Rock Age is slow and complex, but deeper than your average Facebook game.
Mix a city building sim with an online multiplayer experience, throw in a dash of prehistoric style and little bit of FarmVille, and you have Rock Age. It’s more in depth than most similar Facebook games, but it’s also quite slow and lacking much in the way of a personality. If you have patience it can turn out to be a worthwhile experience, provided you don’t get bored early on.
The game puts you in command of a prehistoric city that looks like something out of The Flintstones. After going through a brief but informative tutorial, it’s up to you to help the city flourish. There are buildings to build, technologies to learn, resources to collect, and territories to conquer. There’s quite a lot to do in Rock Age, and the core experience feels much like the iOS game Haypi Kingdom.
To keep you from getting overwhelmed, the game features a quest system. This helps you to remember to do things like upgrade your buildings and research new technology. Problem is, there are a whole lot of quests given to you at once. It can be hard to decide where to start. It can also be quite annoying that the game doesn’t automatically reward you for completing quests. Instead, you’ll need to navigate several menus and click the confirm button. If you forget to do this you don’t get the bonus. And since there are so very many quests, it’s easy to forget.
While there’s a lot to do in the game — as you’ll need to control every aspect of your city, from growing crops and building homes to training troops and attacking neighboring cities — it takes a while to really get going. You don’t experience many of the more interesting aspects until around level five or so, and it takes some time to get to that point. That means you’ll really need to push through the first little bit before you get to the really good stuff.
But to get there you’ll need some patience. Not only to wait for the good content to become available, but also to become accustomed to the wildly unintuitive menus. Simply put, the user interface is poorly designed. It takes multiple clicks to do anything and many actions are hidden behind tiny, easy-to-miss icons. And not only are the menus complicated, but they also intrude on the experience. The main screen, which displays your burgeoning stone age metropolis, is full of numbers, icons, and even a persistent chat window so that you can communicate with other players. And while all of it’s useful, it threatens to overwhelm you.
And that sentiment pretty well sums up Rock Age: it’s dense, complicated, and at times quite dull. But if you have the patience to learn how things work and play past the first few levels, it also offers one of the most in-depth experiences on Facebook. You won’t get rewarded with bright shiny stars like in CityVille or with happy smiling customers like in Ravenwood Fair. Instead, you’ll get the small pleasure of watching your stone city expand in size and importance. And because this doesn’t come quickly, it’s very satisfying.