Wildscapes Review | Not Like The Ads

Here I am, minding my own business, on a nice Thursday, August 15, 2019. I had the day off from work and was planning on being super productive. But alas, I see a new mobile game has come out. And not just any game, one where the thumbnail shows a picture of just the cutest baby red panda. I look further and see that it is made by Playrix, the people who brought me addictive games like Homescapes and Gardenscapes, and it appears they have done it again. They have released Wildscapes, a puzzle game featuring truly adorable animals.

I've played Homescapes and Gardenscapes for more hours than I'd like to admit, so when I saw this game, there was no hesitation in clicking that download button, and so far, I have not been disappointed. The game begins with introducing you to Zach the Zookeeper, the character who you will be living vicariously through in this game. Very similar in personality to Austin the Butler, but with a passion for animals instead of home and garden care. Your mission in this game is to help Zach build up this brand new Zoo by adding more habitats, animals, play areas, plants, and more! After being introduced to Zach the Zookeeper you are given your first task; get a panda for the panda habitat. Not going to lie, I was quite pleased as I placed my giant panda down and watched him sit and relax. After I was done staring at my new panda, it was time for the actual gameplay.

The gameplay in Wildscapes is extremely similar to Playrix's other games, Homescapes, and Gardenscapes. If you haven't played either of those, think Candy Crush. You make pairs of 3+ items of the same color to complete a goal and win the level. In this game it's different types of food that you are making into sets; green pears, yellow bananas, pink popsicles, etc. You can also create 4 different types of power-ups. You can create a top that spins to take out a specific piece by placing 4 in a square shape, a soda can that blasts out one line by placing 4 in a line, a bag of chips that explode by placing 5 in a 90-degree angle, or you can create a bucket of candy that you can use to pop away all pieces of one color by placing 5 in a straight line. The biggest difference between this gameplay and that of the company's other two games is how the power-ups work. After creating one of the various power-ups in the game, you cannot simply click on them to use them. You must either make them into another set of 3 or more or, and this is the same as the other games, pair them with another power-up. This is definitely a bit frustrating when you have 5+ power-ups on your screen, but you can't use any of them because none can be made into sets. To make this less frustrating though, there is a way to get bonus power-ups. There is a delightful baby animal in the top left that, when you collect 10 of their color (so far I have had red apples for the red panda, blue juice boxes for the elephant, and orange stars for the tiger) they will throw down some extra power-ups to help you out. This creates more power-ups on the screen, and therefore more opportunities to make sets with them.

Another similarity between Wildscapes and the other scapes games is you are given 5 lives, each taking 30 minutes to refill. Here is where it starts to get very different. Each level you gain 1-3 stars depending on how well you do, and these stars go into a chest that will open and give you rewards. You are also given coins when you beat each level. These coins are used to purchase all of the new animals, plants, benches, etc, to help expand your zoo. Each time you add a new big item to your zoo, you also receive gems that are used to keep playing or to get more lives. Since I have just started the game, and they like to front-load you with lots of rewards and items to get you hooked, I have plenty of gems and have not yet been hit with a "buy more gems?!?! we have such great deals!" where they try and get me to spend real-life money, but I am sure they are coming. This game is definitely easy to have fun with and not spend any real money on, given you have self-control, but it is something to keep in mind before jumping right in.

As you continue to play, the way you are asked to add new things is by customers and family saying things like "Uncle Zach, where can I play with other kids?" to motivate you to build a panda playground, or "I'm worried about the panda, what if he's feeling lonely?" to motivate you to buy another panda. This is a cute way to bring about why you are adding each new part of the Zoo. Another big difference between Wildscapes and Playrix's other scapes games is that you get to choose where to place things. You can put your panda playground right beside the panda habitat, or over by the cafĂ©. This is a nice feature as sometimes I would not like the placement of a piece of furniture in Homescapes, so this option allows for a bit more creativity there. However, you do not get any options for color and design. This has the potential to be a bit annoying, but since you can choose where to place things, so far it has not bothered me at all.

The animation style of the game is the same as Homescapes and Gardenscapes, though this time, with a lot more animals. Wildscapes brings Playrix's already cutesy animation style into all of the animals, plants, and areas that you add to your zoo. I couldn't help but smile when I saw the cute baby red panda playing with apples, or the baby tiger playing with a soda can, on the loading screen between levels. So far, the animals, plants, areas, and everything else have all been pretty basic in design, especially given that there is only one choice for each, but it all comes together to begin to create one very cute little zoo.

Similar to Playrix's other titles, Wildscapes has the same addictive puzzle gameplay, but with the added bonus of a bunch of cute animals. The game takes you on a journey alongside Zach the Zookeeper to build the best darn zoo there ever was. It's fun, addicting, and, if you have enough self-control, absolutely free. Now, go off and create habitats for those adorable animals!

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