Based on the popular board game of the same name, Agricola is a farming game that actually has you build your own farm. Most titles in this genre enable players to construct their own cities, but Agricola illustrates life in 17th century Europe. As a farmer who's raising a family, it's your job to keep everyone fed or else they will end up begging for food. If you're not too excited about harvesting crops or building stables, don't let that deter you -- this is a worthy iOS experience that is perfect for the iPad.
I'm a city slicker myself, and the thought of raising cattle, upgrading a fireplace, and being a stable provider really plays tricks with my arrested development lifestyle. There is, however, a certain freedom in responsibility, and Agricola tasks gamers with making the proper decisions in raising their brood. Under the Family mode, each member receives a turn at completing a certain task.
Whether it's collecting grain, fishing, being hired out as a day laborer, or building a fence to keep the animals in, the simple goal by the end of each round is to feed your loved ones. If any of them has an empty stomach, points will be deducted from your overall score by the end of your stage. Sound confusing enough? An in-depth tutorial, which borders on encyclopedic, will give you a step-by-step guide on how to build your farm.
If you're a loner who decides the title's online or multiplayer features are not for you, there is also a solo series option which tallies up your score by the end of each game. You receive points based on how well you've managed and upgraded your farm, and if you don't reach the game's specified target score, the solo series ends and you will have to start all over again (a solo series consists of six straight games, each with different target scores).
Achieving high scores and beating online opponents can be done by how you divvy up your responsibilities. Is cooking sheep and feeding your family more important than planting crops on your field? It all depends on your priorities, but in the end food is very important in my Agricola world, and no one goes hungry on my watch.
Although the game's $6.99 is a bit pricey for an app, this is not a free to play title which throws out premiums as in-game purchases. Once you download Agricola, you get its entire world in your hands, and knowing that you won't be cash gouged midway through playing is simply refreshing.
On an entirely superficial level, there will be tasks in Agricola that you may like more than others. My favorite job is raising animals on my farm, clicking on them, and dragging them across my screen and into my house's cooking hearth. Those two sheep you see hanging by the fence are now on my family's plate.
If you love farming based titles, Agricola is filled with a multitude of tasks to accomplish. Spending hours building your farm or competing against others for the best household isn't entirely out of the question. It's a total immersive experience which really puts your own set of priorities to the forefront. Raising a family in 17th century Europe may never supplant my love for dungeons (or dragons), but next time someone asks me to help farm their land, maybe I'll stay awhile.