Harvest Land Farm and City Building is a freemium title available on Android and the iPhone platform. As you can probably gather from the name, it is a city building game. Being freemium there are a metric ton of In-App Purchases to watch out for. Not a game you can hand a younger player and go on your day. If you want a decent romp through a fantasy world with you in control of almost everything, here you go. If IAP offend/scare you then run like hell away from this one.

Harvest Land starts you small

First, the story. There is none. Literally, from the Google Play page – “Set up a new village, build numerous awesome houses, discover hidden mysteries…” The hyperbole just goes on from there. Those “hidden mysteries” are easily clicked on from the overhead map. That will give you a title and warning “You cannot reach here”. This does help, somewhat, in deciding your expansion direction.

That is, when you are in control of that portion.

Your development in Harvest Land is very stilted and extremely controlled.

Harvest Land iTunes Google Play Casual Mobile

Extremely like other freemium games

Take your pick of freemium “city building” game on iTunes or Google Play. They will most likely share basic problems, as I see it. These are, of course, money making options for the publishers.

First, there are at least two forms of payment involved in these games. An extremely easy to obtain method, then the much harder to get currency. This second currency is often the one that publishers offer in deals for real world money. This is the core of In-App Purchases. At least as we know it in the mobile world. Console and PC platforms see IAP offered more as DLC (characters, levels, clothing, vehicles, etc).

Anyhow, it is this second currency that is the concern in these games – Harvest Land included.

When giving orders, say feeding an animal, if you do not have the required materials, no problem. You can simply pay using that rare currency.

Here is where my problem with these games comes into play.

There is no “are you sure” option here. One click and that precious currency is gone.

You will get a sense of accomplishment when you have a small horde of that precious currency. Dread will slap you in the face rather quickly. Got a character needing an item close to another doing something else? Clicking might give you the character you want, might not. If you mistakenly click again out of frustration, if that first click was a character needing money to speed up, you just lost that money. Gone.

Restricted growth abounds

Harvest Land starts you with a super small area. This does give you a sense of accomplishment when you open new areas though. The problem is further expansion is limited by your town level. We are not talking “grow five levels to challenge the guardian for this next area”. No, we are talking, “improve 30 levels to even bother this creature in battle”.

I get that this keeps players from plowing through the available areas. This cuts down on development expenses in populating or making those areas worth your time too.

They have further protected those new areas via those guardian monsters. Just because your town meets the minimum level does not mean your supplies do. This could mean grinding for that super rare piece or simply buying it with the rare currency.

Guess which the publisher wants you to do…

Harvest Land iTunes Google Play Casual Mobile

Forget hording supplies

As with most games in this genre, the storage capabilities of your town are quite limited when starting. In Harvest Land you have three types of storage, each requiring separate expansion through grinding, and that oh so important rare currency.

Each upgrade takes a certain number of supplies. There are four supplies for this operation. Three of those are super easy to gather. That fourth one, yeah, that one is going to make you spend real world money to get.

Why?

Because obtaining that fourth supply is tied to fighting monsters. Monsters that actually drop that supply are extremely rare, or are region guardians. This means constantly dumping, i.e. paying using rare currency, supplies from the storage to make room for new ones. You do have a supply boat, a small one, which can have its storage upgraded. Yep, those upgrades are done via that rare currency.

See a pattern here yet?

Harvest Land iTunes Google Play Casual Mobile

Harvest Land specific troubles

In this game, much like others, you have buildings and such to build. Where the developers muddy the waters is here. There are often two versions of the building. One using a combination of supplies and common currency to build. There is, right beside that one, the same building but this one requires the rare currency to build.

Mix up which you are putting into the game and you could lose tons of precious, costs real money, currency.

As of this writing, $2 will get you 340 gems. The cheapest building to make, using those gems, is a chicken coop at 750 gems. Do the math and you will see that chicken coop will cost you $6 to make right now. Sure, you end up with about 250 gems left, enticing you to spend more for the cows at 900 gems (or another $4 out of pocket).

Sure, you can plug away for hours to get the necessary supplies for free. My problem is not that. My problem is the placement of these IAP options in the menu. Also, the lack of a confirmation before using your rare currency.

Harvest Land iTunes Google Play Casual Mobile

Finally, subscriptions. Yep, Harvest Land offers a weekly subscription model. The publisher offers three of them. Each level is priced differently – from $4.99 to $19.99 per week.

For your money you do get daily bonus items. These items, of course, would make life so much easier in Harvest Land. This is one of the few places a double check is in place for purchases. That is because you must agree to buy in the game then agree to pay with your financial account. I figure if this could be turned into a single click most publishers would be all over it as well.

Fun games ruined by In-App Purchases

Harvest Land, much like the others that share this freemium model, a fun game is marred with “pay up, pay up” tactics. I will be uninstalling Harvest Land when I run out of the rare currency, I have accumulated during game play. I just see no reason to continue playing as I already see piddling in the game for days, if not a week or more, quickly looming on the horizon here. That is unless I want to cough up real world money to skip past those hurdles. The problem I face is knowing there are more hurdles just past those. And more after that.

Harvest Land by MysteryTag
Platform: Android and iPhone
Genre: Casual, City management
Rated: E for Everyone on Google Play and 9+ on iTunes
In-App Purchases: Yes, integral to enjoying the game
Available now on Google Play and the iTunes App Store

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