I am a fan of life simulation games and even though I prefer the somewhat more hardcore titles like Spore or other Sim-something titles, I must admit that I enjoy playing Virtual Villagers or Virtual Families, too. And Artist Colony has something of both types of games, obviously with a bit more focus on the casual type of play and the family-friendly environment. Read on to find out in my Artist Colony PC review how much did I actually enjoy I-Play’s life simulation game!
The story is not very impressive: years ago, two good friends created a real Artist Colony but the two partners somehow start a dispute and go on to follow their own paths, leaving the project behind. Then the story jumps to the present day where the Artist Colony is in ruin but you come to take over and get the whole thing back on track once more. A classic, unimpressive story, but in life sims it’s the gameplay that matters the most.
And the gameplay is more than decent, even though so-slow-that-drives-you-mad sometimes, especially in the earlier stages of the game when you will have to spend time waiting for your characters to rest, while being unable to do anything else since… well, there’s nobody else there! And boy, don’t some tired artists sleep!
Next most of the things you will do is cleaning debris and removing snow, restoring the buildings and improving your characters’ skills and eventually start selling your products and generate some income. All these are generally connected, basically meaning that if you wish to get into the music studio, you first have to clean up the debris blocking the way to it (there’s always debris in the way!), then practice a bit to improve your products’ quality and gather more money, needed to improve the studio itself.
So even though technically speaking, there won’t be incredibly much in terms of gameplay and tasks, the variety will come from the huge amount of items available in the game (I think there are hundreds of stuff the artists can create) and the impressive number of characters (at least two dozens!) that come and go throughout the tale. Add to that the fact that each character can develop some more intense feelings for another (feelings that will certainly not always be shared) and you’ll have a pretty impressive life sim, in the end!
However, it’s not all great when it comes to the gameplay of Artist Colony. The pace itself, even though adjustable, still seems awfully slow throughout the game. And that’s not the biggest problem anyway! The navigation is pretty crappy, since the portion of the map you see is quite small compared to the size the entire playable area gets, and the only option to move the artists from one spot to another is by dragging them there. And since there are no possible shortcuts and you’ll have to scroll up or down (or left or right), you will tire pretty quickly. Add to that the fact that some objects are not at all easily found on the map and you might end up searching quite a while for the right spot for your artist.
Also (and strangely), Artist Colony only has one save spot available, meaning that it can’t be both you and your wife (or child) playing the game… this is really strange but, hey, it makes things even more interesting!
Visually, Artist Colony delivers some pleasant visuals with cutesy little characters and environments filled with life and color, and it does all these without having some really high system requirements. The soundtrack is also nice and relaxing and the few sound effects are generally well done and won’t make you scream at your invisible alter-ego to stop them already.
Even though not a particular masterpiece, Artist Colony is a solid game that adds flavor to the casual life sim genre, with an original approach, an interesting story and a huge array of possible things your characters can create. Add to that a simple gameplay and its overall charming aspect and you’ll have a title both the older and the younger members of your family could enjoy – especially if they’re into such games.
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