Game Reviews

Farm Heroes Saga

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Farm Heroes Saga

Farm Heroes Saga comes hot on the heels of King's social casual-puzzler Papa Pear Saga - a game that took the basic structure of Peggle and applied its own free-to-play twist.

But from what I've seen so far of Farm Heroes Saga, it looks a lot like the company's gone back to the well and is lifting a lot of its ideas from its runaway success story: match-three puzzler Candy Crush Saga.

Is that the case? Has King cloned its own game? Or does it iterate on the basic formula established by Bejeweled to provide a new take on a classic?

Find out as I play it for the next week.

First impressions

At the moment, Farm Heroes Saga sticks very closely to the Candy Crush Saga style of play.

The game prompts you to log in via Facebook so that you can see the scores of your friends, and you begin on a world map at the start of a long path of levels, which you'll no doubt work your way through en route to completing the game.

Jumping into the first stages, you're presented a tiled board filled with Cropsies - icons representing fruit and vegetables, plus the sun - and you then proceed to match three or more of them in a horizontal or vertical row to remove them from play.

Doing so adds to a running tally of Cropsies, and if you reach the required number you win the level, entering something called Hero mode, which is an opportunity for you to nab bonus points by matching yet more Cropsies.

Some Cropsies have a '+' symbol next to them, as well as a number. Match these icons and you'll be awarded extra Cropsies as a bonus.

You're given a score out of three based on how well you did, and can compare totals against your pals.

This is all fine, and works well enough, but at the moment nothing is getting me too excited.

Day 3: An apple a day

I'm now a few days into the game and I can confirm that, yes, Farm Heroes Saga is pretty much a re-skin of Candy Crush Saga.

Consequently, I've been unable to tear myself away from it at times.

I imagine it's similar to the kind of rush gambling addicts experience. One minute things are looking grim, the next you fluke a few good moves and finish spectacularly. You pat yourself on the back for being so smart, and then hit Next Level to chase your run.

At the moment I'm trying to remove Flowers from the play area by matching adjacent Cropsies, much like you do with the Liquorice squares in Candy Crush. When you're having trouble you can use Boosters, which grant you special powers, such as the ability to remove a single Cropsie without using a move. These recharge over time, or you can buy them.

I'm also entering boss battles with a skunk called Rancid. The goal here is the same - match Cropsies to reach a set amount - but you can use Magic Beans you collect through the game to make the encounter easier.

When you fail a stage, you can give up or use Gold Bars to continue a little longer. If you give up, you lose a life. If you run out of lives, you can't play for a little while, until they recharge.

All this should sound familiar, but it's fun all the same.

Day 7: Moment

I'm left with a feeling of emptiness after finishing up my time with Farm Heroes Saga. It's not that I haven't had a good time with it, but rather that I don't feel like I've fallen for it as full-bloodiedly as I did with Candy Crush Saga.

There are some minor gripes with the presentation. The sound is wholly forgettable, for one thing. It's not abrasive on the ears, but it's bland.

It doesn't look as delicious as its match-three predecessor, and its characters aren't as distinctive as those in Papa Pear Saga.

More than this, the colours of the Cropsies often look quite similar to one another. The flowers sport a near-identical shade of red to the strawberries, for example, and this makes fast play more difficult. This might seem minor, but this game is designed for quick sessions on the commute to work, and this slowness diminishes its appeal.

But the real problem is that I've already played Farm Heroes Saga before, in the slicker, more timely, more sensational form of Candy Crush Saga.

If you missed out on the Candy Crush Saga phenomenon, or you're just after a decent and free match-three puzzler, then Farm Heroes Saga has you covered. But I'm disappointed, as the game marks a significant step back in terms of creativity, from a company that could do much better.

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Farm Heroes Saga

Fun, functional, flat: Farm Heroes Saga is a re-skin of a previous King game that by this point everyone has played to death