Familiar Ville: a lushly-presented take on the pet care genre
Familiar Ville is a new Facebook-based pet care game from Korean developer Iustice, Inc. Despite its generic name, it’s worth checking out if only to see the striking difference made by deviating from the common, simple cartoon visual style which many Facebook games favor. Featuring lush, detailed backgrounds and a cast of memorable, quirky characters, the game makes a bold effort to set itself apart from its many competitors — at least in its aesthetic.
Familiar Ville puts players in control of a small house which will eventually become populated with a variety of pets and things for them to do. After choosing and naming a pet with which to start their collection, the player is led through a brief tutorial explaining the basic concepts of the game, which include how to generate food for pets and batteries to power the toys which entertain them. The training of pets to perform increasingly-complex tricks is also introduced, and within a few minutes the player is let loose in the house to begin managing their fledgling pet empire.
Familiar Ville requires players to keep track of quite a few things at once in order to be as successful as possible. Pets have both hunger and cleanliness statistics, which can be managed by feeding and bathing them. Feeding pets requires the production of food using food creator machines, while toys — the game’s primary source of income — require batteries in order to work. When pets play with a toy, the item becomes “charged” with coins which can then be collected, but at this point it must be recharged with additional batteries.
The game incorporates an unusual “combo” system to encourage players to time their collections carefully — collecting items which drop to the floor gradually fills a meter as the number collected in rapid succession increases. Upon reaching certain milestones, the player receives a bonus to the rewards they have collected, meaning that players with a wide variety of pets and income-producing items in their virtual home will be able to rack up some massive bonuses easily. The simple addition of this arcade-style feature adds an element of light strategy and timing to the game which is not seen in many other similar examples of the genre.
Where Familiar Ville really stands out is in the art and presentation. The game features detailed backdrops, animations and an unusual cast of characters delivering the various quests and challenges the player is presented with. Rather than the generic, dull characters seen in many other Facebook games, Iustice has taken the time to infuse each of these characters with visual distinctiveness and their own personality quirks. A likeable cast and good writing can be a strongly contributing factor in encouraging users to return after an initial “trial run” of the game.
The pet genre may be one of the most over-saturated categories on Facebook, but Familiar Ville is a solid game. At this time, there are not many items for players to purchase with hard currency, though players may also top up their soft currency reserves using Facebook Credits if they want to make quicker progress. With a wider variety of monetization strategies coupled with a strong drive for user acquisition through various channels, Familiar Ville has a lot of potential for success despite a slow start so far.
Familiar Ville has picked up just 600 monthly active users and 200 daily active users since its launch on February 20. To follow its progress, check out AppData, our traffic tracking service for social games and developers.
A good game that features some lovely presentation and gameplay innovations, but which is yet to prove it has the “legs” for long-term success.