be unlocked gradually by finding collectibles. When an action is performed, the energy meter shown on the top right of the main screen drops and it can be refilled with time or by collecting duplicate items. For example, you are offered with the lighting strike power, the ability to instantly grow corps, to change the weather, release bees on a specific target etc.
The members of your tribe believe on you and the faith meter indicates how strong their faith is. As the "God" of the tribe you can plan their activities, drag and drop your characters onto places and make them perform actions.
~ Puzzles and Milestones ~
There are no levels in the game, but as you progress you complete milestones. There are 12 milestones available for the whole game, in the beginning they are easy (like build your first hut etc.) but then they get complicated and you might need several days to achieve the next milestone.
~ Graphics and Sound ~
The game environment is placed in the middle of the jungle therefore it is limited to a small area. The weather changes in real time with great, cute graphics. There are different seasonal variations simulated in the game like rain, sunshine, fog and clouds.
The sound is good and you have the option to put 5 different songs in the playlist. It blends with the gameplay perfectly and I forget that it's playing in the background but it's also pleasant and relaxing to listen to.
~ My opinion ~
It's a challenging game based on strategy and judgement. I love strategy games and I found this one very addictive. There are many parallel tasks you need to complete that keep the interest high. However, there were a few times that I was stuck in the game and I needed to check online for a walkthrough. This is not the purpose of the game but it was impossible for me to find some of the tricks! I started the game over four times to get to the point where I could produce enough food and resources to keep my villagers alive. The first two times I didn't choose the correct analogy of villagers and they soon run out of food and started weakening and eventually died. From what I read later on, there is a pattern in everything and if you follow it you can win the game quickly. That wasn't my intention as I like discovering the secrets by myself so I cheated only in the beginning and checked the spoilers to start the game correctly. After this, my villagers died one more time when I forgot the game running in real time during the night and the next day I found my people starving to death.
I still haven't finished all the puzzles and milestones as it's a bit slow and when I leave home or at night I pause the game. There is also an option to change the game speed between slow, normal and fast. I am playing in the fast speed but even now it develops quite slowly.
The full game currently costs £13.70 in the official site: www.virtualvillagers.com .
But it's also available on other sites from £6.99 .
~ Overall ~
It's an interesting game that requires good strategy and thinking ahead. I thoroughly recommend it for those who enjoy playing simulations games.
_This review is also posted on ciao under my username "sweetybi"_
This game has been my latest addiction "Virtual Villagers 5, New Believers" having completed all the others in the series, I was really pleased to find the latest addition had been released. I wasted no time in buying and downloading it so I could get started with my next set of little villagers.
This series of games are played in real time, you point click and drag to operate these games. They are all pretty much the same, but with each newly released game, comes just that little bit extra, drawing you in even more than the last game did.
--Virtual Villagers 5 New Believers created by Last Day of Work.--
So, the villagers are back on the island of "Isola" for the fifth time, but there's a difference this time. The village has been over taken by heathens so you have got to help your villagers convert the heathens to your way of thinking, you have to work on all of them in turn, until they believe in you and become part of your little tribe of villagers.
Virtual villagers 5 is a one player strategy game, played in real time. You play god in a way, as you control what they do and when they do it.
Once you have your game installed and ready to play, You will be shown a screen where you can choose a name for your tribe and type it in. Then you get the chance to pick 5 villagers of your choice, varying in age and sex. It is advisable to choose very carefully as you have to take into consideration, only villagers over the age of 14 years can work, but only villagers under the age of 14 years can pick mushrooms and collect items. You also have to think about having both male and female villagers so they can reproduce, you need your tribe to be as large as possible. Don't pick villagers that are too old, as they wont be much use for long.
Once you have chosen your villagers, you will then be greeted with a cut scene telling you the story so far, and letting you know exactly what has happened and how and why the villagers are where they are.
You start on the menu screen, this consists of 6 options and the name you chose for your tribe.
OPTION 1 Change tribe. This is an option if you want to have more than one tribe going at a time, or if someone else wants to play with their own tribe.
OPTION 2 Options. This takes you to a screen where you can change settings like volume for voiceovers, music and sounds. There are four different sound tracks that are played continuously throughout the game and here you can choose how many of them you want, to accompany the game. You can opt for full screen or not. Then finally the game speed, PAUSE, SLOW, NORMAL and FAST.
OPTION 3 Play. This takes you straight on to your game which will (unless you paused) have been playing without you.
OPTION 4 Help. This is a quick guide you can refer to any time for a bit of guidance.
OPTION 5 Quit. This shuts the game but doesn't loose anything as they game plays without you, unless you've paused.
OPTION 6 Start over. This, you will only need to use if you make a complete mess of things and you want to start right from the beginning.
On the game screen itself you can get to the menu screen any time you choose, there are also options to view:
The map, this is an over view of your whole village.
Collections, this is a screen showing all the items you have managed to collect, in this particular game these consist of 3 different categories, Scientific, Necklace and Relics.
Tech, this shows you the amount of tech points you need in order to purchase higher levels of achievement in the 6 different areas of skill, which are: SCIENCE, MEDICINE, LEARNING, CONSTRUCTION, FOOD MASTERY and SPIRITUALITY.
On the opposite side of this screen, is what I call the hand of god as it holds all the god powers you have managed to unlock. There are 11 god powers in all and you will need to use them throughout the game, but this will become clear as you play.
