Save Akimi Village from the Gloom and keep the Raccoon guy in the tree happy.
For a fair while PC and Xbox360 gamers have been able to enjoy the relaxed resource management and town-building fun of the Kefling games from NinjaBee. These enjoyable games, in which the player collects resources, unlocks blueprints, builds modular rooms and puts them all together to create a building, thus unlocking the next blueprint and so on, offer a relaxing diversion from the usual video gaming fare. There is no death, no way to fail, only the compulsion to build “just one more building” which will carry the player through to the early hours of the morning.
But PS3 gamers have been unable to enjoy these titles, thanks to Microsoft exclusivity, which is a real shame. Obviously NinjaBee felt the same way and came up with a solution to this problem by releasing Akimi Village for £7.99, a Kefling game without Keflings, just so that PS3 gamers could also lose hours of their life to the creation of buildings for little people. Bless them.
So, following the same formula as the Kefling games, the player controls an oversized avatar in a world filled with little people. They will then need to construct certain buildings using blueprints to unlock new buildings and progress in the game. Resources will be needed to create these buildings, such as wood, and can be harvested by the player themselves and taken to the workshop, or the player can assign villagers to harvest and transport them.
As the game progresses, the buildings become more and more complex and require different types of resources, some of which will need basic resources like wood to be processed in a separate building into something else, such as wooden planks. More of the villagers will become available, allowing the player to create supply chains of resources, making sure there is a constant supply of the needed items for building.
So far, everything is exactly as a Kefling player would expect. But there are a lot of differences. For starters, Akimi Village is on a floating island and is being overwhelmed by gloom. The player was summoned to the island by a sarcastic “raccoon-like guy” who promises to return the player to their home once the gloom has been banished. Saving the Akimi and their little village is the players overall goal.
Gone are the cute little Keflings, for obvious reasons, to be replaced in this game by the Akimi, strange little creatures who look like they have escaped from “The Night Garden”. Whilst they are certainly industrious workers who will happily get to work on any task that the player assigns to them, they lack the appeal of the Keflings and don’t seem to be as endearing.
Perhaps the largest difference from the Keflings games is as a result of the Gloom. In the beginning, only a small area of the island can be built upon, with the rest being shrouded in the Gloom. As the player progresses and constructs new buildings, they earn culture, which in turn provides them with magical acorns which can be planted in Gloom covered areas to banish the Gloom, open new areas to build, reveal more resources and provide new Akimi to put to work.
Other changes include the overall style of the game, which has taken an Asian path rather than the medieval path taken in the Kefling games, and the vast improvement that comes from indicating in the blueprints which construction building each component comes from, which saves the player going from one to the next until they find the right item. Another way that the game is improved is through the use of a central resource collection, removing the need to move required resources from one construction building to another, saving the player a lot of time and effort.
The game is bright and colourful, with plenty of decoration between the buildings and such. But it is this overall use of colour that causes a major issue for me. As the player assigns tasks to the Akimi, or upgrades them in other ways, they take on different outfits or accessories to indicate as such. The problem arises that, due to the colourful setting of the game, sometimes these indicators can be difficult to see and blend with the background, essentially meaning that the player can lose required Akimi or mistakenly reassign Akimi that already had a purpose. On more than one occasion I found myself wandering the village looking for the educated Akimi that I had created only moments earlier.
But that is just a minor qualm in what is over all a really enjoyable game. Akimi Village may not have all the charm of the Kefling games, but all of the other components are there. PS3 owners who have never played a Kefling game will find themselves in for a surprisingly compulsive, relaxing time. Those who have played a Kefling game will know what to expect, and if they want more will now know where to find it.