GodFinger (iPad, coming soon to iPhone/iPod Touch)

[At the time of this writing, GodFinger for iPhone/iPod Touch is available in some places but not others. You can find out if it’s available at your app store here.]

GodFinger is an odd mash-up of casual game, Populous and a splash of social gaming. The idea here is that you rule over a small 2D world. Kind of a cute Flatland place. When you start the game you’ll find a fairly barren world with a few people wondering aimlessly, and clouds and sun drifting overhead. Your job is to bend the people to your will and modify the world to suit your whims.

Luckily you have a GodFinger! By touching and ‘charging’ a cloud or the sun, you can call down rain or sunshine. Doing so causes vegetation to sprout up and these little people to start worshipping you. You can also terraform the planet, raising and lowering land to form mountains and lakes. If you cause it to rain a lot in one area a jungle will slowly form. Avoid raining on an area, and apply plenty of sun, and soon you’ll have a desert. This is all mostly for fun, although if you create a lake your followers can fish out of it, and gain a trickle of energy that way.

All of these actions costs you mana, one of 3 resources. Mana recharges over time, and your mana pool increases as you level up. The mana limitation means GodFinger is a ‘short session’ game; the kind of thing you’ll play for a few minutes, several times a day. There is a totem on your world that you can order followers to worship at, and this will increase your mana recharge rate somewhat, but running out of Mana is the normal cause for a sesion to end.

The next resource is gold. You have a starting pool of gold which you’ll use to buy some buildings. Buying a building just lays a foundation; you then drop some followers onto it and they’ll complete the structure over time. In order to earn gold from the building, it’ll need workers (again, drop followers onto it) and some kind of power source. Power comes from sun, rain or lightning, and you call each of these down from the heavens, spending your mana to do so.

The last resource is Awe. You get this by spending real-world cash, or building it up via leveling and generally playing the game. I’ve yet to feel any need to buy Awe. You can spend Awe on gold, automatic building completion and other ‘miracles.’

So now you have some buildings staffed by followers and you’ve used your mana to power up the buildings. It’s time to sit back and relax for a while. The buildings will produce stacks of gold. Tap on these to collect them. Leave them laying around too long and they’ll rust away. As your followers work, they lose energy, and finally will just shut down from exhaustion.

As a mostly benevolent GodFinger, you can refresh your followers in several ways. You can build them tents to rest in. Tents require no power but take a while to work their magic. Alternatively you can build fountains for your followers to drink from. These need to be powered by rain, but they revive your followers much more swiftly. These little guys and gals love to drink, farting and belching constantly while they do so.

Almost everything you do in GodFinger earns you experience. Using a power, collecting gold, sometimes even from growing an unusual plant… experience comes in at a slow but steady pace. As you level up you unlock new & improved buildings, more potent powers, more followers and your world even grows.

As for the social aspect, if you have friends playing you can add their worlds to your universe. You can zoom out of your planet until you can see others. Interactions between friends’ planets are fairly spartan. You can “Enchant” one of their followers and once your friend accepts the enchantment you’ll get a trickle of gold from them. And once a day you can send a (pre-set) gift to a single friend. And that’s about the extent of the social stuff at this point. Basically if you don’t have any friends playing, don’t worry that you’re missing out.

GodFinger is free to play (aside from optionally purchasing Awe). I actually think the developers misjudged things here. There are a few inconspicuous ads in various parts of the game, and presumably they make some money from those, but I just see no reason to buy Awe, which I assume is intended to be the main revenue stream.

GodFinger is a lot of fun to play for a while. I’m currently level 26 (of 50) and sadly I’ve more or less run out of content. I have every building unlocked and I’ve got more gold than I know what to do with. As I keep leveling my powers will grow stronger but I’m not convinced I need them to be stronger.

I’d like to think the devs will keep adding content, but presumably that would depend on a solid revenue stream. Maybe I’m an anomaly and other people are buying lots of Awe. I hope so.

Still, free is free and it’s well worth a download, even if you ultimately decide it isn’t for you. Just messing around with your planet, creating floods and deserts and seeing what you can get to grow, can be fun.