capsule review

A Llama, a World and a Plan

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder A Llama, a World and a Plan

Sometimes the complexity of our lives makes a llama's simple life seem appealing...and the llama no doubt longs for coffee shops, shrubbery, and a nice castle. In StefanT's browser-based, civilization-building simulation A Llama, a World and a Plan, you play a llama who would be king. By copying his neighbors' agriculture and architecture, even a South American camelid can become a grand monarch.

A quirky sense of humor elevates A Llama, a World and a Plan above the usual build-structure-harvest-something-build-something-bigger cycle. Your protagonist is indeed a llama who inherits a miserable tract of land from his father. The first "buildings" you learn to make are Cactus, Cultivated Wasteland, and the pathetic Fishing Puddle. As your llama pushes his city to grander heights, he can acquire such modern edifices as Stars Coffee and the Apricot Store ("Technology's latest models for a price. A big price.")

The game maintains this whimsical attitude towards the interface as well. The "Build" icon is reminiscent of a Lego block. When you copy a structure from a neighboring town, it shows something very like Window's paper-and-manila-folder copying animation. Kevin MacLeod's droll music easily dispels any notion of taking A Llama, a World and a Plan too seriously.

A Llama, a World and a Plan isn't hard to learn; the game teaches you as you go, with the first neighboring town basically serving as a tutorial. You level up your llama through logical steps laid out in the game itself. However, some elements of the gameplay could use tweaking. The game window works best in a bigger browser window, and it doesn't scroll; this left me frequently dragging the map back and forth so I could get the llama to the more distant buildings. More frustrating, though, is the inability to save progress and come back later. A casual game becomes less casual when it has to be completed before shutting down the PC.

Despite its sometimes-awkward gameplay, A Llama, a World and a Plan is a lot of fun. It kept me happily clicking, and even rewarded me with a moral at the end of the llama's story. I don't see a great deal of replay value in a game that can't be saved, but for one lazy evening, it's well worth exploring the llama's world and helping him execute his plan.

Note: To play this game, you must follow the link and open it in a Flash- and Javascript-enabled browser. After a brief ad video, you can play the game online. This game was a notable entry in the Casual Gameplay Design Competition. Read PCWorld's reviews of winning and notable casual games from this contest.

--Laura Blackwell

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder A Llama, a World and a Plan

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