Akimi Village Hands-On at E3
Akimi Village, developed by Ninja Bee in conjunction with SOE is coming to your PS3 - and it takes all their Keflings know-how and brings it into a new, if very similar title. Dropped into Akimi Village with more questions than answers - about how you got there, for starters - you quickly become acquainted with a wise old raccoon-looking guy and a half dozen little Akimi, there to help you bring life and light back to the island. The village will never come under attack, no defense towers will be built, you won't see so much as a rabid squirrel - the only possible enemy to your Akimi is your management skills.
If you've played Keflings you know what's going on in this game-with-a-god-complex. There's no traditional conflict, only the threat of Gloom, and definitely no Game Over. Unlike Keflings, which was one of the first games to incorporate the new Avatars, you simply choose a male or female character in Akimi Village. With the goal of purifying the mysterious floating island as this friendly giant with sandals on your feet and a flower in your hair (yes, you're a very laid back, Jack Johnson sort of giant) you skip around drop-kicking Akimi and swatting them about the face. No, the game isn't violent, but it isn't without some corporal feedback.
Assigning the Akimi tasks is as simple as dropping them on the resource you want them to harvest (like bamboo or stone), then using those resources to construct buildings (like a farm) is all part of the game's progression. As you acquire more Akimi and your village grows, management skills are tested. Profession changes for the little Akimi are achieved with a slap to the face, prompting them to switch career paths, color and costume. Seriously, you swat them in the face. Kicking the little guys and gals is more of a recreational pursuit with the occasional benefit of getting them to a destination faster - and while no Trophies have been announced, I'd bet money there's one related to kicking Akimi.
Like Keflings, you can build just about anywhere, but you do have to follow the blueprint schematic for component locations, and certain buildings require specific land features like waterfront. Building construction nets you Culture, which can be used to unlock seeds, which are your chief weapon against the Gloom as planting them grows trees that fight the evil darkness. Bring light to the shadows and those Akimi join your crusade!
It's in actions like construction and resource management that Keflings players will appreciate the tweaks and changes manifested in Akimi Village. It's hard to escape the roots, but instead of merely porting Keflings Ninja Bee has made this new-but-not title. Yes, Akimi Village is really its own game, with all the Kefling experience resulting in this improved, more polished iteration. Improvements include streamlined Akimi tasking and their profession-indicating ensembles, the ability to quickly bring up blueprints in a small window in the upper right, and the indication within a workshop of how many of each component you need to create. Additionally, resources can be accessed from any building, and resources (like hay) with a fixed output per day can be easily monitored.
From the interface changes to the increased ease of management and construction, PS3-only owners firing up a Ninja Bee title for the first time get to revel in the fruits of hard-earned experience. For a game that's playable by kids and adults, Akimi Village is a 10 on the cuteness scale. Bright and pretty, it will take the truly hardcore - you know, those of us that play Viva Pinata and trade special Roarios like the Achievement whores we are - to see past the saccharine trappings to the Akimi core.
Akimi Village hits PSN today.