In real life, working on a farm can be a drag, especially when it involves feeding animals and weeding plants. But what if you took your tools to new, intergalactic pastures full of cranky aliens, colorful environments, and spickens? As shown by Astro Ranch, it is definitely an improvement.
In Astro Ranch, you grow crops and raise mutant animals as you build up your space farm. You must also fend off pests, water your plants, and buy feed for your livestock. It’s quite simple, and after a decent tutorial that goes over many of the core gameplay mechanics, you should be mass-producing in no time.
Eventually, the farming aspect does start to get dull, as it lacks a lot of variety. The tedious task of constantly running back and forth to your storehouse and the shop due to your small portable inventory was something that could have been improved upon, as it often left our crops diseased and dead. Watching space creatures grow over time is fun for a while, but also eventually suffers from the same repetition.
Beyond selling animals and crops, you can partake in other activities, like gold panning and fishing. We particularly enjoyed the latter, which plays much like Flick Fishing in that you flick the device to cast and, once you get a bite, wheel in carefully so the line won’t snap.
Do you have any twos?
Astro Ranch really shines in its cute and silly personality. The bright environment, pink cobblestone walkway, and stars growing on trees made us want to return to the ranch often. Some of the NPC characters don’t have the nicest dialogue, but then again, one might expect aliens to be disdainful of humans.
One of the features that make many economy management games such a hit is the social aspect, but Astro Ranch doesn’t really deliver on this front. The only interaction is in submitting high scores and sending in-game mail to other players in a system similar to that of Animal Crossing. When trying to access many of the current Scoreloop features, such as your username, the game crashes.
The only place to find livestock like this on Earth is by nuclear power plants.
The touch-based controls can also be hit-or-miss. Sometimes, the advertised “tap where you want to move” method is rendered unusable due to the lack of decent character movement AI. Instead of finding a way around a gate or river, your character only wants to move straight forward. This can be remedied with tap-and-hold movement, but it’s hardly an ideal fix.
The DLC is well-implemented in Astro Ranch, offering optional aesthetic perks such as new home furnishings and clothing, as well as money for those looking to get ahead quickly. No other customization features can be bought in the game, which is a slight letdown.
If you enjoy the idea of running things day-to-day on the farm, but have felt it needed some mutated animals, Astro Ranch is your game. Wannabe space farmers will probably dig this title despite some flaws.