Fresh setting and challenging game mechanics meet problematic pace and balance
We always appreciate it when a developer successfully tries something daring and totally twists an already existing genre upside down with an uncommon setting and a lot of new features. Developer Manifesto Game Studio does exactly that with Fruits Inc, which might be described as a mixture between Build-a-lot and Farm Frenzy.
Fruits Inc stars Jill, a young business student who suddenly gets the opportunity to work at her grandmother’s farm. While there is only one mode with 45 levels, the game takes players into consideration who prefer a slower pace. It is possible to beat any level in gold, silver or bronze time, but it is impossible to fail and finishing a level quicker does not give any specific advantages for future levels.
There are the usual achievements to reach, but in this case they are beautifully animated and absolutely suited to the game’s theme. If you just want to get through the game you will probably be busy for around 10 hours, if you aspire to reach gold time for each level you can easily double the playing time.
The goals of the game mainly consist of saving money, selling fruits, or products from fruits such as pie, jelly, and juice. This is done by planting fields of apples, apricots, grapes and strawberries on empty lots, which will then result in regular fruit produce (comparable to rent income in building simulations). The fruits can then be sold directly or put into the various factories, where you can create your own brand of juice and the likes by choosing a container, coloring it, and giving a name to the brand. This feature is actually quite entertaining and lets you personalize your own products.
The only resources in Fruits Inc are money, workers, technicians and materials, and they can be managed pretty easily. Technicians will take care of bug infestations while workers will set up fields and construct factories as well as process fruits in the factories. Moreover workers will earn you experience tokens over time the more they work at factories. Those tokens can be used to improve any factory in three different ways. You can upgrade quality seals, which will reduce the time it takes to process fruits, green seals, which will increase the price of the end product, or productivity, which enables you to process more fruits at once.
Basically this is all you have to know about the gameplay of Fruits Inc. We were quite fascinated by the rather simplistic graphics, which are charming nonetheless, and the very reduced game mechanics that still provoke more strategic thinking than similar titles easily. The game bears a lot of replay value because in a lot of levels you will have to try various strategies to beat them in gold time finally.
However, there are also some severe problems that can become frustrating pretty quickly. Not only does the tutorial lack a more detailed overview of helpful strategies, it is also very slow and annoying. Moreover, the balance and pace of Fruits Inc is generally lacking. Some levels are excruciatingly slow, others become absolute clicking frenzies unexpectedly. It is also quite discouraging that it gets hard already in the beginning to even finish a level in silver time. A generally faster pace along with a more generous timer definitely would have helped the game a lot.
In the end Fruits Inc is a charming and entertaining game that will absolutely please more patient players who appreciate fresh gameplay, a new setting, a steep challenge and a title with more than a few edges. Give the trial a go and see if you can forgive the heavy learning curve and the at times frustrating pace and you might be in for a pleasant surprise.