Gardenscapes gameplay goes rural in Barn Yarn
Grandpa Joe and his Grandson Tom have bought a barn for their farm, and they should probably get out more, because they're way too excited about the whole thing. In particular, they're excited by the idea that they might one day be able to afford to buy a tractor, which will be a monumental day and something they have so far only dared to dream about.
In order to afford to buy all the fancy new bits and bobs that the barn is going to need to be a place a farmer could be proud of, the pair are going to have to make some cash. To do this, they decide to sell off the piles of old junk that they've accumulated in their impressively large house.
Playrix Entertainment, the team that brought us Gardenscapes and Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover, developed this Barn Yarn – and it's essentially very similar to these two titles but with a rural theme. Instead of doing up a garden or a big house, this time you're doing up Grandpa Joe's barn for him.
You play hidden object rounds in different rooms in the house like the office, atrium and cellar, collecting things that customers ask you to in pop-up windows along the side. If you dither around searching for the requested items for too long, your customers get impatient and the price they're willing to pay for their stuff drops.
There are also coins hidden in the scenes which you can pick up for extra cash, and various hints you can access. These include butterflies, which lead you straight to a single item, magnets, that guide you to all the items currently on your list, and light bulbs that briefly highlight every item that you require.
To mix things up a bit the levels will sometimes have a twist or a theme, like a 'more the merrier' round where all orders are for multiple items, 'a shadow theater' round where you have to find objects from their silhouettes, and 'find 20' rounds where you have to locate 20 of the same thing.
After each round is finished, the amount of money you've made is added up, with bonuses given for speed, the amount of hints you haven't used and the amount of coins you've found. You can then use that money to buy gear for your barn, like a new fireplace, chicken coop and cow shed. For each of these items, you get three choices, so you can have your barn looking just the way you want it to.
The levels get more difficult the further you progress in the game, with more and more people asking for items, more multiple items to find, and more challenging object hunts. To go with the increasing difficulty, the amount of cash you get at the end of the levels also rises incrementally.
Short cutscenes where Joe and Tom banter with each other are shown between every two or three game levels, breaking up the gameplay a bit and adding some background to the story. The game is perfectly balanced, with furnishing your barn making you feel like you're working towards something as you search for endless hidden objects, and the conversations and new challenges keeping the gameplay fresh. Even so, Barn Yarn is better not played all in one go, but in bite-sized pieces.
Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover was one of the best games of the year, and if you enjoyed that title’s combination of sim and hidden object gameplay, you will find Barn Yarn to be just as delightful.
- Combination of sim and hidden object gameplay works really well together. Fun, fast levels. Different modes keep things fresh. Entertaining story and characters. Good gameplay length.
- Doesn’t do anything to evolve the Gardenscapes formula that it borrows.