Work your magic on a run-down homestead to turn it into a busy, thriving farm. Grow a myriad of healthy, mouthwatering veggies and expand your business in the process. Make the farm more efficient by installing ladders and ropes so that your workers can get to where they are needed the most. Build the farm of your dreams by upgrading your humble garden into a more elaborate facility fit to win Farm of the Year. With its challenging, strategic game play, mastering this time management game is no easy task.
So does The Joy of Farming live up to its name? Well, the beginning is easy enough even for casual time management players. However, things become hectic as early as level 10. Amassing enough to upgrade takes a while, and even then, attaining a gold rating is quite a challenge. Casual players are weeded early on in the game, as there are more than 60 different levels to figure out. If you’re up for the challenge, however, then you’ll definitely get your money’s worth with tons of replay value.
On the plus side, The Joy of Farming won’t tire you out with seemingly endless mouse clicking. Well, unless there are thieves after your goods. In which case, you will have to be vigilant and click away. Successfully imprison one of the sneaky robbers and you’ll be given the chance to grab his bag of loot for an extra 25 credits to spend. That’ll definitely go a long way in helping you with those upgrades.
If you’re after fast-paced game play, then you may not dig The Joy of Farming. The characters here move slowly and you’ll have to wait for their animation to finish before starting a new task. Joy herself takes a while to serve customers (give or take half a minute), which may be discouraging to those who need to replay levels to get a gold rating. This is unfortunate as replaying levels for better ratings is essential to proceed in the game. Certain levels need objects to be unlocked before becoming available. Stars are used to purchase objects and the rate they are earned depends on how well you did on previous levels.
Also, the bonuses for upgrading items could use a better explanation. For instance, the difference between a level 1 water barrel and a level 2 water barrel is barely noticeable –you have to wonder what exactly improved. While gardeners do get new duds, their animation hardly reflects the new bonuses. Though not everyone can appreciate seeing percentages, at least players would have a more realistic expectation when it comes to their hard-earned level ups,
While the technical side does need some work, The Joy of Farming doesn’t lag behind when it comes to graphics. The detailed backdrops and colorful cast of characters look like they were pulled straight out of a story book. The artists were very meticulous, with textures and creases on even the tiniest carrot icon. The art style is quite traditional, almost like everything is hand drawn. Don’t expect smooth Flash animation and gradient shading. Regardless, the visuals do look splendid and they fit in well with the game play. For those who are familiar with the series, they remind us a bit of the art found in old Strawberry Shortcake cartoons.
For a time management game, The Joy of Farming may have a steep learning curve but if you’re looking for a game to last you hours and are into strategic game play, then it is perfect for you. It’s really engaging on some parts and it teeters on frustrating in others. We would have liked some more polish when it comes to some of the technical details we mentioned, but at least it’s just inconvenient and nothing game breaking. The graphics are wonderful and they fit in well with the homey farm theme of the title.
Bottom line is, you usually enjoy titles in the farming genre, then we recommend spending some time playing the demo. After an hour, you may just be craving for more. If not, you can always go for more relaxed farm-themed titles such as Alice Greenfingers.