Farmyard Chronicle, Director's Cut
With the sages out of town for a convention, a little teleportation spell in their absence doesn't quite go as planned and now it's animals. Freaking. Everywhere. Chickens clucking in the castle hallways. Sheep on cliffs. Horses down wells, and cattle mooing in the throne room. Unless the last words you want to hear in your life are, "Why is animals?" from a council of outraged wizards, you'd better get everything sorted before their return. flapbat brings us this phenomenal free magickal animal rescue action puzzle adventure game that'll have you finding all the animals to bring them home. Farmyard Chronicle, Director's Cut is the beautifully-polished version of a game-in-a-week release centered on bouncing animals around the screen and into teleportation gates ("Fieeeld gooooal!") while getting bounced around yourself by sheep and kicked across pits by horses. No, really. It'll take plenty of artifacts to get everybody home, like rings that make you dash, teleportation wands to swap places with the critters, and even altering the flow of time itself.
In the course of gathering all the animals you'll also acquire runeshards, and each adorable critter you teleport back will bring an additional runeshard with it. Your nameless friend whose teleportation spell mishap loosed all the creatures in the first place is still back at the barn researching new spells to bring them all back — because as with all magickally-manufactured mishaps, the only solution is even more magick. Your friend can craft magickal items for you to use when you bring him the required amount of runeshards. Items like the Dash Ring, which can temporarily boost your speed and enable you to catch all those pesky sheep instead of just getting knocked around by them. Or the Sigil Ring, which enables you to open gates. The Displacement Staff was our favorite though; one zap can cause you to swap places with another creature, or with blue spheres you'll occasionally encounter, allowing you to access hitherto-inaccessible locations. All these items and more cause increasing amounts of the terrain to open up as you play, and they're used very creatively to provide a plethora of diverse and intriguing puzzles ranging from silly and fun to a couple which are downright devious and taxing. Movement is with the [arrow] keys, [Z] activates any item you might have currently equipped, and [X] cycles through your items.
We had loads of fun playing through Farmyard Chronicle, particularly since with a name like that we'd initially only been expecting the standard farming or resource management title. It's truly refreshing to encounter such innovation here and such a stable, well-developed RPG Maker title due to flapbat's diligence as a game developer. While many developers using RPG Maker would swap out the standard graphics set for something that looked different but released a game which was nevertheless comprised of the same old thing, flap has done just the opposite: kept the original stock graphics, and then implemented a lot of new gameplay dynamics. The result is a look any retro RPG fan would find comfortable and familiar combined with a gameplay experience that's all its own. Farmyard Chronicle has channeled the unspoken hopes of a generation of RPG fans wishing that the NPCs would just hurry up and get out of the way and Harvest Moon players who thought that for all the cuteness the game could use just a little more melee, into a unique and enjoyable title. No HP, no arbitrary time limits to hinder your puzzle-solving, just an innovative, quality play experience for free. Thanks, flap!
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