The Promised Land
In this age of over population, it's hard not to daydream about having a nice little town all to yourself. But unless you're a billionaire, chances are the only way to experience the feel of colonization is through the gracious world of casual gaming. The Promised Land from Boolat Games is a pleasant simulation building and strategy game similar to Virtual Villagers that hands you a piece of uncharted land ready to be plundered. As an adventurer, you're off to find the elusive spring of eternal happiness and build yourself a town that could rival even the most advanced of civilizations!
Just after you land in this new, uncharted world, you get to work utilizing your four little helpers to do all of your bidding. Simply click, drag and drop villagers to assign tasks, bumping against the edge of the screen with your cursor to scroll across the map. There are a number of different professions to specialize in, including farmer, worker, builder, artisan, and scientist. A farmer will always be more productive when farming, for example, whereas a scientist will fumble a bit when set to a task like mining. Specializing in one area means your people will get more work done at a faster pace, so naturally it's a good idea to keep workers as focused as you can.
While watching over your minions, keep track of their hunger, happiness, and health, three stats that slowly decrease over time. Villagers are pretty smart and will take care of most major problems as they arise, but you can always click and drag them around to speed things up a little. As your colony expands, you must build houses to make sure each and every person has a place to call home. Homeless villagers will stand around listlessly, which not only gets in the way, but it doesn't help you obtain your goals, either!
Buildings are also a part of The Promised Land, and over the course of the game, you'll work with a number of different types of structures. Most require you study a topic at the laboratory before you can build them, and even when you have the technology, it always costs a certain amount of resources to get something built. Fortunately, earning resources is far from a boring affair. You can either complete the tasks listed at the bottom of the screen, or send out your ships to barter for goods with other colonies. But beware: pirates are all over the place, and they'd love nothing better than to get a hand or two on your stuff! Using your ship's cannons, you can fight them off using an Angry Birds style mini-game, pulling back the fuse to knock pirates from their perches.
Analysis: Much like the Virtual Villagers series or the more overlooked Floating Kingdoms, The Promised Land is a game that will have you looking at the clock and thinking, "Where in the world did my day go?" There's so much going on that there's never really a time when you can sit back and feel like you're adequately stockpiled on supplies. There's always this item or that item that needs to be made or collected, this building or that building that needs to be built or upgraded. But, you know, since you're low on resources, you'll have to do a few trading trips first, and we all know what that means: pirate cannoning time!
As with most casual sims, The Promised Land is all about managing the small details as you work towards a greater whole. The trading aspect is a notable departure from the usual formula, and it really sets this game out from the other offerings in the crowded genre. Combine that with a colorful visual presentation, characters that are filled with personality, and a poppy sort of active soundtrack and you've got one of the most fulfilling and varied sims on the market.
Clearly, any fan of resource management games will be squealing with glee at this new (and highly addictive) addition to the genre. Even if you're new to sims, you can easily pick up the basic ideas and quickly tackle that pesky quarry or garden. Here's to celebrating your summer right and having a little piece of a world to call your own!