VV4 is similar to the previous versions but this one is extremely Pantheistic. It focuses on the "Tree of Life", which is almost dead and the villagers must heal it. To do this they must first restore the water flow to it from the blocked stream and remove an infected limb; there are stages of healing. Then they must "purify" their minds by using transcendental meditation ("only the pure of mind and body can purify the tree") and taking a soapy bath (for which you figure out how to create the soap). They must also "honor the tree", and "contemplate the tree" (worship it). Basically Eastern mysticism. The tree is deified as the source of life in this game. You can also build a school for the villagers but you cant choose what they are taught; they are taught reading, writing, music, and magic. There is also a mausoleum in the game and one of the goals is to collect all 12 of the missing tiles which make up a very creepy picture composed of what look like skeletons with hideous faces which are pulling people down into the grave/hell. I found this part to be very morbid, sinister, creepy, just plain disturbing- and would not want this for a child. The focus on death in this particluar game included having the ghosts of deceased villagers randomly appear in the game (as spirit guides to "hidden" objects).
Like previoous versions of VV, there are three levels to achieve in the game. Unfortunately, once all three levels in each area are reached, there is nothing much left to do with all the tech points you have left over! One is left wishing that there were more than just three levels for each area (areas include Science, Building, Learning, Dendrology, Medicine, and Food).
The graphics of the game are wonderful and even beautifully done, with some very unique, inventive, and challenging goals to figure out as well. However, as it advanced it began to feel like the goal of the game's creators was indoctrination in Eastern religion or Pantheism. Or, it may all just be marketing towards the interest that kids often have towards ghosts and magical or supernatural things. Whatever the case, I sadly cannot recommend it as any better than previous versions and have given it a 3 (good marks for graphics and technical merit).