Developer: Rovio
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.4
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

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

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

Combine the immensely popular talents of Angry Birds creators, Rovio, with a new movie franchise aimed at kids, and things could have turned pretty special. Heck, just a reskin of Angry Birds with a cinematic theme and a few new features, a la Angry Birds Rio would have been fine, too. The Croods isn’t like that, though. Instead, it’s a freemium village developing game that feels more like assembly line production than genuine fun.

The story is that The Croods need to improve their land through capturing and taming animals, then using their produce to build new inventions in order to explore new surroundings. It’s a simple premise and one that sounds immediately like a city building title. That’s not quite the case, though, as The Croods is more objective focused than that. Sure, it’s possible to mess around and build how one wants, but there’s a clearly defined structure in order to unlock new things and level up.

Various chores come from three members of the family, each involving a different task. While Grug focuses on trying to create new inventions, Gran solely focuses on tasks that grow the settlement and Ugga makes soup which can level up creatures, thereby gaining more produce. It sounds varied but its implementation lets it down.

Everything comes down to berry production. Starting out with a berry tree, these berries are used to feed Molarbears, which produce carrots to feed the Bunny Beasts leading to new stones which keep the Giralephants happy and so forth. Berry production is essential to all of this. It also means that play sessions quickly turn into a matter of feeding animals and tapping on their homes in order to collect more produce. It all feels very quickly soulless. There’s no sense of character or personality here, with The Croods hardly being an important franchise to include. This game could have had any selection of characters and it’d be the same.

Like other freemium games of this type, The Croods will, oddly, draw one in. I still found myself checking in more often than I needed to, but it really is devoid of charm and wit. Taking a while to get into, I hoped the unleashing of new inventions might help, but it doesn’t. It just continues to plod along, feeling forgettable and wasteful. Don’t be fooled by the natural instinct to feel satisfaction at accomplishing a goal, there are far more enjoyable ways of gaining that feeling.

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