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Animal Voyage: Island Adventure

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad


Product: Animal Voyage: Island Adventure | Developer: Pocket Gems | Publisher: Pocket Gems | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, Casual, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.04
Animal Voyage: Island Adventure iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

Animal Voyage: Island Adventure is the latest free-to-play effort from Pocket Gems, the team behind the rather successful Tap Zoo and Tap Campus Life.

With promising multiple islands to explore, rare animals to rescue and care for, and decorations with which to personalise your own animal sanctuary, it pretty much sounds like business as usual for a pet / farm / zoo-themed freemium game.

Will it go on to surprise me with hidden delights? Or will it be a week of the same old manure? Join me as I review the game over seven days.

First impressions

There's nothing quite like an animal theme, a soundtrack with upbeat plucked strings, and long initial loading times to tell you that you're playing a freemium builder.

Which, of course, is exactly what Animal Voyage: Island Adventure is. You start out by being told by a handsome young man that an animal sanctuary has been damaged, and it's up to you to put things right and return the creatures to their confines.

To aid you with this is a red panda, who can clear the tall grass that stands between you and the first of the stranded animals. Once you've done this, there's a broken bridge to rebuild, which is paid for with the grass you've just cut down, rather conveniently.

After you've sped up the wait timer to do this with some premium currency Crystals, it's on to rescue the animal in danger.

Where Animal Voyage: Island Adventure begins to deviate is when you're asked to free the animal by playing a match-three puzzle. Succeed here, and you can then add the animal to your stable once you've built it a home.

This marks a return to familiar territory, and so does the energy system, whereby you need to feed your beasts to ensure you can keep using them. You do this by planting crops, waiting, and then harvesting them.

It's too early to tell if things will go further down the puzzle route or not, but I'm very much hoping so, as otherwise this is looking to be a very uninspired week of play.

IAPs explained
There are three forms of currency: Coins, Leaves, and Crystals. Coins and Leaves cost Crystals to purchase more of, but you gain those speedily enough just through regular play, and you'll mostly end up using them to buy more animals and special items.

25 Crystals cost 69p / 99c, and go all the way up to 3750 for £69.99 / $99.99 That seems a little steep, considering they're so easily frittered away.
Day 3: You don't want no drama drama

There's been drama within the world of Animal Voyage: Island Adventure. Over the last couple of days I experienced a massive earthquake that further separated the different islands you can explore.

I wasn't massively aware of such islands existing, and I'm unclear as to why the earthquake has now caused certain areas to be darkened and locked away - but hey, I like a bit of mystery in my video games.

The presentation is solid but uninspired. There's the jovial soundtrack and clicky button sounds, which are all pleasant enough, and the animation of the 2D art is smooth enough.

But it's all very generic - you've seen this game's visual design multiple times before if you're a frequent freemium gamer. The resolution of the art assets is also pretty low, making the graphics look blurry at times.

The UI flows smoothly enough, but occasionally the prompts that appear from the animals and buildings - telling you that they need feeding or that an action has completed - will obscure the playing area.

Nothing about Animal Voyage: Island Adventure has truly gripped me yet, and I'm doubtful that anything about it will as I head into the final stretch.

Day 7: Play to wait

I'm beginning to warm to Animal Voyage: Island Adventure's explore, collect, and puzzle gameplay loop, but there's something that's really starting to annoy me - the implementation of the freemium payment model.

I'm okay with wait walls, as long as they aren't overly lengthy or frequent. In Animal Voyage they are both.

There were occasions in the last couple of days when I hit a timer and waited an hour only to hit a four-hour timer immediately afterwards. The issue largely emanates from the need to first clear a patch of land (which takes time) before then building an animal's home (which takes more time).

Building a Lynx's home takes five hours, and that amount of time this early on - there seems to be a wealth of content that stretches far beyond a mere week of play - suggests that things will only get steadily worse.

It's a pity, because rooting through the grass and exploring new areas, collecting items to fix bridges, and growing crops to feed animals so that they can assist you on your journey are all perfectly decent, middle of the road, kind of compulsive ways to spend your time.

But the wait walls kill it, and the premium currency isn't cheap enough to be constantly chucking it away on timers.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Animal Voyage: Island Adventure
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 2 September 2013
A decent enough freemium-builder crossed with a puzzler becomes wholly less palatable thanks to some obnoxiously long timers and so-so presentation
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