I have a limited amount of artistic talent, and that has resulted in failed attempts at oil painting and learning to play the guitar. Heck when I have created my own pictures for use on the TouchGen frontpage they have been replaced by more polished versions by Nigel. That further proves that I should stay away from drawing, and even on the computer my visual art skills lack. Having the opportunity to control an entire colony of artists felt perfect for me. I might be better at managing people and tasks than actually creating masterpieces.
In Artist Colony you start up an abandoned artist colony with just a painter and a musician. To progress in the game you have to manage them in getting the colony running. You can pick up and drop the artists wherever you want them. This is the direct control, and it is the foundation to the gameplay. You have to make sure to train the artists in their primary and secondary skills. This is done by dropping them in the studio you want them to train in. A painter starts painting, and a musician starts singing. There are also dancers, sculptors and photographers. Hey where is the computer game designer? Once a skill has been learnt the artist can create a masterpiece. Inspiration and energy are important to be able to work in the colony. To actually create a masterpiece the inspiration needs to be 95/100 or above. The artists look at flowers or other nice aspects of the colony to raise the inspiration. To be able to work the artist needs energy, and to refill it the artist can sit down on a bench or lie down in the grass/snow. Low energy artists become angry, and have to take a major nap before being available to work or train again. To give the artist more inspiration they can also clean up the colony. This can be directly controlled by dropping an artist on weeds or broken objects.
Some of the tasks can be automated by setting a preference for the artist. I tend to have some artists just clearing and cleaning at all times. When you get more artists there is a real need of some automation. If an artist becomes too mad and tired he/she can quit, and simply walk away. Feeding them is also one of your tasks, and is done by dropping hungry artists in the dining hall.
The controls are all touch based, and work well most of the time. An aspect that I found to be lacking is that when I have an artist in my grip, and the game throws a pop-up at me the artist is dropped. At times I have dropped artists in the wrong studio, and wasted time before realising that my level 8 painter was doing level 1 dance training. The ability to speed up the game is great as there are a lot of times when all the artists are busy training.
When the artists start creating masterpieces a buyer will come by and buy them. You will get a price, and an offer. At times the offer is lower than the price, and it is better to wait for a better offer. I would have loved to get some negotiations going as a minigame instead of just accepting or declining.
The pace of Artist Colony is quite slow, and it reminds me a lot of the Virtual Villagers series of games. In Artist Colony the game doesn’t continue when you aren’t playing it like in Virtual Villagers. In Artist Colony there is not much challenging you. Time is not a problem, and if you are bad or good at it doesn’t really matter. It lacks content as well, and once you get your colony working there isn’t that much to do.
The story is told using the in game graphics, and I found it to be a bit of a bore really. With eccentric artists to work with I expected more than a Walt Disney everybody smile, cry and applaud ending. The graphics of the game is really good, and the environment is detailed. The high production values of the presentation stand in contrast to the quite boring music. You can play your own playlists from within the game. Sound effects are what you expect, but the lack of voiceovers feels quite weird.
The interface also comes with a few flaws. The upgrade/restoration menu is found in the pause menu. When you go into the upgrade/restoration menu you can’t see your available cash, as this is only seen back at the pause screen. To restore or upgrade something you need to fulfil both financial but also educational demands. Some even demand you to find special objects/plans found when clearing the colony of debris.
I had two really fun hours with Artist Colony, and it kept me glued to the screen. I was excited to develop the colony, and get new artists up to the maximum number of 15. Then the main game ended, and after another hour the bonus mission ended. I see no reason to go back to Artist Colony to replay it. The question is whether these hours of fun was worth the $3.99 or not? I say barely, but as it is a game in a quite under populated category it might still be worth it. If you enjoy the Virtual Villagers games this is a nice addition to the slower paced time management games.
Artist Colony $3.99
Seller: Digital Bridges Limited t/a I-play