Many console gamers have avoided this kind of game on facebook for years, but put a genre back onto consoles and I just can’t help but take a look. Akimi Village is a light-hearted building sim where you control a giant avatar, plodding around a floating island helping the Akimi recreate their world. The genre is almost non-existent on PSN, but XBLA regulars might remember NinjaBee’sKeflings’ games, which are very similar to this one.
Most of the land is shrouded in a dark cloud called ‘The Gloom.’ Any Akimi folk under this cloud are unable to work and you can’t build on the land either. You must plant healing acorns to clear the land of Gloom and liberate the wondering little dudes. These elusive acorns can only be earned by rebuilding the settlement.
Buildings are created with resources you or the villagers harvest from the land. Bamboo, trees, rocks, hay and spirit water make up the main ingredients, which can be taken to workshops to create parts like scaffolding, doorways, plinths, platforms and other materials to fulfil each building’s blueprint requirements.
After the workshops come the more specific buildings like saw mills to turn wood into timber, or straw and mud for brick factories or rocks for polished stones and so on. After a while, you can upgrade the factories to run more efficiently. It would have been a real bore to have to take all the materials to the factories yourself, so it’s a relief you can make the workers take them. Before long, you can even have rickshaw carriers pick up from a pile and take it to whatever building you desire. Your world will eventually become smothered in the little fellas scurrying around your feet.
Your main concern should be making sure you have enough villagers working to keep all materials in production. It’s not as much of an issue later on when you have two doing each job, but early on removing one can have a knock-on effect and bring the whole world to a halt.
The building blueprints display a grid of materials for you to collect and lay down in the positions required. Once you put one item down, a handy blue square appears to tell you where to place the next item you select. This doesn’t quite make up for the fact you have to walk over to the workshops to pick up each item individually and then take it to the building site. This isn’t much of a grind early on, but by the time you have to start putting up buildings on the outskirts of the central hub and carry 20+ items there, you’ll start to feel like you should be doing something worthwhile with your time.
Chances are though, you’ll still be there hours later, determined to clear every last shadow of darkness from the land, create every building and hoover up the remaining Trophies. Yes, it’s overly simple, but there’s no danger at all, making for a relaxing gaming experience. It’s ideal lazy afternoon or hangover material.
If you can convince your friends to get involved you can swap items and check on each other’s progress via the totem poles at the edge of the map. You might be asking yourself why you should get involved with Akimi Village if you have a supply of similar -not to mention free- games on facebook. Well, if you’re going to be a lazy sod and piss away your time harvesting imaginary crops you might as well do it in HD on your TV from the comfort of your couch rather than hunched over a PC desk or with a laptop irradiating your crotch for hours on end. More importantly, you won’t be filling up your friend’s facebook feeds with wheelbarrows and carrots.
- No pressure gaming
- Better looking than facebook games…
- …but a bit rough by PSN standards
- Just the one map
- A lot of back-and-forth errands
The Short Version: Absorbs your time more than it really should. If this is a genre you’ve dabbled with over social networks, then you can have a lot of fun with it. Regular gamers will either enjoy the sedate change of pace from the norm or scowl at the whole idea.