Review – Avatar Farm is… a Disappointment.

A few days ago I was ridiculously excited by the prospect of Avatar Farm, milkstone’s latest title. They’ve historically made very good games and I’ve historically been a big Harvest Moon geek. All the ingredients were there.

Then I played it.

The basic premise is that on each of the squares you can plant some crops, which then take a certain amount of time to grow (and they really grow, the effect is quite beautiful). You then harvest the crops which will net you more money that you paid, then ???, then profit. Then you repeat the process with ever more profitable crops and you can build farmhouses and various other structures to expand your farm. It’s instantly very addictive indeed and you’ll happily sit for an hour raking in the cash, watering crops and ploughing the land to expand your farm further.

You’ll want to play more, but real life will get in the way and you’ll have to go to school, to work, to bed, to cook dinner, to tend to the kids, and so you’ll save the game and come back later.

Later, you’ll come back and excitedly turn on your Xbox 360, excitedly load the game and sit there in excitement until you realise that your entire farm is dead.

Avatar Farm calculates everything in real-time. If you leave the game alone for six hours, the game still advances time by six hours so any crops that take six hours to grow will be ready to harvest when you go back. Any crops you don’t harvest in time (which could be as little as fifteen minutes) are just killed for no reason other than that milkstone hates you. If you leave something growing when you turn your Xbox 360 off, there’s every chance that you’ll miss your opportunity to harvest it and it’ll be dead when you get back. There’s no gameplay benefit to it at all, it’s just punishment for punishment’s sake.

The punishment is harsh, too. Not only do you lose the amount of coins that you spent to buy the crops, you also lose the money you’d have made from harvesting them and then on top of that, you have to pay another ten coins to actually clear the dead crops away. If milkstone could have coded a kick to your face into their game, I’m sure they’d have done that, too.

SCREW YOU. TRYING TO HAVE A REAL LIFE OUTSIDE OF YOUR FARM, ARE YOU? THAT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN, BITCH.

As I’m writing this, I’m trying to think of a single way in which this benefits the gameplay. Just one. A fail on that count, I’m afraid. If you can think of something, do leave a comment. I’m not expecting comments.

This stupid crop-death mechanic is something we’ve got Farmville to thank for. The issue is that milkstone have just copied it with no thought as to why Farmville uses it. It uses it to tempt idiots into buying things, to keep people playing constantly so that they’ll be there to buy things. It also can (barely) get away with it because the kind of person that plays Farmville is the kind of person that is on Facebook for 98% of their waking hours anyway, so the game is always right there in another tab as they do other things. Expecting people to check in on their Xbox 360 every few minutes is simply unreasonable, because by its very nature it will spend hours at a time doing other things. Who’s expected to stop playing Call of Duty every ten minutes so that their Aloe Vera doesn’t die?

Avatar Farm could have been brilliant, and were it not for this it would have been. The first time you play it is a wonderful experience and you’ll turn it off happy, but once your crops have died one single time you’ll never want to go back again and there’s just no point investing in it at all. Your farm, or the game.

Avatar Farm is available now for 240 Microsoft Points but you would have to be actually insane.

11 Responses to Review – Avatar Farm is… a Disappointment.

  1. Sorry to hear your complaints. The fact that some crops take X time to grow is known, and although there are some crops with a lifespan too short to leave the game and expect them to remain alive when you go back (such as Aloe Vera), there are other plants that allow you to play more slow paced (such as Pumpkins).

    That happened to me as well the first time I played Farmville, because I planted things that only took 2 hours to grow, and didn’t check out until next day. Once the lesson was learned, I planted thinking in advance how much time would take until my next visit to the farm. It’s the same for this game.

    We are going to do some balancing in an update after gathering some feedback, including increasing the time it takes for a plant to die, but the punishment will remain.

  2. Eric says:

    That just seems awful. The little I played of these social farming games was a game called Country Story. It didn’t seem to have crops that die like that, as far as I remember. At the very least they didn’t die in minutes/hours, I don’t know if they’d still be there if you didn’t check for days on end.

