Review: Akimi Village

Akimi Village, the latest title and first PSN exclusive from Ninjabee Games and Wahoo Studios has arrived on the PlayStation Network! Crank up the calypso music and check out the review!

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Upon loading up the game, you’ll be treated to a catchy calypso beat that accompanies a video of gameplay along with your typical game options. You can check the controls in the options menu, but these games are pretty straightforward and you’ll pick it up in no time. Upon starting a new game you’ll notice that you have up to a total of 5 villages saved at any given time. Choose from one of two playable characters, Matthew or Norah, and you’re on your way.

As soon as you begin you’ll meet the village elder who offers a short tutorial while telling you a little about the game. Basically, you suddenly ended up in this mysterious Akimi Village which is full of ‘gloom’.  You can get rid of all the gloom, after which the village elder will ‘work his mojo’ and get you back home.  In this part of the game you’ll learn the basic controls while farming a few basic resources and building a small structure.

With each new shop or institution that you build, you’ll find yourself earning blueprints to build even more. Certain places like the Brickyard and or Paper Mill can be upgraded once you’ve harvested enough of the materials in each respective building.  Some buildings such as the lumber mill require an Akimi to operate to create or refine resources, while schools require a ‘Wise Fish’ to teach other Akimi’ new skills. Any time a key item such as an axe or hammer is required to progress in some way, you’ll have to find or earn it either through farming resources around the map, or by building a key structure from your unused blueprints.

As you build more you’ll earn culture points and this helps to earn more seeds from the Elder and his tree. These seeds can be planted in the ‘Spirit Wells’ which are located in the dark, shadowy gloom-covered areas. Once planted you’ll see that section return to the vibrant world it’s meant to be, and you’ll be able to use the Akimi villagers from that section to do your bidding. Akimi villagers are a huge help because you can set them up to farm resources or you can order them to transfer piles of resources to a given point on the map.

One thing I’d like to note is a great new addition I’ve just noticed! In the Keflings games, more than a single workshop could use specific resources such as ‘cut lumber’, and you had to stock each shop separately. In Akimi Village you can stock any and all shops that use each particular resource and have access to a single stockpile. This is a fantastic feature to streamline the management process in the long run.

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There’s a ton of small features to learn during your time with Akimi Village and figuring it all out can save you time and effort.  You can switch Akimi’ to new jobs by picking them up and hitting Δ to remove their job status, allowing you to set a new one in its place. You can also kick the Akimi’ to make them get back to work if they’ve stopped for some reason. Make a note that you can’t just let your controller rest, nor can you tie the analog sticks together using elastics to keep the Akimi farming while you’re away. There are safeguards to force you into being at the controller and working, or at the very least moving around in various directions. Another cool little feature is the ability to dedicate totems to other players on your friends list and visit their villages throughout the skies, and even mail resources to other areas

I’m not too sure how I feel about the visuals and audio for Akimi Village. Everything seems just a little bit too ‘green’ for my liking. Areas which have been purified of gloom appear as a grassy field, while trees and bamboo share similar shades of green, and it all blends together after a while. It’s not really an ugly game, but I suppose I was hoping it’d be a brighter and livelier game. Aside from day and night sequences, there doesn’t appear to be any weather changes. The framerate seems to be steady, and appears to run smooth for the most part. The soundtrack matches the visuals, and while the launch trailer and main menu seem to have upbeat and catchy themes, the in-game music has a more dismal sound to it – if you listen to it closely, it feels like you should be floating in subspace. I wouldn’t necessarily say it fails in this category, but there’s definitely room for improvement. After all, music is a huge part of the design and can make the ultimate difference in your enjoyment.

For its debut game on the PlayStation Network, NinjaBee Games and Wahoo Studios have done a very solid job on the development of Akimi Village. For PS3-only owners, it’s a great way to experience the magic of the Keflings titles from Xbox LIVE Arcade, and it’s one of the better casual, ‘no skill required’ titles available on PSN to date. When everything is said and done, Akimi Village is a charming addition to PSN that supplies hours of fun and inspires creativity.

For a free chance to win the game, check out this page: Contest: Win Akimi Village on PSN

Building and moving pieces is simple and fun, but the inability to move buildings are a step backward from their previous games. The lack of multiplayer is disappointing too.
It's not ugly, but it's not a very vibrant looking title if you compare it to their Xbox Keflings titles.
Slow-paced themes similar to 'sounds of nature' compilations accompany the gameplay, more tunes like the trailer and main menu would have fit better though.
8.0Final Score

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