[Review] Vilmonic, a Sandbox Evolution/Artificial Life Simulator

Vilmonic was created by Bludgeonsoft. We’ve been corresponding with this talented one-person developer, and are super grateful for the chance to give it a shot.

Here we go.

.Story.
There isn’t one, really. You’re a scientist of sorts, who seeks to take one species and evolve it into several more. This comes up during the tutorial and is never mentioned again.

.Gameplay.
You use WASD to move and spacebar to use whatever is highlighted in your inventory. Your inventory is hot-keyed to the numerical keys 1-0, with 20 additional inventory slots if you expand the menu.

The objective of the game is to plant fungols, which serve as food for your critters, and to build and craft while nature takes its course. Over time, the fungols will grow in a variety of colours and in turn will cause your species to diversify in their evolutions.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

The build menu can be accessed through the wrench icon on the menu on the right side of the screen and each item requires you to place your materials in the order shown by the recipe. Your newly crafted item must be dragged into your inventory in order for you to use it.

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Crafting Menu

The craft-able items include building pieces such as floors and walls, tools like shovels and axes which help you to terraform, and soda pop, which allows you to speed up the passage of time. Additionally, you can dig up and spread radiation in order to speed up mutation of your species.

You are also given the option to customize your character’s appearance which, while purely cosmetic, can result in some zany looking combinations.

The game has enemies (?) which are more humanoid critters that wander about and strike you if you’re in range, but since you lack an ability to fight back, it’s best if you just avoid them. Their purpose is a little unclear outside of being nuisances.

Check out our gameplay here.
.Atmosphere.
There’s a quiet ambience to Vilmonic that not everyone will enjoy. The music that plays—annoyingly enough on a loop—while on the title screen doesn’t carry over when you start the game. Instead, your movements are punctuated by sound effects that are familiar in their retro-ness.

The brightly-coloured pixel art works well with the subject matter, allowing for cutesy, quirky critters that are both unique and interesting in appearance.

.Longevity.
As with most sandbox games, Vilmonic’s longevity is almost entirely up to the player. There are no objectives beyond the ones you set for yourself, which means it’s up to you when you’ve finished the game.

Are you content to fiddle around until you’ve seen ‘em (the evolutions, that is) all? Do you enjoy cultivating neat gardens and creating a little world of your own? Is your idea of fun Because if games that give you a how-to guide and then set you loose aren’t your thing, then Vilmonic isn’t for you.

.Pros and Cons.

  • Cute, brightly-coloured pixel graphics.
  • The concept is unique.
  • A peaceful experience, for the most part. Easy to pick up and put down with no real consequence for trying random things.
  • Evolutions are strange and interesting.
  • A break-down species—what sort of environment they like, what generation they are, how many offspring they’ve produces, and their lifespan—is available.
  • The ability to customize your character, despite lacking any practical applications.
  • No real sense of direction. The tutorial gives you the barebones of how to play, but doesn’t really help you figure out what needs to be done.
  • It takes a good while for species to evolve on their own and there’s no way to speed up time via the UI.
  • No in-game music. It fades away once you leave the title screen.
  • You quickly run out of things to do besides wait after a while. Whether that’s waiting for a new colour of fungol or waiting for a species to mature, much of your game time will be spent idle.
  • The crafting menu is rather sparse. I hope this will be amended in future patches.
  • Enemies (?) have no purpose outside of being nuisances.

.Bottom Line.
Vilmonic is one of those games that you play without really knowing what you’re doing, but you’ll still have a good time doing it. Due to its lack of direction, whether or not you have fun playing it is entirely subject to you, the player.

Steer clear of this game if you have a burning need for clear cut instructions and a goal/quest system. If you enjoy a (mostly) peaceful and simplistic, experimental sort of terraforming experience give Vilmonic a shot.

You can buy the game on Steam here.

Want more updates on the game? Bludgeonsoft has you covered.

Follow our Steam Curator Page for more reviews like this one!

Stay in the know, gamers ❤

~Dawn

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