    Whatever the case, I don’t really see the point of aping the real time formula on a console. Limiting how much a player can do until a certain amount of real life time passes is just ridiculous for something you’re playing on a console. It’s far more of a hassle to hop in and out of a game on Xbox compared to Facebook. Especially given how slow the dashboard loads every time I exit a game…

    A Harvest Moon style calender/season system would be a lot better. Even without the story aspect, the HM formula still works (Harvest Moon GB, for example). So basically my advice would be go back in time and make a different game than you made. You’re welcome.

  3. Alain says:

    i agree, harvest moon is better, in the way that…we can decide to end a day and go to the next anytime, and also, if we don’t play, we aren’t punished for it. Basicly, we decide of how the time flow, and can play simply to have fun.

    It’s sad to see that Avatar farm have this insane realtime feature, on a console game.
    The developer should have, at the very least, add an option to slow down time…when we don’t play. Punishing a gamer, when he isn’t even playing the game, won’t help him…to sell more game. It’s not because this way work, on a facebook game, that it could work, with console gamer.

    Developer, add a way to slow down the time, when we don’t play, and most of us will be happy…

  4. KDR_11k says:

    I played Zombie Farm which has the same mechanism. The crucial difference is that it’s an iOS game that you can quickly get into and out of and have access to wherever you go. An XBox indie game is a pretty involved affair to start up, that really doesn’t lend itself to this kind of realtime gameplay.

  5. SpaghettiCatt says:

    I bought this game on accident because I meant to download the Trail, but they were unfortunately switched, so I bought the Full Game on accident. While slightly flustered at my own mistake, I decided that helping the developers wasn’t really all that bad.

    As far as the game though, it’s not bad.

    To the people who are whining about the time mechanics, get over it. This is like Farmville, not Harvest Moon. Don’t like it? Should’ve played the trial.

    The fact that your crops can die means you actually have to give some thought about whether or not to water your crops.

    The biggest gripe I have about the game is that I wish I could run. It’s painful having to walk around one and this greatly impacts the speed of the game.

    This is definitely a casual game intended for people who want to just play for a half hour and then get back to other things.

    I enjoy the constant changing of seasons and the graphics are pretty nice. Having a field full of cotton gleaming in the fall sunset made me feel better about accidentally purchasing the game.

  6. Grady says:

    i believe the leaderboard ranking is dependent on how long you can juggle your garden in real time gameplay so slowing down the crop growth to the point thats being stated within other posts would damage the leaderboards. however making it where it takes longer for crops to grow (for everyone) would still keep the integrity of the leaderboards as well as make it more accessible for people that arent familier with this type of game mechanics.

    i’m not having a issue with the real time gameplay, i honestly like this. my one and only complaint is the speed that you walk, it should be faster.

  7. trev says:

    i agree i love the game so does my wife i have no complaint over crop times, BUT i need to move faster…..and a massive level cap….level 16 just does not cut it. other then that …great work on the game it was worth my hard earned money imo…oh last time i checked the leaderboards i was 10 th place sweeeeet

  8. Zach D. says:

    Figured I’d update you all, I was reading Milkstone’s site, and they announced by the 23rd the update should release (they have to wait 7 days to release an update for a new indie game) and it’ll increase the time it takes for crops to die. Aloe will take 12 hours for example, I believe. They’ll also be fixing the freezing glitch too, if you’ve experienced that. Go read their site, has a full list of things they’re working on. And the level cap will be increased when new items are in the updates, (they said there’d be no point for more levels as there isnt any more items, but when they add more, they add more levels.) ;) Cheers.

  9. Thats good im tired of powering down my 360 5-10 times when it freezes up on me in a one hour period.

  10. Grady says:

    wife and i have been keeping a farm going for several weeks and we’ve both experienced and been annoyed by the freezing glitch, im very much hoping that it gets fixed.

    not sure why people are crying about the real time mechanic of the farm, this is blatently stated in the trial, throughtout the whole trial. if you dont like it then you shouldnt have bought the damn game.

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