Scenic Summer Villa
Merge Villa, a new merge-puzzle game from 4Enjoy, feels familiar in a bad way. This type of game, in which players merge similar items to create new ones, has increased in popularity over the years. It’s fair to think a developer might consider bringing something new to the table. However, Merge Villa doesn’t implement anything remarkably original. It leans heavily on tropes of other entries in its genre and, in some cases, doubles down on the bad ones. Even then, the game does have a few enjoyable elements. But are they enough to make it worth playing? It depends.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
You’ll begin your stay at Merge Villa with plenty of work on your hands. The caretaker of the villa will give you objectives, such as replacing floorboards or building furniture. Then you’ll move over to the merging board, where you gather tools, décor pieces and other items. Your board space is limited, so it’s a good idea to focus on one objective at a time. Once you’ve got the right items to do the job, you’ll complete the objective. Usually, this results in an option to customize the Villa. For example, fixing up the walls allows you to choose from different wallpaper options, while building a couch lets you change the furniture style. The game is fairly reasonable at first. But once you’ve gotten through a few objectives, it goes off the rails.
In fact, Merge Villa makes exponentially less sense the further you progress into it. For example, at some point after you’ve finished up the living room, the caretaker asks you to call a friend of her grandparents. The requisite item for doing so? A vanity mirror. Once you’re done there, you’ll roll out a carpet in the master bedroom using two photo frames. Of course, these strange requests are just a way to force you to make high-tier items, and they do actually serve a larger purpose, but not one that benefits the player.
Just a few minutes of Merge Villa will give you the understanding that the entire game is based on limits. There’s a limit on how many items you can have on the merging board, but also a limit on how many base materials you can get. For example, a toolbox will only give you a certain amount of screwdrivers before it goes on a timed cooldown. You’ll also have to balance these mechanics with a scarce amount of energy. Additionally, some customization styles cost premium currency. What’s worse is that the premium styles change depending on which item you’re customizing. Free-to-play players will find themselves stuck in a purgatory of mismatched décor. The answer to all of these problems? Cash.
Indeed, nearly every element of Merge Villa is intended to create a sense of scarcity and discontent in order to promote premium transactions. If you pay to reduce the cooldown of a toolbox, you’ll find that you conveniently only have enough energy left to use half of it. Inversely, if you pay to fill your energy bar, you’ll then find that you run out of resources in your toolboxes. And unless you’d like your perfect summer home to look like a furniture auction, you’ll end up shelling out premium currency to maintain a matching décor style. Ideally, this would make the player’s experience more enjoyable. But even without paywalls and pigeonholed design choices, the gameplay still isn’t engaging.
Merge Villa could’ve been a better successor to popular games like Merge Mansion or Merge Dragons. However, with plenty of money traps and gameplay that goes stale in mere minutes, you’d be better off spending your time on a different puzzle game.
Is It Hardcore?
Not even on its best day.
Despite taking ideas from some of the most popular merge titles, Merge Villa falls short in every category.