Virtual Families 3 Review: A fun game spoiled by the pay-to-play elements

Not worth spending on the game

“Your own little family inside your device!” is the gimmick that Virtual Families 3 highlights when you first download the game. In the vast genre of life-simulation games, the Virtual Families series is one that’s been around since 2009. So, how does the third installment in the decade-old franchise hold up? Let’s see it this Virtual Families 3 Review.

Your humble beginnings start by adopting a human

Yes, you read that correctly. In order to begin your journey, you start by selecting one of the many random characters. As you might have guessed already, the characters are randomly generated by the selection screen. The attributes of your character will be such as their career, age, whether they’re willing to have children, and so on and so forth. If you initially get a character you’re not too keen on playing as you can re-roll and see which others you’re fated for. We were particularly amused by one character who had a profession as a soup inventor, yet had soup as one of her dislikes. 

Virtual Families 3 Review

From there onwards you set up your home and allow your small human to go about their lives. Except, for the most part, players are the ones in charge of instructing them what to do. The characters can be dragged and dropped across the house and instructed to do tasks according to what’s nearby them. For example, if your house is a mess, it’s up to you to pick up your character and plop them down to tidy up the laundry that’s strewn across the floor. If they’re hungry, you need to drag them to the refrigerator so they can eat. This makes the characters seem more like pets rather than humans, since the character you’re playing as isn’t exactly a portrayal of you.

Average gameplay and a disappointing paywall

The presets your character has, in the beginning, will determine some vital parts of gameplay. Whether or not your character wants children can affect your relationship with your partner in the future. It’s a given that you can get married and have children in this game. And what’s more, those children can have children as well, creating multiple generations of characters. It’s definitely a plus that same-sex marriage is an option, so kudos for the inclusion.

The main way to earn coins in Virtual Families 3 is by having the characters earn salaries from their professions. Well, that and by watching ads. Since the rate at which you can earn your coin is every 24 hours, saving money can only be done at a snail’s pace. What’s worse is that instead of spending your hard-earned cash on house upgrades, you’ll have to break the bank on repairs for plumbing and appliances. You can access most of these upgrades upon unlocking a new generation. This is where the pay-to-play aspect kicks in and gets really disappointing. 

Of course, the game isn’t all grief. Players that enjoy decorating can design their house to wills and even garden away to their heart’s content. There are other mechanics that are more pleasing, such as the fact that characters can fall sick or even get hiccups, or even ghosts that are former residents of the house you live in that haunt the place.

Virtual Families 3 Review

That being said, however, the instructions on how to play the game are rather under the limit. We are assuming the game is a lot more welcoming to those familiar with the previous installations of the series, but we did not enjoy having to look up a guide for the most part. There’s also the fact that you can’t play the game offline. This may be a dealbreaker for a lot of mobile gamers. 

Jarring graphics yet subtle music

Virtual Families 3 has something odd going on with its graphics. For the most part, the textures and furnishings all have a look of realism to them, yet the character models themselves look rather cartoonish. What freaked me out the most at my initial glance at the game was the eyes that all the people had. They look ridiculously bug-like and are a tad bit too creepy for my taste. But depending on each of your tastes and preferences, you might be ok with them.

There isn’t any voice acting of the sort, and characters usually express things with one word – Oh. At first, it’s something we found hilarious, but their voices sound like text-to-speech software and can get stale pretty fast. The background music for the game is on the much more pleasant side of things and doesn’t distract from the gameplay. It stays subtle enough, however, the rest of the sound design leaves a lot.

Virtual Families 3 Review Final Thoughts

Overall, we’d say your experience with Virtual Families 3 varies from player to player. It’s a game that leans more on the pay-to-play side of things and needs a lot of polish in some of its mechanics. Perhaps it’s worth a try, but don’t expect it to keep you occupied for a long time.

Did you find this Virtual Families 3 Review useful? If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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