Review: Akimi Village (PSN)

7 mins read

Akimi Village is the kind of game that children should be playing. It’s violence free and cute, yes, but it’s also engaging and challenging at the same time. Adults can enjoy it, younger kids will lap it up and, with the social interaction features this is a game you can lose a lot of time into.

A builder’s work is never done

It starts out relaxing enough. You wake up on an island that has succumbed to misery – its inhabitants, the Akimi, little more that ghostly shells of their former selves. You have no idea how you got there, but a raccoon-thing tells you you need to save the island. By building up a vibrant and active community, you can reclaim that land little chunks at a time, and eventually earn a trip back to the real world.

To begin you’ll build the basic town hall and farm buildings. This gives you access to your first little group of Akimi, which, much like Pikmin or the citizens of Little King’s Story, run around doing chores that you can set them to. There are a lot of different activities the Akimi can perform, from working on the farms, to setting up shop in various refineries to pump out quality building materials, to chopping down trees and smashing rocks for the raw materials. The little fellows are idiots though, and to get them to do a job, you need to pick them up, set them their task, and then show them where to take the goods they’ve created. Once you’ve done that though, you can leave them to their task, unless you wish to give them a new job, they’ll just keep doing the same thing. And, since you are given more Akimi than you need, you won’t often need to give the little guys a new career.

While you’re doing this, you’ll also need to be erecting new buildings and unlocking blueprints. The game features a tech tree of sorts – completing one building unlocks a new blueprint, and there are three dominant “strands” of buildings to work with. Not all are necessary to complete the game, but those optional ones do tend to give your Akimi a useful productivity boost. To construct each of those buildings, you’ll need to collect various building blocks that can be created at the various different buildings that you’ve already got going. There are a truly staggering number of different blocks and buildings to work with, and the more complex blueprints take a lot of wandering around to piece together.
Still with me? On paper it’s a confusing process, and the in-game tutorial is a little inefficient at explaining the dynamics of this game, but once you get going it makes easy sense. The challenge comes in in managing the Akimi and resources while still constructing new buildings. The game’s pace ramps up rapidly – by about the 1 ½ hour mark you’re going to be running around like a madman trying to get everything done, and given that the raw resource demand for some of the more expensive building parts is huge, you need to efficiently plan forward too.

Lovable idiots

It’s made a little easier with the ability to send resources to the people on your friends list with their own copies of this game. It’s an economy that is based on generosity and sharing – after all, there’s no benefit to stockpiling massive amounts of resources here, so you might as well send gifts to friends. There’s also no real urgency in the game, since there’s no real way to lose, so it’s possible to dial back the pace or take a breather if you need a moment.
The game’s greatest failing point (at least, compared to the competition) is the presentation. It’s technically proficient, and you’ll have no trouble finding what you need or getting around the island, but it’s also a sterile kind of charm. Pikmin and Little King’s Story were great because they were charming games, as much as good games. Akimi is a good game with a charm that is entirely too forced, and therefore fails to be ‘cute’ in the slightest. The music, too, is pleasant, but instantly forgettable. It’s damning, but not unfair, to say that if Gameloft decided to rip off Pikmin, this is how it would look.

It doesn’t take long for this empty patch of land to become absolutely packed with buildings an busy Akimi

Thankfully this is not a Gameloft production – they would have failed to make a game this much fun. Akimi redeems itself by offering that subtly educational, but entertaining time management gameplay that has been addictive since the days of the original Sim City. For younger ones, this is a must-have PlayStation Network game. For older folks, if you found the likes of Pikmin and Little King’s Story fun but also enjoyed the combat free sandbox of Animal Crossing, then look into this. It’s a happy balance of all those concepts.

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