Ever since Hunger Games: Girl on Fire launched earlier this year alongside the movie, we’ve been waiting for a Hunger Games iOS tie-in that fully captures the spirit of the series. The books are full of complex relationships, useful survival skills, and life-and-death drama, all of which would make for a great interactive experience. The Hunger Games Adventures, a port of the Facebook game, is a slowly-unwinding story that dives into the characters and background of the series, but without any of the danger.
It’s impossible to lose in The Hunger Games Adventures– the only benchmark for victory is how quickly you can progress through the game’s storyline. We find this amusing, because death is a very real prospect for the characters in the series, but not in this all-ages adventure game. You’ll still fire arrows at mutated animals called “mutts”, but they’ll stand and take as much damage as you can dish out before you run out of your allotment of energy.
Handling a breakout at the Mutt zoo.
Energy is the in-game resource that affects every action you take in this game. Collecting rocks and wood for your campground, trading supplies to other characters, and completing other basic actions for story missions all use up energy. You’ll regain one point of energy every five minutes, but as you progress through the game, even simple tasks will use up most of your reserves.
As a result, the best way to play this game is to time your experience with it so that you’re always about to level-up your character. Doing so gives you a full energy bar, so you may find yourself setting an alarm or checking the clock for the right time to re-enter the game. Some players will likely find this real-world time management to be a chore, but we enjoyed progressing through the game’s extensive and detailed storyline, so we stuck with it.
Despite the lack of danger, The Hunger Games Adventures does a good job of revealing more of the world of Panem. Early on, you’ll side with the citizens of District 12, including Katniss, Gale, and Peeta, as they try to survive the poverty inflicted on them by the Capitol. Later, you’ll travel to the Capitol to assist Ceena, Elfie, and Gamemaster Seneca Crane with their posh demands. The quests you’re given are never complicated, but they do provide some unique insight into the day-to-day lives of these well-known characters.
Home away from home.
When you’re not helping out other characters, you’ll be able to build up your forest escape, a secluded area in the woods where your character can build a campsite. Here, you can craft arrowheads or bandages, practice archery, relax in a cabin, pick fruit, and even purchase a pet. The forest escape offers a nice alternative to the bleak District 12 and oppressive Capitol, and it lets you pursue creative side-quests.
While you play, you’ll be treated to actual music from the film’s soundtrack, which is a wonderful touch. In District 12, you’ll hear Appalachian folk music, and in the Capitol, a blaring brass anthem. Graphically, the game sanitizes the film’s grittiness with anime-style versions of the characters, which are just a bit too cute for the violent undertones of Panem.
The Hunger Games Adventures feels like a game that plays you– your interactions each time you boot it up will be limited to just a few short quests, or a minute or two spent gathering resources. If you don’t choose to pay extra money to hurry along the story, you’re in for a lot of waiting. But over time, this game draws you in with its likable characters and constantly-expanding locations. We’re still waiting for a Hunger Games action game where the consequence for failure is death, but this iPad version of The Hunger Games Adventures is decidedly carefree.