In one way, it's sort of strange that farming - a menial, repetitive task that involves long hours and lots of hard work - has formed the basis for the latest craze in casual simulators.
But in another way it makes perfect sense. Games like FarmVille are all about managing time and resources in order to create a particular outcome, and farming may be the most clear and direct form of resource-management in the world. Seeds go in, plants come out. Done.
Hay Day is the latest freemium title to try and cash in on the farm craze, and while it isn't particularly original it still manages to get all of the basic elements right.Green fingers
You start out with little more than a grubby patch of land and and a talkative scarecrow for a helper. After being walked through the basics you're largely left to your own devices as you attempt to build up your business.
With only a couple of crops to choose from, and not very many places to grow them, things begin sedately, but as your farming career blossoms you'll be dealing with animals, tending multiple feeds, and trying to sell your stock to as many people as possible.
Everything grows in its own time, from eggs to carrots, although you can speed things up with the liberal application of diamonds, which you can buy with real-life money from the game's shop.Factory farming
Every action you perform - whether cutting down trees to make space for your expansion, baking bread in the on site oven, or selling items to the customers who wander in - gives you stars. These are basically XP, and each time you level-up you get new crops, buildings, and products to play with.
There's a social aspect to the game, too, in that you can add Facebook friends in order to trade with them, and visit their farms to see how your competition is doing.
The real draw of gardening is the satisfaction of a job well done, and that's something that Hay Day just about manages to capture. Watching your crops grow and your twee factories spew out products is a quietly pleasing experience.
If you're vehemently opposed to freemium farming sims then this one won't change your mind. But if you fancy spending a relaxing few minutes a day tending the farm then you could do a lot worse than tend this one.