(editor note: GodFinger is not available in the US App Store yet, but ngmoco:) says that it is coming soon!)
If you've ever had the pleasure of playing Bolt Creative's Pocket God, you'll probably understand how much fun it can be acting as 'God' over a group of (admittedly adorable) virtual characters. Within the game, players get to control almost every aspect of every day life for the islands small inhabitants, the pygmies. While good in its own right, Pocket God only focuses its attention on one small, virtually insignificant island. Released today, GodFinger by ngmoco takes this genius concept and multiples its size by ... a lot.
In GodFinger, you don't just get to control an island ... you get to control a planet. Your planet. To do with whatever you please. Your planets inhabitants are called denizens and you get control them in any which way that you please! In order to play the game you'll first need a Plus+ account. If you're not familar with the service, Plus+ is ngmoco:)'s own social network which allows you to interact with other players of certain ngmoco-owned games, store achievements and game progress. If you already have an account, simply login and you're ready to roll!
Starting out the game will take you on an interactive tutorial in which you complete a number of task to make you familiar with the game and its working. As you act as God, most of the in-game elements are "power" related. For example one of your first tasks is to find and guide your followers to your shrine. Your shrine is the global source of your godly power. Having your followers worship you around this totem-like statute will generate Mana. There are three types of currency you will come into contact with and use in GodFinger. These include; Mana, Awe and Gold. Mana is the "currency" of your powers, and while you have Mana you can perform various different wonders. Wonders are events like triggering a rain shower from a cloud, commanding lightening bolts, or lighting up your planet with sunshine. Your Mana regenerates over time, but you can speed this up by forcing your followers to worship you. If you need a quick fix of Mana you can trade Awe for Mana in the Awe store.
Awe is your virtual currency for buying goodies from the in-app Awe store. Where's the catch? I here you ask. Well Awe costs real money. You can choose from 35 Awe costing £1.79 to 206 Awe costing £5.99 or go all out and pick-up 750 Awe for £17.99. The last currency used in the game is Gold. Old fashioned, gold will allow you to buy both buildings and other amenities for your followers.
Each of you followers has a bar of energy and each will alert you of what wonder you must perform for them, to keep the level of this energy constant. Every once in a while a new non-believer will be introduced to your planet. using your Mana to perform wonders you must convince these non-believers to become your followers. To pick up a follower and move him or her to a different place on your planet simply tap, drag and drop.
Moving onto actual gameplay, the game is set out on a huge barren planet. Using your fingers as navigation tools, you can virtually turn the planet and its contents either left or right. At any time you can double tap and zoom in on a certain part of this planet and fill the screen with its contents. Using gold you can build upon your planet creating farms and other building for your followers to work in. As you do, you'll create a system which will continuously create more gold for you. The aim of the game is level up. You do this by gaining more Level XP (experience). For example 73/140 means you have earned 73 out of 140 XP, with 140 XP being the amount of experience you need to level up. This is where the social element also comes in. Supported by ngmoco:)'s own Plus+ network, GodFinger allows you to add contacts as Mystics. Mystics periodically earn you gold on other peoples planets. Adding and assigning a mystic on your own planet will ensure that person receives a wad of gold, too.
Overall, while the game is stunning to look at, and performs well, my opinions of GodFinger fall at the feet of this argument of the 'Freemium' business model ngmoco seem to have adopted for most of its games lately. Personally, I can see where they are coming from. They're not forcing you to pay for in-game elements. In fact, if you like you can play the game for free and never pay for things like Awe. But, I believe there will come a point in the game where purchase is necessary, and therefore the game has to fall into the category of 'Pay to Play'. While your planet will run without you, you may find the constant push notification asking you to come back and sort things out a little annoying. Sure these can be turned off, bu it doesn't stop the fact that certain elements of the game will degrade while your away.
GodFinger is a very "hands on" kind of game, and apart from its pay-to-play nature ... one I think fits the iPhone nicely.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics and Sound [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3/5]