After so many rehashed Farmy Frenzy games, Terrafarmers is a breath of fresh air
Terraforming is the process of making barren planets and moons habitable for life. Terrafarmers, meanwhile, is the process of turning the well-worn Farm Frenzy game formula into something new and interesting again. Alawar’s latest time management game has a lot in common with the FF series, but it’s more than just the same old game with a sci-fi makeover. Terrafarmers adds plenty of new ideas and twists on the formula to create a fun and fast paced experience that will make you forget about all those terrible spin-offs.
You play as the captain of a terraforming crew, travelling around to various planets, and sprucing them up with plant life to make them livable. Problem is, at some point you come across a lost baby. A human baby. So the rest of the game is spent making your way across the galaxy in order to get the baby back to Earth. And along the way you’ll fix up plenty of planets and battle plenty of space pirates. The story itself is pretty sparse, and only makes a brief appearance every few levels or so. But it serves as a good set-up for the actual gameplay.
The set-up of the game will be very familiar to Farm Frenzy veterans. The map is divided up into a series of increasingly difficult levels, which you’ll complete one at a time, in a linear fashion. The levels too, will look familiar. In the middle of the screen is an empty field, which is surrounded by all sorts of machinery. Only instead of a farm, you’ll be transforming a planet. There’s a machine that produces plant life, which you can place on the field. Once you have enough greenery alien life will start to develop. There’s a machine that you can use to evolve these different aliens, and each one of them will produce a different item.
As with previous games, these items that are produced can be refined via various machines and turned into more expensive goods, and there’s also a new blender that can combine different items into new ones. You have a spaceship that can fly off and sell the good you produce, and there’s also a new market feature that lets you sell goods to wandering aliens. This will earn you more money than the spaceship, but it takes longer. Each level will give you a variety of goals to accomplish, such as earning a certain amount of money, collecting a certain amount of a specific good, or raising a certain number of animals. In addition, most of the levels will require you to make the planet 100 percent habitable, which can be accomplished by planting enough greenery. And in true FF fashion, you’ll earn a medal based on how quickly you manage to complete the level.
Terrafarmers also features enemies, though they are no where near as annoying as the bears and sharks from the FF games. This time around you’ll be fighting off pesky space pirates, which you can do with a handy cannon. It’s much more satisfying blowing away pirates than simply clicking like crazy on a bear. And unlike the bears the pirates won’t clog up your inventory; instead, you’ll automatically earn some cash once you defeat them.
As you complete levels you’ll earn DNA points, which can be used for a variety of things. You can buy upgrades, like a better cannon for fending off pirates, or you can use the points to access hidden areas of the game. These areas can only be accessed by spending DNA points, so if you want to see everything in the game you’ll need to save up.
In addition to all of the gameplay tweaks, Terrafarmers also features a drastically different visual style compared to the FF games. Many of the planets look completely different from one another, from rocky surfaces to deserts, and as you terraform you’ll get to see them slowly change into green and beautiful oasis’. It’s very satisfying to actually be able to see the fruits of your labor in such a direct way. Everything else in the game is suitably strange and alien, from the different creatures that pop up to the weird items they produce. Pig-like creatures will create honeycombs, little blue bat monsters will lay eggs. It’s all quite odd and perfectly in keeping with the sci-fi theme.
After so many rehashed Farmy Frenzy games, Terrafarmers is a breath of fresh air. New gameplay elements, a new theme, and a new visual style go a long way towards making this an excellent spin-off. If you’ve grown sick of capturing bears and raising chickens, this world filled with aliens and other strange creatures is the perfect remedy.