Once again, NinjaBee find themselves treading familiar territory. If you own an XBox 360, you may well have heard of A Kingdom for Keflings and A World Of Keflings, both cutesy management games, which were console exclusive and developed by NinjaBee. Finally, they have taken the same game format and found a way to bring it to the Playstation 3.
Akimi Village plays out almost exactly like Keflings. The name and places may have changed, but the gameplay remains completely intact. You play as either a boy or a girl who wakes up to find that they have been transported to a strange floating village, with only a talking raccoon for company. The raccoon explains that the once bountiful village of Akimi has been left desolate, and he asks that you help restore it to its former glory. To do this, you must take the few villagers that are still happy enough to work and put them to task collecting resources. As you gather enough materials, you will be able to build workshops from the blueprints given to you. With these workshops, you will be able to store resources and then, as the game progresses, use them to convert the resources into other useful items. The more buildings you create, the more blueprints you will receive, and as you build different types of workshop, you will be rewarded with various tools and items.
When you start out, the village will only have a small area of lush land to build on, but each time you build something, you will be rewarded with experience points. As you reach new levels, you will be given a seed that can be planted in the desolate areas of the village, transforming them into habitable land, thereby widening your play area. It will also increase the amount of villagers you have at your disposal. The idea of the game is not only to obtain and build all blueprints, but also to turn the village complete green.
The Akimi villagers themselves play an important part in the rejuvenation process. You can pick up a villager and place it where you want them to work chopping trees, picking bamboo, cutting rock or even harvesting spirit (found in spirit wells). They can then be ordered to transport the harvest to whichever workshop needs it. Villagers can also ferry resources from one place to another via Rickshaws, which is cute. The resources are vital if you want to tackle the later blueprints, as they require a lot of materials. You can also help out yourself with the heavy lifting – you are much bigger than the villagers and you can carry more. Doing this saves time, which can be a big help if you are waiting on certain resources to complete a blueprint.
Some of the blueprints are for education buildings, such as Schools, Dojos or even Rickshaw training. These help your villagers work more efficiently, speeding the harvesting process.
The gameplay makes a refreshing change from killing/beating up fools and has a much more relaxed pace, making it stand out from most games nowadays. Also, as a management game, it is extremely light, unlike many management sims that require you to micro-manage on an in-depth scale, making this game suitable for all ages and skill levels. Although not as cute as Keflings (you don’t have an XBox Avatar to use, for a start), it still holds a lot of charm and has some great written dialogue.
There are a few niggles with the game however, firstly the music. Fair enough, it does sound all magical and mystical, but it does get repetitive very quickly, I ended up turning the sound down after an hour or so, as it was beginning to drive me nuts. It is also strange that, given the advances made in A World of Keflings, NinjaBee would choose to base Akimi Village more on the original game. You don’t have a version of the large helpers that appeared in World of Keflings, which made building and carrying easier. No major issue, but it seems odd that they weren’t included.
There also isn’t any form of co-op play on offer either (offline or online). The game does allow you to send gifts to anyone on your friends list that owns the game (once you have built the Post Office, that is), but seeing as I don’t know anyone with the game yet, I haven’t been able to try it out.
All in all, Akimi Village is a great game for those who want a change of pace; something that doesn’t require you to intensely stare at your TV for hours on end. If you own an Xbox 360, and have already brought either of the Kefling games, then there is nothing new here for you. But if you only have a PS3 and fancy a change from all of the killing, then Akimi Village could be just what you are looking for.
Review copy provided by publisher.