It’s been a long time since I was actually sucked into a video game storyline and cared about the characters and their fates. Artist Colony did just that for me and I found myself constantly needing to play “for just a few more minutes.” Those minutes became hours until I became completely engrossed in the game, and wondered how Ben and Jack would save the colony.
Unique Storyline: Artist Colony, a new game by I-Play, has you restoring a run down, inherited artist’s colony (as the name suggests). The colony is meant to be a refuge for aspiring artists of all types including, painters, dancers, photographers, sculptors and singers. The storyline unfolds and you find yourself partnered with your estranged step-brother to help bring your family’s asset back to its previous state of flourish.
Hybrid Gameplay: At first glance, you may look at Artist Colony and say, “eh, another clone of the Sims or Virtual Villagers.” However, Artist Colony is like nothing you have ever played before. It’s like a simulation, but not really; it’s like a time management game, but not really; in fact there are so many “not really’s” I could list that I would have to conclude that Artist Colony is in a class of its own. From a top down perspective you must manage not only the restoration of the colony but of the needs of the residents as well. This may run anywhere from feeding them when they are hungry (which brings the concept of “starving artist” to a whole new level), to having them take a nap when they are tired, or even clearing out the debris so more studios can be opened.
Manageable Task List: From the start of the game it is quite clear that the place has been abandoned for a long period time, so your first tasks will be to clear the place out and open up the studios for business. Then you can train your various artists so they can begin producing art for your gallery. The higher the training level, the better art they can produce and therefore the more money you earn! Soon you will need to upgrade your studios so more residents can train at the same time, and build a bigger resident’s hall so there’s more room for the artists to live in. Along the way be on the lookout for attractions between residents which lead to love or heartbreak (both of which inspire the residents to produce higher level work.) Also watch for their inspiration level, as they might need to gaze at the newly restored mural or fish on the pier as they think of their new creation.
Easy Controls: Controlling the colony is easily accomplished by dragging the resident from one place to another as you assign them to the task that needs to be accomplished. There is a fast forward button for those impatient folks that want the tasks to get completed faster. But don’t spend too much time watching one artist because soon your Colony will have 15 plus residents all with different needs. As new residents come to live within your commune, you will have to level them up immediately if you want them to produce work for your budget. You will need them too, as the last task that needs to be accomplished requires a sizable amount of money and 5 artists leveled up to their maximum level in their respective specialties.
A nice feature of this particular sim type game is that the colony does NOT continue when you pause or turn the game off. So unlike others you can take a break for a period of time without coming back to playing only to find your colony ruined because of lack of attention!
Only One Save Slot: Only one person can enjoy the game at a time. If you really want to go for it and make the million dollars for your colony, friends and family might be waiting a long time to get their hands on this!
Difficult to Find Key Items: The flowers that boost creativity levels and the umbrellas which artists take a nap under are often hidden and hard to find, especially during certain seasons.
Artist Moods: It’s hard to determine exactly what the “mood” bubble above each character signifies, and as a result it’s sometimes difficult to suit each artist’s needs. Though the developer has promised a help page on their Facebook page, it’d be better if tips about the moods were included in game.
All in all, this game is a unique entry into the App Store and will have you busy for as long as you choose, allowing you to get sucked into a different world from your own. And sometimes, we all need a fantasy world. I definitely recommend Artist Colony.
Artist Colony was developed by I-Play, and I played through version 1.0 of the game on my iPod Touch 2G (OS 3.1.3). The current price point of the game is $3.99.