The folks over at Fusion Creative Studios and BigVoice Unlimited have been trying to do something different with Facebook virtual space games. The name of their effort is Inheritance, a game that diverges from the normal route of building up a space of one’s own to give players a pre-packaged, full blown mansion. The catch is that the place is falling apart.
Beyond the modified virtual space idea, Inheritance also seems to revolve around the story of the dearly departed relative that left their home to the player. Filled with curious means of progression and income, the app’s exploration and discovery element plays a close second to the actual virtual space. That said, the game does suffer from a clunky micromanagement system, so despite its more interesting elements it has attracted only a handful of players so far.
When we Inheritance’s house is falling apart, we mean it is really falling apart. As soon as the game starts, the player is dropped into a single bedroom that is an absolute disaster of broken furniture, rusted metal, dirty floors, and virtually everything else one might find in Martha Stewart’s worst nightmares. The idea is to grow the home’s value back up to what it once was in its prime, and doing so consists of cleaning and decorating.
Truth be told, decoration takes a back seat to cleaning the three-dimensional space. Players can visit various stores and purchase a vast variety of furnishings that will not only sate the user’s own creative palette, but increase the value of the home itself. That said, it might be cheaper just to clean things up.
When starting the game, virtually every item in the bedroom must be fixed or cleaned. To do so, players purchase proper cleaning materials to fix it up. Upon dragging the corresponding tool or cleaner to the object, it will begin automatically fixing itself. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, and other times, a few hours. Of course, multiple items can be cleaned or fixed simultaneously, but only up to three.
Each task also takes a set amount of energy to accomplish, adding another limiting factor to the game. Even if users wanted to clean more than three items at a time, they usually cannot do much more than that anyway. In order to replenish energy, however, users can visit the kitchen and eat every couple of hours.
This leads us to the micromanagement system of Inheritance, and its major downside. The game attempts to make itself far too realistic, in that every single nuance and step from reality seems to play a role here. To eat, players must visit the kitchen, then drag food to the plate. To clean metal, they need metal cleaner, to clean couches, they need fabric cleaner, to clean mirrors, they need glass cleaner. The list goes on, with about two dozen more different types of cleaners, tools, and utilities that are needed to spruce up all the items in disrepair.
In addition to all of this, cleaning and repairing will also make the user and their clothes “dirty” tasking them with doing laundry or taking a shower, which, once again, uses specific shampoos, conditioners, detergents, and so on. It’s unclear why these mechanics seemed interesting to the developers. There are so many little steps to take in Inheritance that it becomes very cumbersome. Nothing is very convenient.
As a side note, it is worth noting that many of the items in question are branded goods.
As players do fix up the house and level up, new rooms become available, and it is actually quite gratifying to watch the veritable disaster area become beautiful again. Along with the ability to decorate with one’s own style in 3D, it can become very nice looking. In order to pay, though, players will need to find hidden treasures and antiques around the home to sell. Typically, these sell for a lot, but they are not always found frequently, so it is ill advised to spend frivolously on furniture.
Beyond the above mechanics, the story element is also important to Inheritance. This comes in the form of letters or manuscripts about the past resident, Genevieve, and her life in the home. It’s actually quite interesting as a sort of love story, but it is hard to say if the narrative will generate appeal for the average Facebook user.
As for the social mechanics, these appear to be fairly limited. Most prominent is a basic leaderboard system centered around overall house value and the ability to visit one another’s’ virtual spaces. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much beyond this, and as the game is still in beta, it is a bit buggy at the moment. So far, the people we’ve invited to play have not yet shown up in leaderboard, so we‘ve been unable to confirm any extra features (or even if you can visit a friend’s house).
Overall, Inheritance seems like an interesting idea that takes progression in a virtual space and turns it on its head. Rather than building a world up oneself, it is already presented and cleaned up in a fairly gratifying way. Nonetheless, the current state of the game requires far too much micromanagement and takes too much time focusing on apparent realism rather than more convenient fun, making the game feel very bloated and cumbersome. Unfortunately, it is these clunky mechanics that take away from the game to the point that many will likely not stick around after the initial play through. That said, the game is still in its early stages, so changes and upgrades are still on the way.