Rovio’s latest game, The Croods, is a vast departure from anything they’ve done in the past.
Off the top of my head, here’s a list of things that differ:
- It’s based upon a franchise that Rovio does not own.
- It’s free-to-play.
- It’s a social game.
- It has no physics engine as far as I can tell.
Rovio is out of their element in this foray. With tons of other town-builders available in the App Store, can Rovio make the Croods stand out from the rest?
The Croods is your basic town builder, though wrapped up in Dreamworks latest animated movie motif. It looks great, though it does stay zoomed in a bit more than I like, and sounds very good overall. There is an obvious difference in presentation when moving from the computer-generated models of the movie to the sprites you see here, but the designs are faithful enough.
You have your common themes of gathering resources and decorating your space as you see fit. The game teaches you the ropes of how to capture animals, tame them, and then feed them to gather new resources. These resources, in turn, can be used to feed other animals or your cave-wife, Ugga, can cook them up in a soup.
The game’s biggest flaw is Gran’s chores that are virtually essential to leveling. The difference between experience you earn from your resource animals and the experience you earn from completing these missions is just too great. Freedom is unintentionally eroded by the game’s structure. There were times I felt penalized for decorating the way I wanted only to have to build an identical structure less than a day later to complete a mission objective. In turn, I just stopped decorating the village altogether.
The Croods doesn’t just hold your hand, it squeezes it tight, steps on your toes, and tells you that you will never truly be free.
With all that’s wrong, I’ve yet to even mention the secondary currency, the Crystals. The only way to get certain animals, which are required for achievements that you may or may not care about, is to build traps that require crystals. The only way to upgrade your raspberry bush, the base ingredient from which all other resources come, is to use crystals. While these and the standard timer-negation mechanic are the only times that the Croods asks for your money, it’s a pretty big deal for people who don’t have a lot of time to play or that don’t want to stay in the app and watch timers count down. The fact that the minimum purchase is $4.99 doesn’t curry the game any favors with me.
There’s quite literally nothing to do in the Croods. You come back, you feed your animals, and you leave. There is no interaction. There is no challenge. It is the equivalent of having a pet rock and the world is every bit as interesting. There is nothing to keep you in the game other than the desire to gather raspberries because you don’t want to keep coming back into the game every six minutes to collect them.
The cherry on top of all of this horrible experience is that the Croods requires an internet connection at all times. I was shocked when the game abruptly cut out between Wi-Fi stations when I was riding the subway into work. I don’t see people hacking this game to get ahead, but the suits at Rovio must disagree with me.
Rovio is a one-trick pony. The Croods is every bit as simple as the common caveman and just another example of their inability to make a compelling game that doesn’t involve flinging birds at makeshift castles. They have made a game so generic and, dare I say, crude that I can’t imagine anyone but the youngest fans of the movie finding anything less than unbearable.
(The Croods requires a Rovio account for saving. It is available for free in the App Store and on Google Play. The Croods Version 1.0.4 was used for the purpose of this review.)Tweet
About the Author
|Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming.
Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.
Fade to Slack has written 328 posts on Delta Attack.