Farmscapes is a combination of "Match 3", Adventure and Hidden Objects Games, published by Playrix Entertainment.
Release Date: 10 Jun 2011
~ Story ~
Tom is a young boy that lives in a cozy little town and he is looking forward for the summer holidays. He is very excited to finish school and have free time to play his favourite video game on his computer. His parents are worrying about him spending so much time in front of his computer and they decide to send him to his grandfather's farm for the rest of the summer.
His grandfather Joe owns a small farm house in the countryside and lives a simple life growing vegetables and fruits in his farm. When Tom goes to the farm he is sad and disappointed but soon he is motivated to restore and redecorate the place with the help of his grandpa. During his stay, the farm is threatened by an architect who is planning to construct a shopping mall in the area. The constructors want to buy Joe's farm to build a parking lot at this location. Despite the pressure of the architects, Tom and Joe are trying to find a solution to keep the property and with the player's help, they discover a rare tree that has grown in the farm. This tree is examined by experienced scientists that show high interest on this new variety that has the impressive ability to grow in one day.
The main characters that are presented in the game is Tom, Joe and Linda. Tom is a very likeable and funny character in the game. He is a chubby little boy that's jumping around the farm with enthusiasm and helps the player solve the various tasks. Joe is a classic farmer, with a thick mustache and a cowboy hat. He takes part to the quests as well and he interacts a lot with Tom and the player. Linda is Joe's neighbour and she appears a few times during the game to offer her opinion or ask for help and give special orders.
~ Gameplay ~
Farmscapes is a puzzle game with mixed "Match 3" games, Hidden Object Games and small challenges where you need to find objects that are hidden in the farm and combine them you get the solution.
The game can be played in two ways, in the timed mode with time limits for completing the levels and the "Casual" mode with no time restrictions.
The "Match 3" games are played on a tile board of various shapes. The board has golden boxes on some tiles and it is filled with products of Joe's farm (vegetables, fruits, milk, flowers, honey, eggs). The goal is to match the products that are on the gold boxes, because those are the only goods that can be sold to the market. In order to win the level, you need to clear all the gold boxes within the time limit.
The player clicks on the tiles to move the products to an adjacent box with the purpose to create groups of 3 or more identical items horizontally or vertically. When the goods are matched, they disappear from the board and other products fall from the top and take their place. Extended combinations of five or more items give you bomb awards that can be used for extra help on the board. The earnings depend on the gold boxes that you clear, the amount of time you spent on each level and the amount of food that you collect. Also, people that buy your products leave tips that are added to the total earnings at the end of each level. In the "Timed Mode" you get bonus from any unused time. After every game of this type, you are taken back from the market to the farm to proceed with the redecoration of the farm and watch the short videos of the story.
The Hidden objects games take place in the storage shed, the rooms of the house, the living room, the kitchen or the bathroom. There is a list of objects that you are required to find and for each item you spot, the corresponding name on the list is crossed and another item appears on its place. The advanced levels have more items but you are also rewarded with more money for completing them.
The mini adventures are introduced between the main games. They require from the player to complete several small goals that need intermediate steps, with the help of Tom, Joe and their dog. This part of the game was particularly interesting and it made me think of the logic steps that I would follow to solve the tasks.
In the above hidden objects games there are hints available. To use them you must click on the jar to release the butterfly that flies to the remaining objects that you are looking for.
The earnings are used to buy items for the farm (like beehives, a chicken coop, fences, a windmill etc.) and redecorate it. In the upgrade menu, you have a variety of items to choose for the farm in different price ranges, so you can decorate it according to your taste and money. As the player goes in higher levels, the updates become more expensive and you need to play 3-4 games to earn enough money for one decoration. Gradually, the farm is transformed in a beautiful place.
There is also a trophy room where you collect all the awards that you receive for several achievements when you help your neighbours or when you complete the adventures.
When the farm game is completed and the goal is achieved, some extra features are unlocked. At this point, the game also gives you the option to start a new farm from the beginning. The player can create and redecorate up to three farms.
~ Extras ~
The game includes the following extra features:
*Wallpapers - 11 wallpapers of the game are available in various sizes.
*Screensaver - After restoring the farm, the player is rewarded with an animated 3D screensaver of Joe's farm.
*Bonus levels - 30 bonus levels become available after completing the game. For each level you collect stars according to the score that you achieve. To get the expert score for all the bonus games you must collect 90 stars in total (3 from each level).
*Soundtracks - 9 music tracks of the game are provided: Country Paradise, Farmer's Market, Match to Win, New Adventure, Old Farm, Play Play, Summer Breeze, Sunlight Solo, Veggie Dance.
~ Graphics and Sound ~
The visual design of the game is excellent, the objects are clear and highly detailed and the colours are bright. The graphics are beautiful in all aspects and there is a good humour in the dialogues between the characters. Each time that you wait for a new game to start funny pictures appear, with smart quotes at the bottom. I really liked the sound as well. It is very relaxing and it fits perfectly with the game and the environment of the farm. The tracks of the game are available as audio files in the extras as mentioned above.
~ My opinion ~
I like that the game has two modes, with and without time limits. I always play this kind of games in the Timed Mode but it is a good extra to be able to change between the timed and the relaxed version without losing the progress of the game. The game levels become increasingly more complex but you gather more money from completing them. I get easily addicted to this type of games and I couldn't stop playing this one. I found this increasing level of difficulty quite challenging especially in the higher levels where except from simply matching the items, you also need to think ahead of the moves that you need to perform and make the best use of the bonuses.
The variety of the different tasks, from seek and find type of quests to collect money and upgrade the farm was also a pleasant surprise.
There is a small issue with the loading times, especially when you finish each level and you are transferred back to the farm. However, the pictures and the humorous captions were really entertaining when I was waiting for the levels to load. Finally, the characters are funny and they interact with each other and with the player.
The Farmscapes (Collector's Edition) game is available on Amazon.co.uk from £3.98 .
~ Conclusion ~
Overall, it is an amusing and challenging "Match 3" game with great graphics, suitable for all ages. I highly recommend this game.
Thank you for reading!
This review is also posted on ciao under the name "sweetybi"
Farmscapes is a combination of Match 3, Adventure and Hidden Objects Games, published by Playrix Entertainment.