Farm Heroes Saga is a new Facebook game from the newly-rebranded King, released alongside the recent Papa Pear Saga. Access has been somewhat limited until recently, but the game is now open to all players, and being actively promoted via the front page of Facebook’s App Center.
Like most of King’s other games, Farm Heroes Saga takes very heavy cues from well-established puzzle game mechanics. In this case, it follows the same Bejeweled-like mold as the company’s immensely popular Candy Crush Saga, which is presently being heavily promoted in a variety of different media and topping both the MAU and DAU charts as a result. Farm Heroes Saga is presumably an attempt to ensnare the same 45.5 million (estimated) monthly active users and 15 million (estimated) daily active users who are currently playing Candy Crush Saga on a regular basis — but is releasing an almost-identical game the right way to go about it?
Farm Heroes Saga’s basic gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played Candy Crush Saga or Bejeweled. Players swap various fruits and vegetables around on a grid in an attempt to make matches of three or more like-colored objects in a horizontal or vertical row. When a match is made, it disappears, causing objects above it to drop down into the space that has been made.
Farm Heroes Saga’s main distinguishing feature from its spiritual predecessor is in the objectives required to complete the various levels. In most levels, the player must fill a “growth” meter — actually simply the same old “score at least one star” mechanic used in most of King’s other games — and collect a certain number of specific fruits and vegetables by matching enough before they run out of moves. Occasionally, things are mixed up a little by allowing the player to collect animals by scoring a particular number of stars on a level — collecting complete sets of animals provides the player with free powerups — or with boss fights that require the player to match specific fruits and vegetables in order to deplete their opponent’s health bar, but the basic mechanics always remain the same.
The game is not quite as aggressively monetized as Candy Crush Saga is. While it still incorporates a play-throttling “lives” system which depletes by one when the player fails to complete a level, the powerups available in the game are a little more reasonably priced than the rather expensive offerings in Candy Crush Saga. The player is also regularly provided with a few powerups for free — they must first be unlocked by reaching a particular level in the game, but at that point the player is immediately provided with three free “charges” of the new powerup, and when these free charges are depleted, they will regenerate over the next 12 hours rather than being gone forever. This is rather more fair to non-paying players than Candy Crush Saga, which had the potential to get very expensive very quickly.
The game is certainly very well presented, with catchy, unobtrusive music and smoothly-animating, high-quality graphics, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that this is nothing more than yet another Bejeweled-alike — an unnecessary addition to an overcrowded genre that King has already asserted its dominance over. Farm Heroes Saga may be a good-quality game, but while Candy Crush Saga is on the market and doing so well, there’s really not a convincing reason for the company to release a second, almost-identical game onto the market. With King’s proven track record of user acquisition, retention and monetization, it’s possible Farm Heroes Saga could be another success story, but that’s by no means a sure thing at this point. It’s one to keep an eye on for now, then, but far from a “must-play” title.
Farm Heroes Saga currently occupies the 1,000,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 289 and the 500,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 102. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Not a bad game per se, but while Candy Crush Saga is still topping the Facebook charts there’s little reason to play this.