Developer: Kairosoft
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Having genuinely lost sleep over Game Dev Story, the name Kairosoft makes me excited, as well as a little worried about the risk to my sleep pattern. Beastie Bay doesn’t have that same addictive factor but its Pokemón style gameplay should keep fans happy, even despite the plethora of in-app purchases available.

Beastie Bay offers part city (or as the game prefers to call it, resort) management sim, part “Gotta Catch Em All” sim. Washed up on an island, the player is tasked with the role of developing the land into a comfortable place to live by building homes and harvesting resources, while also exploring the area and discovering allies. These allies are creatures that must be tamed through battle, just like in Pokemón. These creatures can then be used to harvest food and lumber as well as research new housing types, eventually leading to things such as hotels and hot springs. It’s a curious mix, indeed.

Much like other Kairosoft games, there’s hardly a tutorial here, but Beastie Bay just about offers enough to teach players the basics. Exploration is key to early success as well as regularly battling other beasts in order to tame them. This combat is fine at first, but it soon becomes a little dull. With simple rock, paper, scissors mentalities, it’s fortunate that an auto button can skip over combat for the idle minded. Having said that, it’s not long before the enemy AI gets tough, despite appropriate strategies remaining limited.

Such dungeon crawling forms much of the game, with a return to the outside world putting the focus on development in order to encourage tourists and grow in size. It’s a curious mix but it mostly works. What’s not so welcoming is the presence of in-app purchases. It costs $4.99 to remove the annoying adverts (even more annoying on the iPhone 5 screen given the game doesn’t use the full screen space) and add a much needed Landscape mode, but there’s also the presence of a series of other in-app purchases which can boost productivity. It can be mostly ignored but there’s that slight uneasiness of seeing the likes of Kairosoft switching to a freemium based model rather than sticking to offering regular games and lite versions.

Despite such signs of a changing market, Beastie Bay might not be the finest of titles from the developer but there’s still satisfaction to be had, once fully understood, although don’t expect to be able to play across multiple devices as there’s still, oddly, no iCloud save support.

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