Berlin-based wooga (short for “world of gaming”) made its first appearance on Facebook last year with a simple yet well-polished puzzle game called Brain Buddies that was reminiscent of Playfish’s Who Has the Biggest Brain? In an ongoing trend, the German social developer moved to polishing another older, arcade concept with Bubble Island, an app recently added to our Top 25 list this month. Now, the company is changing up yet another genre as it takes on farming with its latest app, Monster World.
While it does become tiring, from time to time, to see a still steady flow of the same game reskinned, it is interesting to watch how much a developer will deviate from that old game mechanic. Sometimes it is truly the same game with new graphics, and other times it feels completely different. Monster World falls somewhere in the middle.
Players choose a monster avatar from a set of three families – big furry monsters, slimy, blobby alien sets of guys, or horned devil things – and from there, narrow it down to a specific, pre-set of avatar style. Yes, “pre-set.” Sadly, there is no customization. Regardless, once your monstrous avatar is ready, you are granted a small plot of land in which to make your living.
For the record, farming is not exactly the first job description that comes to mind for a monster. Nonetheless, the player is given plots of plowed land and some monstrous plants in which to harvest and grow. Obviously, this is the first difference as all the plants are truly bizarre, yet visually interesting in their own right. Some fall into the “freaky” category with giant morning star spiked plants, and cacti with mouths, while others are more cutsie with candy cane trees and heart flowers.
This is where wooga does something a bit different. At the start of the game, they do not make you buy seeds, they actually give many of them to you throughout the tutorial section. Here’s the catch though: Each plant produces two of itself when fully grown and harvested. Now, the player is given a choice to either replant, keep, or sell the harvest.
Interestingly enough, the selling aspect is not as simplistic as other farming games — where you just sell crops and are done with it. Though Monster World is not terribly more complicated, there is actually an economy-like feature when it comes to buying and selling. Whenever the player visits the market where plants are sold, each plant will come with an icon of either a green up arrow, red down arrow, or equal sign representing its value when compared to standard market price.
From day to day, the prices of these crops will fluctuate, so it isn’t always wise to simply sell your plants right as they are harvested. Buy low and sell high: That’s the basic concept being used.
Of course, if you’re not patient and want immediate return, there is a little robot by the name of Robert that will come by, daily, to buy from you. Unfortunately, he only buys a specific plant with a specific amount requested, so if you don’t have that, it does you little good. Nevertheless, if you do meet Robert’s requirements, he will buy them for well over market price, making it prudent to grow a wide variety of plants.
Caring for the plants is a bit different too. Actually, you don’t care for the plants at all. You make your friends do it. The best part is, they don’t even have to play, and you tell them they’re watering your gardens anyway. As expected, they come in as a random avatar – should they not play – and you have to feed them to keep them happy and working. It’s pretty simple, really, as all the user needs to do is feed them food that lasts 24 hours and come back the next day.
Presumably, you will eventually be able to have more than one helper as your land expands and you earn more plots for plants. We assume this as when we check up on our helper’s happiness, it says it serves 18 out of 14 plots. This suggests that as you level, you will be able to plow significantly more land. However, this privilege is few and far between, as it has been multiple levels since we were last able to plant more crops. As for the happiness itself, feeding is a good idea, but there are various decorations that increase it as well, though it doesn’t feel like it is all that important. A few paths and regular feedings and our slave… err, friend works just fine.
In regards to the decorations themselves, everything is typical of a virtual space. All the décor is centered around a monster-like style. You have things made of scrap, stuff from space, and any number of interesting variations of everyday garden items. That said, the art style is probably going to be pretty hit or miss. This doesn’t refer to the quality of the art, as it is actually quite good, but the whole monster premise. Frankly, it feels like something more appealing to a younger audience.
Regardless of style Monster World does attempt to do something a little bit different with a tired genre. Truth be told, it is always more exciting to see a game that does something completely new, but there are still plenty of ways to evolve a game that has been done before. Currently, however, the game is seeing an extremely rapid increase in monthly active users and is sitting at around 90,000.