|Developer(s)||Last Day of Work|
|Publisher(s)||Last Day of Work|
|Designer(s)||Arthur K. Humphrey|
|Release date(s)||A New Home
July 18, 2006
The Lost Children
Virtual Villagers is a series of village simulator video games created and developed by Last Day of Work, an independent video game developer and publisher. It is released as shareware for Windows, Mac OS X, and for convergent mobile telephone technology.
The games are based on puzzles and strategy and have an underlying motive throughout with a mix of ethnic and cultural backgrounds surrounding a mythical island called Isola. There are four portions to the island, in which the game is set, being the cardinal points of the compass.
In the first game, A New Home, islanders have lived in peace for many years on their island; but, one day, a volcano erupted and destroyed their home. The survivors fled and discovered another island called Isola, where they make their new home. There, they must uncover the secrets and puzzles of Isola and create a village. This game is based around organizing and growing a village to develop villagers with more skill sets, culminating in giving birth to a child with all five skill sets.
Virtual Villagers: A New Home
After their previous island is destroyed by an erupting volcano, a group of survivors fled from the scene and when their boat crashes, they find Isola as their new home. About 500 years pass and somehow the golden child was born. He could walk on water, would never age, could do magical things, and was capable of moving a large boulder in front a cave that could open up another part of Isola.
Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children
Two curious villagers decide to adventure into the cave that had long taunted them and find themselves on the western shore of Isola, with new mysteries to solve. They also discover a small group of abandoned children and, as with other games in the series, attempt to build a society anew.
Virtual Villagers 3: Secret City
In the third installation in the series, Virtual Villagers 3: Secret City, a group of villagers venture to the northern shore of Isola, where they find an abandoned city that they must restore by creating alchemy lab and repairing huts and ancient structures, discovering artifacts and learning new things about Isola's history.
Last Day of Work's official site summary for the game reads as follows: "Embark on a new journey with a group of villagers in search of a new part of the island to populate. Land on the hidden shores of the northern side of Isola and explore what was once a secret city. Find new sources of food to nourish your villagers and help them rebuild the remains of this mysterious city. Who lived here before? Where have they gone? What is the secret of Isola?"
Virtual Villagers 4: The Tree of Life
The fourth game in the series, Virtual Villagers 4: The Tree of Life, continues the story of the island of Isola, where several generations have coexisted with the island in happiness and peace. In a turn of events, the fauna of the island has begun to diminish and, as such, the chieftain of the villagers has sent an expedition to investigate the causation of this phenomenon. In their travels, the expedition party stumble across a clearing with an enormous dying banyan tree, dubbed the Tree of Life, the hypothesised answer to the villagers' problem on the eastern shore of the island.
In terms of gameplay, in contrast to previous games in the series, The Tree of Life permits the player to choose his or her starting tribe members, which comprises five people; similar to previous games, there are 16 achievements, called "puzzles", to be earned. Aesthetically and graphically, The Tree of Life features an updated user interface and a detailed hand-drawn map.
Virtual Villagers 5: New Believers
Released on December 30, 2010, Virtual Villagers 5: New Believers is set on the island of Isola.
This time, the villagers discover a mask in the forest. When a group of villagers go to investigate they are captured and imprisoned by a group of masked heathens. The "heathens" are actually Isolan natives from the era before the newcomers arrived in A New Home. Damaged emotionally by the tragic events revealed in The Secret City, they have lost hope and become fearful and superstitious. The aim is to break out of the prison and convert all the heathen villagers back to believing in their ancient ways.
The "heathens" have installed sacred totems that the villagers must tear down in order to progress in their own chosen fields of study as well as giving the natives an opportunity to restore broken structures and rediscover sacred things.
Larger than any previous game in the series, New Believers is described by the developers Last Day of Work as a "god game", in that players will experience being the "god" of the exploring villagers. In light of the game's concept, the player earns energy through the faith of believers and acquires powers that he or she can aid his or her tribe; such powers include the creation of storms, droughts, sun lights, and butterflies and bees. The game's new concept is also reflected in a new faith-measuring meter in the bottom, right-hand corner of the screen.
Many fans of the series questioned the wisdom of putting out a game where people who have arrived as outsiders to a new land go about "converting" indigenous heathens. However, it's clear that the newcomers actually believe in the same principles as the native Isolans once did, and that the natives are converting back to a former belief that nourished and strengthened their tribe.
Virtual Villagers: Origins
On April 10, 2012, LDW announced the release of an adaptation of A New Home for Apple handheld devices. Called Origins, it adds a number of options to the original game. Since then they have adapted many of their original games for app use.
Virtual Villagers: A New Home has received a number of awards, including a Zeeby Award for Best Simulation Game of 2006 and the Best Sim Game of 2006 Award from website Game Tunnel. The game received two "Highly Commended" awards from the 2006 GameShadow Innovation in Games Awards, in the Best Casual Game category and the ATi Crossfire People's Choice Award category.
- "Virtual Villagers". GameZone. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
- "Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children". GameZone. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
- Jinny Gudmundsen, "Virtual Villagers teaches life lessons", USA Today (8/31/2006).
- "Last Day of Work: Virtual Villagers 4: The Tree of Life; Official Site". Retrieved 2010-02-26.
- Announcing Virtual Villagers: Origins for iOS, LDW official site, page found 2012-04-22.
- Carroll, Russell (2006-12-16). "2006 Sim Game of the Year". Game Tunnel. Retrieved 2007-07-18.
- "Winners". The Zeebys. Retrieved 2007-07-19.