We’ve covered how farming games have been evolving to focus on viticulture, monsters, zombies, safaris and treasure. Here’s a look at Fantasy Kingdoms, a Facebook app that is perhaps best described as medieval fantasy farming.
Developed by Sneaky Games, the mechanics of this app are all basically the same as other farming games, though everything has been renamed and reskinned to create a more mystical feel to the title. Instead of cash, players have “mana,” and rather than planting crops and trees, they infuse the land with said mana and “plant” with potions and elixirs (though only the former is available at the moment). Once grown, the harvest rewards the user with even more mana.
Everything you plant tends to stem from some classic reagent you may have heard in just about any fantasy story involving spell-making, including eye of newt, cattails, magic beans, and so on.
Beyond just names, however, Fantasy Kingdoms has really nailed down a beautiful visual style. From poison apple trees to elven looking walls and buildings, the game is a vibrant display of color and mythical décor. Granted, the game doesn’t seem to bring anything new, game play-wise, to the table, but the variety of decorations gives the player the capability of creating everything from a medieval castle to a dark forest.
Nevertheless, if there was one complaint to be had with visuals, it is the bizarre scale. Buildings and towers, for example, are all relatively tiny with barrels roughly a third the size and a base no larger than a single plot of land. Most odd of all, though, still falls under the fact that the character avatar is roughly the size of a tree. It’s not really a deal breaker, but it does feel very out of place. The fact that you can’t customize the outfits beyond color and that they constantly do this dozing-off nod animation is infinitely more obnoxious.
On the social side of things, everything here is also standardized. The game has your typical achievements – dubbed “Charms” – and users can visit each others’ virtual kingdoms in order to help out by “enchanting” their friend’s land (fertilizing), cleaning up “serpent vines,” and so on for some small reward of mana or experience.
As for the experience itself, this is also earned through virtually all actions and acts as your primary gating mechanism that limits what the user can buy. However, Fantasy Kingdoms actually has a rather large selection of non-gated virtual goods that can be purchased with its virtual currency, Kingdom Cash.
Anything purchasable with Kingdom Cash can be bought at any time. This includes extra money, animals (which is only limited to a cat right now), and any number of aesthetically appealing decorative items. However, it seems that an extremely large number of items cost virtual currency, and those that do not are extraordinarily expensive. As an example, a section of wall might cost three Kingdom Cash, but a similar item will cost 10,000 mana, making the latter feel very overpriced.
Regardless, it is still a fairly lucrative means to entice virtual currency purchases, but it might be prudent to balance that pricing difference to some degree. If things are too expensive in-game, players that don’t normally spend real money may not stick around long enough to ever do so. Earning rewards and growth beyond a mere level is what addicts players to online games, and while that balance is no easy task, once it’s found, players stick around a lot longer.
Overall, Fantasy Kingdoms has a wonderful visual style that will appeal to just about anyone that enjoys fantasy stories. Perhaps it won’t hook those of the Tolkien regime, but for younger audiences and those many Harry Potter fans, it ought to do well. In fact, the game has been growing rather quickly lately, earning upwards of 150,000 monthly active users, even though it’s ultimately not very different from a wide range of rival farm games.