We took a look at Pixel People a couple of weeks ago, after it had been renamed from its original title of After Earth. Right away, it was clear that the premise of this little sim game had a great hook: rebuild society from the genetic material of Earth, pixel by pixel. Now that I've had a couple of days to mess around with it, I will say this -- the guys at LambdaMu Games are here to give NimbleBit a run for their money with Pixel People. The title firmly places itself alongside other pixelated sim games like Pocket Planes and Tiny Tower, offering just as much fun and depth as those well-established titles.
Pixel People does this by offering the best of element combining puzzle games (like Pocket God), and city building sim games (like Farmville). After you boot it up for the first time, Pixel People lets you dive right in to things. There's not much to it at first, with many of the actions required for setting up your new society fed right to you. You start off with two things: a Mayor and a Mechanic. Just the things that any new town needs to lay its societal bedrock. If you combine the two, you will get an option to create an Engineer. With your new Engineer, you can make another new character by combining him with the Mayor to form an Architect.
This is where a lot of the fun of the game lies, mixing and matching different jobs and professions to unlock new ones. There are 150 different ones to go for -- everything from a Receptionist to a Baker (though I wasn't able to find a Butcher or a Candle-stick maker anywhere in the game). The combinations are really clever and make sense. Combine a Historian and a Mechanic and you will get a Watchmaker. Combine a Scientist and Mathematician and you will get a Physicist (who also looks like Albert Einstein).
The thing is, you will also need buildings in order to get your new pixel people. Each time you get a new profession, the building that goes along with it is also unlocked. The town building starts out with the Engineer, who gives you plans for a Utopium Mine. The mine generates coins which you can then collect and spend on creating buildings. Which you will need to, you know, repopulate Earth and all.
Once you're going at a good clip, you will be tapping all over the place to keep up. The game stays at this pace for a good while too and will eat up lots of your time if you want to give it over. (Like all good freemium games.) But there is a point, again like all good freemium games, where you hit a speed trap and the game slows way down.
For Pixel People, it's somewhere between 50 and 100 jobs where the game starts to get a little sluggish. Of course, you can alleviate that if you want to make some in-app purchases. And if you're in it for the long haul and want to unlock all 150 jobs, you will likely do so at some point.
But the road to that slowing down point is full of lots of fun. And it's not all just mindless poking and coin collecting. There's enough variety here where you can earn more and move faster if you design your town shrewdly and spend your money in a smart way. Though I will admit, it's hard not to succumb to a dreaded case of Layout Fever and continually re-arrange everything just the way you want it.
Another interesting aspect to this game is the element of building love between your pixeled people. It's not anything too in-depth really, but rather a fun little mini-game that lets you get extra coins in the form of surprise presents (which can sometimes be animals). In terms of the universe of the game, it also makes a little bit of sense in that you will need your new society to form bonds with one another if they're going to procreate for the future. You can't just be clonin' the whole time! It just isn't the same as what you get from a little of the au naturel.
If any freemium sim titles hold a place on your iOS device, you will definitely want to give Pixel People a try. But don't forget you're saving humanity here! This isn't supposed to be fun. Rebuilding from the post-apocalyptic future is going to be hard work!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm busy trying to combine an Athlete and an Actor to get a Wrestler. He's going to be wearing a little pixelated Luchador mask.