Review – Avatar Farm is… a Disappointment.
11th August, 2011 11 Comments
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.