Trophies, this is a huge list of things for you to complete as you play the game, you don't have to do all of these but it makes the game more fun, if you try and attempt to complete as many as possible.
Puzzles, This is the main object of the game, it shows you a screen with 16 different milestones that you need, to complete the game. These are more difficult than you might think and take a fair amount of time.
Also on the main game screen is a statistics box, this will show the statistics of whichever villager you have selected, to select a villager, you just click on to him and he will be circled, so you can see which one it is, as a lot of them look the same. You will also see a faith meter letting you see which villagers have your faith and which do not, they are the ones you have to work on.
As you play, the villagers will gain different skills, which are as follows:
Scientist: Researching will get you a scientist.
Builder: Building huts, constructing statues and knocking down totems will get you a builder.
Doctor: Researching medicine will get you a doctor. You will need doctors to heal villagers if and when they become sick.
Farmer: Gathering and collecting food will get you a farmer.
Parent: Making babies male and female will get you a parent.
Devotee: Honoring the sacred statue will get you a devotee.
You will need masters, in all these fields to help you progress into the game and the more work they do in any particular field the better they become. All fields consist of Trainee, Adept and Master. The idea is to get as many masters in all fields as you can. To do this you must make them do the job you choose, and if they walk away keep putting them back, make them do it and eventually, they will continue to do whatever you want them to do on their own.
You need to build huts, the more huts you build, the bigger the population you can have. In order to make your population bigger you need to have built a "love hut" this is where your villagers will go to make a baby villager. You will need to throw a male at a female or vise versa (that are both of age) and they will both enter the hut, if you are lucky the female will leave the hut with a baby, this is not always the case though, so if you desperately want another villager then keep throwing them at each other until the female has her baby. She will then ne nursing for around 2 hours real time, but you can speed up the game and she only nurses for half the time. When she eventually puts the child down, it will be 2 years old and able to help the other children, to collect things and pick mushrooms.
You have to find ways of keeping your villagers food supply at a decent amount, or you could start losing them, due to starvation. The further along in the game you get, the more ways of obtaining food, become available. Mushrooms will pop up all over the place, it is only a child who can pick these and take them to the food hut, to add to the food already gathered. Only a child can collect relics and scientific items.
Any villager over the age of 14 years can work, you need tech points to progress in the game, so make sure you get your little villagers researching as soon as their old enough, the more you have researching the faster you will gain the precious tech points.
Added to this particular Virtual Villagers game are the heathens, these characters are basically just villagers with masks on. Another task you have to do is to convert them all over to your tribe. When you have worked out how to convert each different colored masked heathen, they loose their masks and join your tribe as an extra member. The heathens make the game a little more difficult, at times they will make your villagers drop food that they have collected, which will then disappear and you will loose that food, this is frustrating near the start of the game when you are trying to build up your food supply. They also scare the children and they will drop anything they have picked up or collected.
The game has many tasks and puzzles for you to complete, you will occasionally be met with a notice, that will appear on the screen, explaining a situation a villager has got themselves into and you will have to choose which way you think, they should deal with the given situation. If you choose right you are rewarded with food or tech points. If you choose wrong then any number of things could happen i.e.: You could cause a swarm of something nasty to attack the village or a villager could become ill as a consequence.
The game is endless, with loads of different things to do. It is suitable for any age group to play.
The game download cost me £5.39 from Big Fish Games but can be bought and downloaded from a number of different websites. Prices may vary.
--My experience playing the game--
I first found out about "Virtual Villagers" games a few years ago, when I was checking out the games on my laptop. I saw the first Virtual villagers game and decided to give it a try, it was free to play so I started the game up. I was hooked, I played for hours accomplishing lots of different things. When I returned to play the next day, the little villagers were busy doing what I'd set them to do. The game was amazing to play I loved it. But, to my horror when I came back for the third time to play I was greeted with a message that told me I had used up my free credits and I would now have to purchase the game from them. It cost an absolute fortune to buy, so I declined, devastated because I had already done so much, and would have to start again.
So I decided to buy the game from somewhere else. I did, in due course buy each game as they came out. So when it came to number 5 there was no exception, I immediately downloaded and started to play.
As soon as I started, I knew that was it, I had to keep going and try to do as much as I could as quickly as I could. The game is highly addictive and I found myself loading up the game every morning to check what the little villagers were up to. I quickly realized, if I left the game for to long, all sorts of things happened and I would find myself having to sort things out that had got out of control. That's why having the pause option is very useful, none of the previous games gave you this option. However it is best to keep them going if you can, as some tasks seem to take forever to complete and it helps that they keep going even if you want a break. I had to remember to put the game on slow each night, so they could continue to build and research while I was sleeping.
I was fascinated with the weather changes in the game, when there is a sudden downpour all the little villagers run for cover and it is very comical to watch. The colors on the game are really bright and vivid, and the backdrop is beautiful, with subtle soundtracks that just, in my opinion add to the beauty of the game. There are no glitches of any kind in this game, the whole thing runs like a dream.
I cannot fault this wonderful little game, I have completed all that I had to do in the game, it took me around a week, but it still continues to play away to itself, as there are still things I can do if I choose to. I can go back any time to check up on how my little villagers are doing, on their beautiful little island of Isola.
I give this game 5 stars because it's the fifth in the series and the best by far.
Thank you for reading my review which may also appear on Ciao