A fun, but slow-moving adventure
Pocket Gems is a powerhouse free-to-play developer responsible for a large chunk of the free apps that offer extensive gameplay with the occasional premium price tag lodged between sections. The developer has a massive and loyal audience, despite the usual F2P trappings, and the latest addition to their stable is Animal Voyage: Island Adventure. It's an adorable endeavor, obviously aimed at children, that offers hours of entertainment – if you're willing to pay or wait around for it.
For those who understand the world of the freemium game, it'll be a viable option (especially for the younger set) for some good old-fashioned adorable animal rescuing fun. With the aid of a friendly guide, you're tasked with exploring a chain of hidden islands, where a good amount of animals find themselves stranded. That's where you come in, with your band of animals. You'll rescue them from adverse conditions, and then build homes for them. Essentially, you're building a makeshift animal sanctuary that houses several different types of creatures, and tending to its upkeep while going on additional expeditions to save more animals. Improving the animals' living conditions and keeping them safe is definitely a goal that tugs at the heartstrings, and it's aiming to keep you engaged, considering the amount of real-world money to be made.
The game itself isn't challenging, so much as it is tedious waiting for objectives to complete and new quests to unlock. Like the rest of the Pocket Gems anthology, as you progress and unlock new species, buildings, and other augments, the wait between time to complete specific tasks and missions becomes longer and longer. There are items available for purchase in the cash shop to expedite the process; though if you don't want to put down real-world money to rescue and relocate a slew of animals, you'll be relegated to waiting things out more often than not.
That's not to say there isn't plenty to do since there's enough to keep you engaged. You'll build new homes for the animals, clear debris across the map, collect treasure, and continually cycle through upgrades. It's very simplistic and tap-centric, but that doesn't mean it's not still addictive. It can be, very much so – but you will be doing a fair bit of waiting as previously stated.
The game itself runs quite smoothly and can run nearly autonomously if you schedule enough buildings, upgrades, and expeditions. Earning in-game currency is fun, though it takes an awful lot of time to do. This isn't a game you enjoy for hours at a time, but one that you make a commitment to over a week or two to help cultivate the sanctuary and help it grow, little by little. It's a slow burn, and one that won't be for everyone.
For those who eagerly devour these types of games left and right, it's a good starting point – especially if you've got some cash burning a hole in your pocket. Not much has changed from other Pocket Gems games to this one, so if you're already familiar with their stable, Animal Voyage: Island Adventure should be a quick and easy start. For beginners it should be inviting and savory as well – just don't be expecting anything impossibly deep. This Pocket Gems release is just as fluffy as the animals you're asked to rescue in-game.
- A good variety of animals. Kid-friendly controls and content. Plenty to manage with buildings, new animals, and new locales.
- Plodding pace, considering the amount of time it can take to build structures. You will be pushed to purchase currency quite often.