Developer: I-Play
Price: $3.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.6
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Graphics and Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Developed by Vivid Games and published by i-Play, Artist Colony is a graphically exciting adventure which takes you on the journey of creating a thriving community or colony of creatives and artists. Much compared to that of the popular SIMs franchise, the game sees you take on the role of various artists and creatives to become the best you can be. Starting out, you (Ben) and your friend (Dylan) are thrown into a deserted and run-down community of buildings and establishments. Having not been used for years there is quite a bit of work needed to be carried out before you can both start to gain skill levels. Your first job is to clear all the surrounding debris around you and the various buildings, in order to access buildings like the art or music studios.

Just like most simulation games, your characters action will depend on the levels of their feelings. For example, you won’t be able to force your artists to paint, if they find that their own inspiration levels are lower than usual. To increase an artists’ inspiration levels, you have to take care of them. For example, when hungry you must drag them to the kitchen to eat .. (etc). After you’ve cleared most of the debris though, this is exactly what you’ll be asked to do. By painting, you’ll be aiming to get your artist to painting level 1 and beyond. Throughout the game, you’ll be continuously aiming to earn both skill, determination and inspiration, in order to complete more complex and challenging tasks ahead in the future. As you clear more and more debris and sticks from the ground, blocking the paths to other creative establishments and buildings, you’ll also unlock even more activities for your artists and creatives.

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Controls are pretty straight forward. While the game is hands-on, most of the time your artists and creatives move around by themselves in such time you need to call upon them. Need your artist to perform a task? Simply tap, drag and drop him or her to that location. If your artist is performing a mundane task or something which takes a hefty amount of time, you can speed up gameplay by tapping the fast-forward button located in the top right. In the left-hand pane you’ll see a profile of your current artists that are active. Tapping any one of these profile photos will immediately shift the camera focus onto this character, allowing for easy location of specific characters when more artists and creatives are eventually introduced into the game. If you ever need to hide this panel, tapping the button located in the bottom left of the screen is where you want to go. Right at the top of the screen is your primary goal. However frustrating and puzzling at times, this task must be completed or met, in order to progress in the game. Need to pause the action? The pause button is located in the the bottom right.

Once you level up in any of your skills, you’ll receive a short colony memo. To read and manage these, just tap the button located top left which looks like a closed envelope. Got multiple items you need to view? Head on over to the pause menu and then tap ‘Journal’. Your journal, like any journal, is where your goals, events and overall progress are stored. Within your journal you’ll also find hints and tips to restore the colony to its once former self. If you’ve earned enough inspiration and skill you’ll also be able to see and store paintings in your gallery. Your gallery is a place for all your artist’s works. From paintings to sculptures, photos dance shows and music shows .. your gallery is there to record the work produced by your artist’s colony. As the game progresses you’ll also start to earn money from your works. With this money you can then start to upgrade existing surrounding services, including buildings, garden features and more.

Artist Colony is a beautiful situational simulation title with vibrant visuals. While I thought the game could beneift from more features, including the ability to create your own in-game characters and overall gameplay length to be a little short coming in at just under 24 hours, I found that the attention to detail within the game, coupled with a great storyline and in-game control mechanics made Artist Colony an enjoyable experience.

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