A promising blend of Ranch Rush and Virtual Villagers
Does organizing a farm while solving the mystery of an old Mayan’s tribe sound fun? That’s exactly what you’ll be doing in Farm Tribe, a new game that can be best described as a mixture of time management and strategy gameplay, though features of the latter genre definitely dominate. While the idea is intriguing and the game is entertaining, there are some issues that prevent an wholehearted recommendation.
The basic gameplay and tasks share a lot of similarities with titles like Virtual Villagers, My Tribe, or Gemini Lost. You lead a tribe of people, ordering them to gather food, construct buildings, and to fulfill basic needs like eating, relaxing, or socializing. New features are unlocked by earning tech points during research and fulfilling quests.
What really surprised me in a good way was the artificial intelligence of the people you control. Each tribe member quickly understands what to do depending on where you drop him or her. Furthermore they will fulfill their needs by themselves after some time, and resume their previous work automatically. This does wonders for the pace of the game and prevents the frustration of having to micro-manage every person.
In Farm Tribe most buildings and even decorations you construct serve various functions – huts allow you to accommodate more workers, a fish-farm enables you to catch more fish at once, while a beehive activates the production of honey, and these are only some of the possibilities. Some of those buildings are unlocked by spending tech points into research of a specific topic (and it’s worth noting that the accumulation of tech points happens more quickly than similar titles), others become available when you perform certain quests that occur on a regular basis. Buildings, new workers, and decorations can only be purchased for money though, and here is where products and recipes come into play.
Farm Tribe features a lot of products such as milk, corn, mushrooms, fish, honey, raspberries, bananas and cabbage to name a few. Those can be sold individually, but to make more profit you can also prepare and cook more expensive meals, such as salads, ketchup or yogurt. However, you have to keep in mind that your people also will have to eat, so have to keep the balance between having some meals in reserve, but at the same time earning enough money to progress in the game. From time to time there will also appear special orders by clients that you can accept for even more profit, but this is not mandatory.
Another nice addition are collectibles like bugs, butterflies, pieces of a secret map and gems, which are scattered throughout the map. It’s something else to do while waiting for things to be finished, but unfortunately, some of those items are really tiny and blend in with the surroundings a little bit too well. Any kind of hint would have been helpful here, not necessarily a huge arrow pointing to the item, but some kind of subtle direction.
Randomly, malicious worms will appear and work their way towards the storage. This is the main reason why you can’t leave the game alone while things progress, because those worms will eat your whole food reserves very quickly. Fortunately they do not move very quickly and are easy to deal with, so they don’t pose any serious problem for attentive players.
On the downside, Farm Tribe sometimes lacks challenge. A lot of buildings take some time to be constructed, and if this is your only quest, waiting for it to be finished is what you get. On other occasions you will have to prepare a lot of meals… followed by another quest to cook a specific meal, and that can become really tedious. Furthermore some more options to customize your farm would have been helpful – for the most time you cannot choose where to place buildings or even decorations, which clearly lowers replayability.
In the end Farm Tribe still might be the ideal game for people who dislike both the lack of specific tasks in the Virtual Villagers series and the pressure and rush in time management games, although there is a lot of room left for improvement. Graphics and sounds could be a lot more polished, and at times it would have been better if there were more things to do, but all in all the pace and the number of features of Farm Tribe are satisfying. If you are looking for a relaxing version of Ranch Rush with a bit of mystery this might be exactly your game.