Where FrontierVille meets the Flintstones, there is StoneDale.
PlayNow Studio’s StoneDale is a prehistoric FrontierVille, challenging you to build a primitive homestead in an ancient wilderness. You need to grow crops, hack down rapidly-growing plants, tame animals, and work on improving your little village’s idol. You only have so much energy to spend on different aspects of building your village and usually three or four different missions to juggle at any one time. Focusing on missions helps you build a well balanced village, but you’re free to focus on other aspects of creating your village, too.
StoneDale is an attractive game, with vivid graphics that truly bring the prehistoric theme to life. You chop down cycas and seagrass instead of pine trees, tame dodos and long-extinct ground birds for your livestock, and build all the facilities you need to make tools. The main downside to the gameplay is that it’ll feel extremely familiar to anyone who’s played FrontierVille. You go through very similar progressions as you build up your village, with only the farming and animal-taming parts of the game feeling really different at all.
The animal-taming part of the game involves your caveperson’s ability to find useful animals while chopping down trees and giant prehistoric plants. There’s a random chance that along with the wood, experience, and money you get from removing trees, you’ll also find signs of a wild animal. Different sorts of animals hide around different types of plants, which the game helpfully makes clear. Each type of animal you find requires a certain level of charm in order to tame it and add it to your village. Charm in StoneDale is equivalent to reputation in FrontierVille, acquired by going to friends’ villages and helping out.
Farming in StoneDale is a timer-based mechanic, but not in the Zynga sense where each crop has a default amount of time required to grow it. StoneDale‘s mechanic basically involves deciding how long you want to spend growing a given crop. Different amounts of time produce different amounts of the crop. As with most mechanics like this, you get the greatest yield per unit of time by picking short farming periods. It’s a bit like earning revenue from renting out properties in games like MillionaireCity.
StoneDale has one genuine gameplay problem, relating to how plants grow.
Just like in FrontierVille, weeds and trees will grow back into cleared spaces over time. While this happens very slowly in FrontierVille, which makes it easier to maintain clear areas, StoneDale will grow half an island’s worth of jungle basically overnight. It can make your progress feel a bit futile. Likewise, some mechanics that require friends to send you items can be a bit troublesome when you start encountering them (and paying for necessary items feels a little expensive).
Still, when the complaints are this minor, it’s proof that StoneDale is worth playing.