Tree World brings the fun of collecting and trading to the forest

When it comes to freemium mobile games, few developers are as notable as The Playforge. Responsible for both Zombie Farm and Zombie Life, these gamemakers have just released their third title into the woods, and it’s about as far from their previously undead stomping grounds as you can imagine. Welcome to Tree World.

The object of the game is to grow a tree and fill it with cute critters that can be traded with other players. Whenever you want to grow the tree taller to make room for another branch (or grow said branch) you’ll need to spend “tree food,” the basic in-game currency. Luckily the critters you collect will produce tree food after a set amount of time, making this a nice little self-sustaining ecosystem.

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Getting animals is easy enough, as a friendly leaf-faced tree fairy will summon new ones to the base of your tree every so often when you tap on her home, and then you’ll simply need to find an empty branch to place them on.

Each branch can grow a certain habitat style, like mushrooms or vines, and each animal has a preference that you’ll want to try to match up to. You can speed things up and buy new critters directly with the use of gems, the game’s premium currency, but even here the game is kind; you’re amply rewarded with gems for each new species you discover.

But while gifts from ol’ leaf-face are nice, the real draw in Tree World is trading. Let’s say you have three squirrels. Hop on over to the neighbors page, visit the trees of folks you know (or make friends with random strangers), and keep an eye out for a tree that’s missing the animal you want to get rid of. Once you do, find an animal in their tree that you don’t have, and propose a trade. Different animals have a different rarity rating, so don’t expect someone to gladly accept a common creature in exchange for a rare one – but so long as the trade you’re offering up is fair, there’s a good chance that the other player will accept it the next time they log in.

…and that’s it.

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While Tree World is both adorable and addictive, it’s missing a lot of the features that you’d expect to see in a game like this. You can’t breed animals, there are no mini-games to play, there are no funny hats or decorations – it’s just a very bare bones package. If this turns out to be merely a starting point, than Tree World has plenty of room to blossom. But as it is, it’s merely a cute diversion that leaves us wanting for more.

More than anything, Tree World ends up playing like a very cute and cuddly version of baseball card collecting. Checking out which animals you have, which animals you need, and trying to figure out who you can trade with to complete your collection makes up the bulk of Tree World‘s appeal. And while that sounds like it might be kinda dull – and in some ways, it is – there’s a very “gotta catch’em all!” nature to the game that makes it hard to put down. After all – who doesn’t love discovering adorable new creatures like the “koalaphant” or the “dog bird?”

Tree World has some strong roots, but it’s going to need a little more foliage if it wants to live up to its potential. This is definitely one to try, but let’s hope some future updates flesh things out a little more.