Totem Tribe GOLD is a new and expanded follow-up to the original Totem Tribe, the series of simulation games sprinkled with real-time strategy and hidden object elements. Not a proper sequel and more than an expansion, expect to find new challenges, ten new levels, different puzzles, and almost twice as much gameplay as the original Totem Tribe. Translation: say goodbye to the rest of your day.
The storyline follows Aruku, the young chief of the Hawk tribe, who wants to create a better future for her people. Follow her from island to island as you explore the terrain, building structures that allow you to train workers, scouts, fighters, and other units to help defend and colonize the land. You don't have to worry about resources or anything like that, just make sure you have enough workers so new buildings are completed quickly.
Each island comes with its own set of objectives that can change as you play. You might start off looking for a particular item or talisman but soon discover a friendly tribe in need of your assistance. Maybe you have to attack a band of evil mushrooms, or just find a bunch of items scattered throughout the jungle. The variety of challenges is one thing that keeps Totem Tribe GOLD fresh and fun on every single level.
While you build things and scour the landscape, you'll notice some items littering the ground. Shells, stones, gems, treasure chests and much more can be found all over the place in Totem Tribe GOLD. Most of these can be collected with a simple click of the mouse, while others require a puzzle to be solved or a group of items to be found beforehand. This hidden object element is one of the things that makes the game such a draw for casual players. There's always something to discover!
Analysis: If you're like me, you probably clicked the "download" link right when you saw the letters T, O, T, E, and M. The original Totem Tribe game looked innocent enough, but once you started playing it you realized how difficult of a game it is to put down. The simplest elements from simulation and real-time strategy genres are gracefully incorporated into the game, giving you all the pleasure of building and managing a village without any of the hassle. Then, pour on top of that a bare-bones hidden object game and you've got a dangerously addictive formula on your hands. Go ahead, try to stop playing.
One great improvement in Totem Tribe GOLD is the ability to navigate visited islands from an attractive overworld map, peering in to see how many gems you have to collect in each area. This makes going back to perfect your game much easier. The addition of a guard tower building also makes it safer to send your warriors away. No more leaving your village unguarded while you wage war across the island!
Not everything was improved in this pseudo-sequel, as there are still a few rough spots in the gameplay that could use some smoothing out. The biggest area that could benefit is unit control. You can only direct your units by type, not by individuals or even user-defined groups. This is especially troublesome when you want to split warriors to tackle multiple enemies or have workers build several buildings at once. You can't really do this in Totem Tribe, forcing you to allocate your resources either all the way or not at all.
Totem Tribe GOLD isn't a reinvention of the Totem Tribe series, and it really doesn't need to be. Hours more gameplay, new things to discover, and a brand new round of RTS/sim/hidden object entertainment will keep you happily engrossed for days on end.