Farmington Tales
Year Published: 2012
Publisher: Shaman Games Studio
Developer: Playcademy

Well, here's a game that has some wonderfully addictive ideas and then shoots itself in the foot repeatedly. Playcademy's Farmington Tales is a hybrid of a farm simulation and a hidden object game. As a hired hand on Dahlia Farms, you scavenge for items that can be sold to repair and upgrade structures on the farm, such as the farmhouse, the windmill, the duck pond, etc. You can also plow and plant the fields to grow vegetables for extra cash, and also sell eggs, milk, and wool from your chickens, cows, and sheep. Toiling about on the farm between the HO scenes is great fun, but the game keeps throwiing roadblocks at you as though it doesn't want you to enjoy it too much.

Floyd and Doggy need your help to win a contest and stop some evil bankers.

I've played hidden object games where the HO scenes are used to earn cash for upgrading a living space (usually a mansion or farm) before, and the good news about Farmington Tales is that it does not have any microstransactions, which can almost become a necessity to make progress in some games of this genre. It's very easy to make money. No one should have any trouble finishing it.

But finishing it is part of the problem. The game has two endings. The backstory is that Farmer Floyd had to take out a loan to pay for his wife Dahlia's surgery and now must earn enough money to pay it back or the bank will repossess his farm. Floyd does not feel he can meet the banker's deadline, so he enters a "Farmer of the Year" contest in hopes of winning the grand prize money. The first ending (though predictable, I won't spoil it here) seems to occur shortly after you purchase every possible upgrade for the farm.

Making money off selling items is easier when they magically reappear later.

You can continue playing past this ending, but a second and final ending occurs sometime after this and I'm not sure what triggers it. It could be after completing (or skipping) all 10 of each type of puzzle or after earning a certain amount of money (which will continue to accumulate once you have nothing left to spend it on). I expected Floyd and Dahlia to turn the farm over to my character, but instead they permanently closed it! You might ask me why I would want to keep playing, and the reason is because (while it has no Steam achievements) it has in-game trophies, and my game ended before I was able to complete them!

I played through the game a second time and the same thing happened - I was only able to complete around 40/50 of the "quests" for their respective trophy. The quests are just like in MMOs where unseen characters request something on a billboard and you can choose to accept them. In this case, you will be asked to find particular objects in the HO scenes.

The farm has a number of HO scenes and once you finish one, another one (or two) randomly opens. But if the ones where the objects you need don't open, you can't complete the quests. Sometimes the correct scenes become available, but the objects are randomized, and so the necessary ones aren't there. And I question if it's even possible to find all of them. I got a request for four tires and never even saw a single tire. Being able to play past the second ending would've allowed more time to finish this trophy (assuming it even can be completed), and I don't understand why not let the player choose when to end the fun?

Cat's Cradle, Minesweeper, Sudoku...I guess I should just be grateful there's no Sliding Tile puzzles.

The puzzles that periodically appear between HO scenes are another issue. Puzzles are to be expected in hidden object games, but you have to be a far bigger fan of Minesweeper, Sudoku, and Cat's Cradle than I am to not feel like the ones present here are just keeping you from doing the fun farming stuff. Skipping puzzles costs a small amount of money, so I made sure I saved some to bypass a few of the later, more aggravating ones.

Aside from this, you have to be forgiving of the outdated animation-free look of the hidden object scene graphics and that you will retread them again and again (which can become annoying when the RNG decides to give you the same one every other round, but refuses to open another). There is a fun and addictive game in here, but it's blemished by some rather annoying and baffling design choices.

SCORE: 2.5/5



AddThis Social Bookmark Button Dreamhost