At its most basic, ForestVille can almost be thought of as a forest expansion to CityVille Hometown, as the gameplay is virtually identical, but replaces humans with cuddly forest critters. You'll be introduced to Daisy Fleetfoot, a fox that will guide you through the game, giving you goals and the like. The basics of gameplay see you building a city for the animals within the forest, placing homes made out of caves or trees, businesses that are appropriately themed (a honey business for bears, for instance) and land expansions that allow you to do more of the same.
As you expand your land, you'll eventually add more than just bears to your forest village, and will be introduced to beavers, rabbits and more. Only after you have "discovered" these critters will you be able to build some new items from the store, like a Mill that unlocks after your discover beavers, or a Spice Market that goes with the rabbits. The same can be said for some homes, as bears may live in specific dens, but beavers can live in lodges or burrows, while rabbits live in warrens. This adds a bit more variety that's not present in CityVille Hometown, as your in-game quests may even tell you to build one kind of home over the other in order to add to the variety of your town's residences.
Unfortunately, regardless of their intended species, many of the businesses and landmarks in ForestVille are incredibly large, taking up far too much space in your tiny slice of the forest. This is especially true for the Berry Farms that are used to grow crops (Goods) for your businesses. You can purchase land expansions from the store, but while the first few expansions are incredibly cheap, it's likely you'll find yourself expanding more often than in other games, simply due to these larger item sizes. Furthermore, if you wish to retain the natural feeling of the game, complete with the river that's placed in your town to start, you'll lose a lot of land just in water tiles. Finally, the graphics are a bit blurry in spots, and (while cute and colorful) aren't as detailed as those in CityVille Hometown.
When we first learned of Zynga's campaign to register the name ForestVille for future use, we had a feeling that this might end up being more of the same, and unfortunately, that's exactly what it is. Still, the game runs well enough, and allows you to connect to Facebook so that you can visit your friends' forests, or even add strangers if you don't personally know anyone playing the game. That will ensure that you have a steady stream of free gifts headed your way, but if you're already playing both Holidaytown and CityVille Hometown, this just might be a bit too much work to add onto your crowded plate. If you're ready to dive into the whimsical world of the forest however (and you have access to a Canadian iTunes account), you can now try out the game for yourself for free.
Have you tried ForestVille on your iPhone or iPad? What do you think of this slightly altered take on CityVille Hometown's mobile city-building structure? Sound off in the comments.