Farming gameplay with fresh touches.

As a game all about washing up on a tropical island and being forced to keep yourself alive, you probably wouldn’t expect Youda Survivor to play so much like Farm Frenzy. But that’s exactly what it does. For fans of the FF series though, this is good news, as Youda Survivor features the tweaks, upgrades, and changes that have been missing from sequels like Farm Frenzy: Gone Fishing.

Things begin with your character, presumably shipwrecked, washing up on the shore of a beautiful tropical island. A narrator briefly speaks about a prophecy that says a hero will come along to help save the island and its inhabitants. Naturally, that’s you. The story isn’t particularly in-depth and is fairly tongue in cheek, especially with regards to the narrator, who frequently forgets to use his fancy speaking voice. It would’ve been nice if the game featured actual animated cut-scenes instead of a series of still images, but since the story is such a small part of the experience, this isn’t a deal breaker.

Youda Survivor

At first glance, the game itself is remarkably similar to the Farm Frenzy series. You have an open field in the middle of the screen, machines around the sides, and a list of animals and skills across the top. The core of the game revolves around taking care of chickens, who will produce eggs, which can then be processed and turned into different types of goods. To feed the chickens you’ll have to dig holes, which produces water for them to drink. You’ll also be collecting coconuts and shrimp, and defending your plot of land from item-stealing crabs and chicken-scaring pirates.

As you progress, you’ll earn different abilities. You can make it rain to refill the watering holes and make the wind blow, which causes coconuts to fall from the trees. You’ll also earn upgraded machinery, which will do everything from spilt coconuts in half to boil eggs. You’re not alone, however, as you’ll have help from a potion-brewing lady and a diver who can collect shrimp and other undersea items for you.

Instead of money, the main currency in the game is energy. You can earn energy by brewing potions from the items you collect (you’ll even be able to find special recipes along the way) but you use up your energy by performing tasks like summoning the rain or sword fighting with pirates. Once your energy runs out, you’ll have to restart the level. So each stage becomes a balancing act, as you attempt to complete your goals without running out of energy. Being on a hot, tropical island, you’ll also have to keep an eye out to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Depending on the weather this can happen either very quickly or not at all, but, thankfully, there’s a potion to keep you from drying out. Throughout the game the experience will change slightly based on the weather and the time of day.

Youda Survivor

There’s a lot to keep track of in the game, as the stages tend to be more complex than other games in the genre. And like most time management games, each stage presents you with a list of goals to complete. You’ll have to collect a certain number of items, or bring your energy level up to a certain level, all within a time limit. Youda Survivor features three different tiers of time limits, so you depending how quickly you finish a stage you’ll either earn a gold, silver, or bronze medal. The higher the medal, the more stars you earn that can then be used to upgrade your various tools. You can replay levels to earn a better score, and in some cases you’ll have to: certain stages will only open up once you have enough stars for the next upgrade.

This all amounts to a game that, while very similar to Farm Frenzy, is different enough to make it worth a look. It’s close enough to make it comfortable for fans of that series, but it doesn’t take long before the differences become apparent. And those differences are almost all for the better. From the potion brewing to the different weather types, Youda Survivor manages to make a well-worn formula feel fresh and engaging. It might not be all that original, but it’s fast, challenging, and, most importantly, fun.