Odd Manor tries to be a little something different on Facebook, but ends up feeling mediocre
Odd Manor is an unusual Facebook game in which you control a gnome that’s tasked with trying to clean up the grounds of a run-down old house you’ve inherited. Naturally, the house was originally owned by a magician and you have the opportunity to re-learn all of the original owner’s magic feats by, uh, forcing your gnome to cultivate your garden. By growing special plants, you can release fairies with a variety of magic powers into your garden, earn money, and hoard magical artifacts. You can also decorate your garden, but chances are you’ll spend far more time trying to liberate it from stray rocks and weeds.
If it sounds like Odd Manor is a game mostly comprised of the most tedious aspects of FrontierVille, well, that’s not far from the mark. Odd Manor is basically a game about forcing your gnome slave to do menial chores around your house. There’s no real sense of building or expansion save in the plant-growing part of the game, which is surprisingly linear. Plants are split into five elemental affinities and you can grow higher-quality varieties as you complete tasks in-game. Tasks are split into a series of badges and you level-up in the game whenever you complete ten badges.
While some badges are awarded for doing basically reasonable things like breaking so many rocks or pulling up so many weeds, others require you to spend outrageously high sums of the game’s time-based currency. It would take weeks of play to earn enough even for basic tool upgrades. As it happens, though, you can purchase the game’s cash-based currency and convert it into the time-based currency at a rather high rate. Later tool upgrades can’t be bought for time-based currency at all, instead demanding that you spend real money in order to obtain them.
You will eventually reach a point in the game where advancing at all without spending real money becomes extremely slow and difficult. This is also a point where gameplay begins to feel extremely repetitive, even by the standards of Facebook games. Odd Manor sports extremely detailed graphics, which are probably meant to help distract from the very simple gameplay. A variety of sprites appear throughout the Manor’s grounds and your gnome’s animations help you track its status purely from visual cues.
Even the graphics in Odd Manor have a downside, though. The game was very slow to load and was prone to lagging in most major browsers where it was tested (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari). Lag could grow severe enough to force the game’s connection to the server to drop, forcing you to suffer hrough a lengthy reloading process. Odd Manor is by no means a terrible game, but the mundane gameplay and weak implementation hold back a very promising look and feel.
There’s a lot of potential for Odd Manor to improve in future updates, though.