Disney’s Ghosts of Mistwood is a new Facebook-based exploration and building game from Disney Playdom. The game showed up as the No. 19 fastest-growing Facebook title by daily active users in our roundup yesterday.
The most immediately striking thing about Ghosts of Mistwood is that it is almost the exact same game as Botkin’s Hidden Cove, reviewed yesterday. The basic mechanics of exploring “foggy” areas to find new helpers who can then be used to perform more tasks simultaneously is identical, and the fact that most tasks take periods of real time to complete and may be sped up with either hard currency or a collectible resource is also the same. Even the art style is almost identical, albeit with a “haunted estate” theme rather than the tropical island of Botkin’s Hidden Cove, and just to make Playdom’s self-cloning even more obvious, the character Botkin also appears as a character in Ghosts of Mistwood.
There are a few very minor differences between the games, theme and plot aside. Botkin’s Hidden Cove seemed to place a greater emphasis on friend-gated construction projects in the early parts of the game, while Ghosts of Mistwood allows the player to go a little longer before bugging their friends about “staffing” their building. Ghosts of Mistwood also introduces a “crafting” component a little sooner, which allows players to create resources required to complete buildings — again, making the early stages of the game a little more friendly to solo players. Ghosts of Mistwood also lacks the “town score” feature of Botkin’s Hidden Cove — characters located will immediately join the player without them having to put down enough decorations to “attract” them.
Due to Ghosts of Mistwood’s similarities with Botkin’s Hidden Cove, many of the same good points and criticisms apply, though it feels as if some elements have been balanced and thought through a little better. For example, in Botkin’s Hidden Cove, clearing debris always rewards the player with wood resources, regardless of whether they are chopping trees or smashing rocks. In Ghosts of Mistwood, the collectibles for clearing debris are much more plausible — clearing scrap metal gives the player metal, clearing boulders gives them stone and chopping trees gives them wood.
Like Botkin’s Hidden Cove, Ghosts of Mistwood lacks a conventional energy system, making it more player-friendly than many other games in this genre. Also like Botkin’s Hidden Cove, exploration of the “forest” surrounding the player’s settlement requires a consumable resource, which is sometimes provided to the player at the beginning or end of a quest and may otherwise be purchased with hard currency. Other monetization avenues are likewise very similar — soft and hard currency may be purchased with Facebook Credits, Paypal or credit card; the latter may be used to purchase premium decorative items or speed up timed actions. There does not appear to be the option to purchase building resources directly as in Botkin’s Hidden Cove — they must be collected or crafted.
Ultimately, though, Ghosts of Mistwood does little to distinguish itself from other Facebook games of a similar style and certainly doesn’t distinguish itself enough from its stablemate. Like Botkin’s Hidden Cove, the game’s citybuilding component is shallow and unsatisfying, while the exploration component appears equally underdeveloped. There is, once again, potential here — but it needs work before it’s really worth checking out in detail.
Almost the exact same game as Botkin’s Hidden Cove, so the all the same pros and cons apply.