Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children is a sequel to Virtual Villagers: A New Home, last year's popular downloadable game developed by Last Day of Work (www.ldw.com). The Lost Children starts where A New Home left off, with two villagers exploring a passage through a cave. The villagers arrive at another part of the island and discover a group of five children struggling to survive.
In this life simulation game, you guide this group of two adults and five children as they learn how to survive and multiply. You also help them to solve 16 puzzles including how to make fire, build a dam, fashion tools, discover a new species of fish, and much more.
For each villager, you need to find them work they will enjoy doing. You assign them to farm, build, heal, parent, or research; and you can change that assignment as the need arises. Assigning enough villagers to research is important because only they can earn tech points, the currency of the game.
As your tribe accumulates tech points, they can purchase upgrades in farming, engineering, medicine, science, exploration, and culture. Each of these upgrades opens up new gameplay opportunities. For example, by purchasing Level 2 of Engineering Tech, you can build a dam on a stream, which allows you to irrigate crops.
The Lost Children is a "persistent game," which means that your little villagers keep living even after you have turned off their game. While you can pause the game if you are not going to be around, this is a game that is played several weeks. After the initial setup, you will only need to tinker with it for about 10 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Our testers frequently let the game run overnight.
This life simulation game is a good one for kids because it is streamlined and easy to play. By experimenting, kids learn about the interdependencies of food, shelter, and population. If you grow your population too quickly, you will create a famine and have to hunt for new food sources. Likewise, your population won't grow if you don't assign enough villagers to build new shelters.
You don't have to have played the first Virtual Villagers to enjoy this one. But if you have, this one offers all new puzzles, new life events, new game play, including the making of stews from spices found on the island and the collecting of found objects. Another new feature of this game is the ability to play multiple games at once. While you are waiting for one tribe to accumulate enough tech points to upgrade, you can begin another tribe and start to shepherd them through another unique game experience. And for additional challenge, you can set the level of difficulty (which affects how easy it is to get food and avoid disease) on three different levels.
Because this game must be played over time, it teaches patience. It rewards creativity by encouraging players to experiment to solve the puzzles; but it also provides website help at www.virtualvillagers.com in the form of a Strategy and Puzzle Guide.
Download this interesting simulation for your kids, and you may find yourself playing it too.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.