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iPhone  header logo

Artist Colony

For: iPhone

Painting by numbers

Product: Artist Colony | Developer: Vivid Games | Publisher: Iplay | Format: iPhone | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.6
Artist Colony iPhone, thumbnail 1
Unless their work is the kind that ends up on placemats or tea-towels, artists should be a little crazy.

Whether they're cutting off an ear or wallowing in a mixture of self-deprecation and doubt, the last thing any artist should be described as is 'ordinary'.

Artist Colony, therefore, is a little at odds with its subject matter. Fostering a world populated by artists, musicians, and sculptures, its gameplay saps much of their supposed life and quirky character.

It would be especially harsh to describe it as bad, though - it just feels routine.

Love pains

Adhering to the same simulation set-up as the Virtual Villagers franchise, you play something of a guiding role, picking up characters and dropping them off in locations where they can be put to good use.

The plot focuses on rebuilding an artist colony left abandoned in the 1950s following a tale of romance and betrayal. You take the reins after the game fast-forwards to the present day, when the colony is inherited by a pair of estranged half-brothers.

Much of the early tasks focus on clearing up the mess that surrounds and inhabits the colony. Doing so is a matter of tapping on a character's icon on the left side of the screen to locate him, before dragging and dropping him to whatever task you'd like him to complete.

You also have to take into account the human necessities - letting them rest on a bench when tired or sending them to the kitchen to feed, for example.

Colony conundrums

There's an enormous list of tasks to be done, some more interesting than others, naturally. You can track your progress using a handy journal. Hidden photographs unlock new areas and tasks, as well as filling in some of the back story.

The bulk of tasks revolve around problem-solving. Despite sounding straightforward, problems are almost always entangled in a mess of other requirements and complications that require you to complete several unrelated tasks first.

For example, getting to a target area so you can rest means clearing a path first. Generating the funds to do so relies on the skills of your colony's populus, which in turn means training them so they reach the peak in their specific field.

Along the way, they can be put to good use selling their art or performances for cash that, in turn, can then be used to upgrade the colony and push it forward.

What's wrong with this picture?

Artist Colony is a plodding endeavour. The opening few minutes are so menial that it's easy to get distracted, and the pace rarely picks up. While it can be considered a focused approach, it's more aptly described as plain, routine, and at times monotonous.

There's just very little that makes Artist Colony stand out. Although it lets you explore and hit goals largely at your own pace, this is one game that sadly doesn't feel like the sum of its artistic and expressive parts.
Artist Colony
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 19 February 2010
Too safe to really be spectacular, Artist Colony is nonetheless a playable people simulator that comes with a unique setting, but fails to truly build on its early promise
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