App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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The premise behind Pocket Land is a bit tongue-in-cheek (or rather, very tongue-in-cheek), but the world being destroyed by griefers only serves as the base explanation behind everything. Fortunately this puzzle game is a lot more interesting to play than it is to parse, although it’s still pretty rough.
Pocket Land’s mechanics are fairly similar to Triple Town upon first glance: but instead of matching three of a kind to create a new object, players have to line up two. A far more significant difference is that they can only use simple grass tiles at first. Everything else - stone, bushes, huts, etc - have to be unlocked by creating and/or harvesting new items. Oh yeah, and there’s harvesting. Trees, bushes, mountains, and even rivers can be gathered for raw materials that can, in turn, be used to create or harvest other things. And the more expansive and complex the world, the higher its population (a.k.a. score). Call it quits or run out of moves and it’s back to grass for the next game.
It would be incredibly easy to write Pocket Land off as a Triple Town clone, but while it does use a similar series of basic mechanics it really is its own game. It’s difficult to know what will unlock the next tier at first, and getting a high population requires a surprising amount of strategy. It’s also pretty neat how the environment can actually affect certain objects; such as the way trees will grow back over a few turns after being harvested so long as they’re close to water.
I only wish Pocket Land was able to push the concept even further. At the moment the world is very sparse, regardless of how many castles or lakes might be in it. A few simple-looking birds fly across the top of the screen and increase in number the higher the population count goes, but it would have been nice to see that same sort of detail go into the tiles themselves. Also, many of the details that are present are never explained; such as the aforementioned trees growing back near water. And while the game’s theme is catchy (give it a listen in the trailer below), it’s the only tune available. So it gets kiiiiiiinda irritating after the sixth time it repeats.
Obnoxiously repetitious music and underutilized gameplay concepts aside, Pocket Land is actually a nifty (albeit simple) little puzzle/world-building game. There’s definitely more here than meets the eye, but it also could’ve pushed itself a lot further.