Stylista is a fashion-themed Facebook game from Thai developer Sandbox Global. The title has been available in open beta for some time now, but showed up as the No. 4 top emerging Facebook game last week.
Stylista casts players in the role of a woman who’s recently arrive in New York and focuses on the growth of the player character’s “style” through shopping, decorating and social interactions. Gameplay largely revolves around visiting shops to purchase new clothing items and accessories, completing non-interactive real-time “jobs” to earn money and fulfilling the requirements for various quests in order to progress through the game’s light story.
The game begins with the player designing a custom avatar. This may only be female, though the player does not seem to be referred to by name at all in the game. A fairly limited choice of appearance options is provided at the outset, though players are able to unlock additional hair, eye, makeup and eyebrow styles as they progress through the game and earn money.
When shopping, players are able to “try on” various outfits simply by dragging them from the shop screen to their avatar, and then may purchase them using one of the game’s two currencies. Upon purchasing an item, players are rewarded with “style points,” which are used to unlock new districts and shops to visit. Hard currency items tend to offer considerably more style points than those purchased with soft currency. Hard currency may be acquired with Facebook Credits, credit card, mobile phone or PayPal, though for card, phone or PayPal payments the game’s interface only displays real money prices in Thai baht rather than dollars until the actual Facebook pay window pops up.
A lot of content in the game is friend-gated. An early quest requires players to invite a friend to the game in order to progress, and the expansion of the player’s room — required to store all their purchases — also requires the “assistance” of actively playing friends to complete, or the expenditure of hard currency.
The game provides some mildly diverting entertainment for a short period, discounting the fact that the whole experience is based around one big female stereotype. There are quite a few significant problems, however. When tested, attempting to visit a friend’s home would often hang the game at a loading screen. Reloading the game often resets the player avatar’s outfit to its default appearance which, for some reason, doesn’t have any feet. This issue also causes the player to end up with a duplicate outfit and the loss of some of their purchases — a major issue if the player has bought items with hard currency.
Stylista, then, needs some major improvements in order to secure any degree of long-term success. Even if the above issues were fixed, there’s not really enough in the way of interesting content to make the game particularly worthwhile in the long term. Dressing up the player avatar is quite fun but will quickly lose its appeal for players, particularly as there are plenty of completely free “dress up” games available on the Web and mobile devices. The non-interactive money-earning jobs take large amounts of time and have nothing to distinguish them bar the amount of time they take to complete and their rewards — there are no unique animations depicting the character working, for example, and thematically they make no sense, since it’s possible for the player to go out shopping while they are supposedly working.
Buggy, limited and built on a predictable female stereotype, this is one to give a miss.