Meego Village (iOS) review

Meego Village is a new iOS game from A Thinking Ape. It’s available now as a free download in the App Store worldwide after a successful testing period in Canada and Australia.

Meego Village casts players in the role of an overseer for a village of stereotypical mask-wearing “tribal” types called Meegos. Meegos supposedly live inside a volcano, but little reference to this is made beyond the initial humorous introduction sequence — in practice, they live in a large, green, flat tract of land like in most other isometric-perspective village-building games.

However, to immediately write off Meego Village as yet another clone is to do it something of an injustice. While it does certainly have plenty of elements in common with the hundreds of other social games that use similar themes, it also tries a number of interesting new things to varying degrees of success.

The most striking difference from your typical village-building sim is the fact that there is no energy system, and in order to complete tasks you need to ensure there are enough Meegos available. Meegos can be picked up and assigned to new jobs at will, and a big part of the game’s strategy comes from prioritizing the tasks you need completing, because inevitably you never quite have enough Meegos to complete all the jobs there are.

Meegos also level up over time in one of three different areas — by performing manual labor, they increase their strength; by performing mentally-demanding tasks such as inventing items, they increase their intelligence; by visiting other players’ villages, they increase their charisma. Increasing these stats — which takes a rather long time — allows the Meegos to perform their jobs more efficiently. For example, strong Meegos will harvest resources quicker, which means the player is able to build more structures.

Meegos grow old over time and eventually die, so in order for the player’s village to survive it’s necessary to breed. Dragging a male and a female Meego together will cause them to perform a “mating dance,” assuming there is space available in residential structures. Once the baby is born, the player must then wait for it to mature to 18 years of age before it is able to take on jobs of its own, though this delay, like other wait times in the game, may be bypassed by expending hard currency.

There’s a lot to do in Meego Village, and thankfully very little of it involves checking in on the village and doing nothing but tapping on buildings with icons above them every few hours. The Meegos will mostly take care of themselves, but ensuring they are assigned to a good selection of jobs means that there will be plenty of possibilities available upon the next login — perhaps the Meego sitting atop the “Thinking Rock” will have invented a new item and the others will have collected enough resources to build it, allowing you to outfit the village with some new equipment to boost its efficiency.

The game provides players with a generous initial allocation of hard currency and while it does not explicitly push the player in the direction of spending it, some of the game’s early quests practically require it to be used to bypass wait times or purchase enough resources to proceed. The “Stone” resource in particular builds up very slowly through normal harvesting procedures, meaning that an early quest involving building a stone-heavy “Launch Pad” is best achieved by spending hard currency — particularly as the Launch Pad is an important structure that allows for the visiting of other players.

All in all, while Meego Village initially appears to be yet another in the long line of uninspired village builders, delving into it a little reveals a game with a considerable amount of charm and interest, even for those who have long grown weary of the “sim” genre. Its audio-visual style has a lot of character — stereotypical “witch doctor” character designs aside — and it does a good job of making the player feel like what they do actually matters, rather than simply requiring them to check in and tap on everything every few hours. It has strong potential for future monetization, too, and introduces the use of hard currency to players in a natural, organic manner that does not seem in the least bit obtrusive. There’s a lot of good examples that other developers should follow in this game, in short.

As a brand new release, Meego Village is not yet ranked on the App Store leaderboards. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

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Despite the over-worn premise, Meego Village has a lot of charm and sets some good example for future “sim” titles to follow.

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