While the peak of farming-game popularity may have long-since past, the folks at Supercell are hoping to reestablish the farming genre as a big contender in the mobile gaming space with the launch of Hay Day on iPhone and iPad. When compared to the multitude of other farming games that have come and gone over the years, the biggest attraction within Hay Day is the game's unique use of gesture based controls.
You'll complete the basic farming tasks found in most games, like planting and harvesting crops, and even feeding and harvesting animals (collecting eggs from chickens, for instance), but won't be subjected to constant tapping on individual farm plots, or even on individual animals to interact with them. Instead, you'll tap on one tool and can then drag your finger over all appropriate items to see the game respond with smooth, responsive animations. This eliminates the need for clumsy farm vehicles and saves time in both the long and short term, which is definitely a good thing (let's face it, planting an entire field of wheat or soybeans can otherwise be a tedious, boring process).
As you collect resources, you'll need to use them elsewhere in your buildings, creating goods to sell in your Roadside Shop or those that can be used to fulfill requests on your farm's bulletin board. Interestingly, you can even trade goods with others via GameCenter and Facebook connectivity. Once you reach a certain level, you'll be able to chop down trees or remove rocks from your farmland in order to use that space for other things (say, a new animal storage structure or even some decorations), but many of the in-store items are level-locked, leaving your progress to be incredibly linear, as one major element unlocks after the other without much freedom. Of course, once you've unlocked a feature, you can interact with it as often as you'd like, but it would have been nice to be given more freedom of choice for how we advanced our farms.
The same can be said for the game's overall depth. While using milk to create butter and cheese, or using wheat to produce baked goods adds an element of complexity to the experience, these tasks simply require you to set the production into motion and then wait a few minutes or hours for them to finish. Ultimately, you're then left with a fairly standard farming game (albeit one with great controls).
With the potential for growth in the future (an in-game river and dock displays "coming soon" when tapped on), Hay Day just might be the game to revive the farming genre, with controls that should serve as an example for other developers. Still, a farming game is still a farming game, so it will be up to you to decide whether or not you're ready to jump back into the barnyard.
Click here to download Hay Day on iTunes --->
What do you think of Hay Day and its focus on gesture controls? Do you think the farming genre still has life to live? Sound off in the comments!