I am a God and the Furlings are doomed.
Green Man Loaded, the new publishing label of the successful online store Green Man Gaming, brings some strategy to GMG and Steam with Fluid Games and Pocket Games’ God Sim Idol Hands. Guide the Furlings to a bright and prosperous future by telling them where to go and what to do, and punishing all those that oppose you.
The story, for what it’s worth, casts the player into the godly shoes of a deity answering the prayers of the beleaguered Furlings. These cute humanoids mistakenly gave their prayers to an evil god, leading to war and all manner of nastiness, and it is now down to the player to defeat the evil god and his Furlings by guiding the good Furlings.
Taking on the role of a god, players are then introduced to their Furling charges and the powers that they can use to guide them and shape their future. The player has a pool of Mana which gradually replenishes once used, and the first ability the player learns involves manipulating the land.
The Furling lands are beautifully varied, with mountains, valleys, lagoons and all manner of loveliness. Obviously, all of this must be made flat for the Furlings to prosper and perhaps the most important role of a god is flatten the land and make it suitable for the Furling settlement to grow. Players can also raise or lower the terrain, creating impromptu barriers against enemy Furlings or revealing valuable ore for the Furlings to mine. Whether flattening, lowering or raising the land, it is as simple as pointing the cursor to where you want the action to happen and then clicking the appropriate on-screen button or pressing the associated hot key.
Players take a more hands off approach to the Furlings themselves. In the centre of the village, there is a circular monument around which idle Furlings loiter. The player can simply press one of the panels on this monument to set the idle Furlings jobs, such as becoming a woodcutter or farmer. This then involves the Furling going off and building the required structure and then getting busy in their chosen profession. The player has no say over where these buildings are constructed, but they must be on flattened land and if there is not enough flattened land, the Furling will wait for the player to give them the room.
There is a fairly simple tech tree going on here, whereby the player will gradually unlock more professions once they have the right resources. Blacksmiths will collect ore that can then be used to create soldier Furlings, and temples will create priest Furlings for later in the game.
The threat comes from other Furling settlements, and the player will need to both protect their own settlement and take down the enemy. As the Furlings are not controllable themselves, the player will have to guide the soldier Furlings using totem waypoints towards the enemy. It can be quite funny watching the soldier Furlings make their way to the enemy as the AI is not always as clever as it wants to be. Sometimes they get stuck, sometimes they wander off by themselves, it is all quite random but mostly they get to where you want them in the end and then will immediately engage in combat.
The poor little Furlings look to cute to be put in harms way, so thankfully the player has some epic god-like powers to use against the enemy. Drop flaming meteors from the sky, unleash a powerful volcano, or destroy their buildings with an earthquake. These, and other, godly powers have a Mana cost and so can only be used sparingly as the player will have to wait for their Mana to replenish after each use.
As you may have noticed by now, Idol Hands is a relatively simple game. The tutorials are straight forward and introduce all aspects of the game well, and the difficulty curve is very low. All of this suggests that Idol Hands is a God Sim for the younger player, which is no bad thing, but it does mean that the entertainment value for the more mature player is limited. Even the visuals, which are very nice, lean towards the cute side of things, further suggesting the game will appeal more to youngsters.
The big problems with Idol Hands are the limitations it sets itself. The game is surprisingly short and the simplicity, which I assume is in place for the younger players, limits the options for the player and reduces the depth to that of a shallow puddle. More experienced players will find Idol Hands repetitive after only a few hours.
Idol Hands is a lovely looking game with simple and enjoyable gameplay. Unfortunately, that simple gameplay will leave the average player wanting more. For the younger player who is being introduced to the God Sim, Idol Hands is a great choice. But for those wanting something akin to the likes of Black & White, they would be better looking elsewhere.