Farming games have been around for a long time, the earliest I know of is SimFarm released in 1993 although, being a console gamer, I was more familiar with Harvest Moon released in 1996. Throughout the years, Iv noticed little change in the genre except of course for graphical quality, as a general rule, most farming titles are all much of a muchness and gamers are usually swayed by personal choice. Perhaps this is why I never really went for the FarmVille scene and I generally avoid social games of this type so I’m not really sure what possessed me to download Hay Day, but I’m glad I did, it takes the tired old system and injects new life.
The visual style is a little bit cutesy but at the same time, well detailed. The colors are vibrant and luscious and really comfortable, animations are seamless with a comical quality, they really play on stereotypes but manage it in a good way. There’s a subtle banjo melody in the background accompanied by some ambient animal noises, its actually very soothing and adds some real atmosphere. On the whole, Hay Day is a very attractive game, the audio and graphical components have been given a lot of attention.
As good as these elements are, it’s not what makes Hay Day special. When you first begin you have only a modest property, a house, barn, and a few planting patches, there’s a brief tutorial and then you’re on your own. You can grow your crops and sell them direct on your roadside stall, but there’s not much money in that, so you can invest in processing options, like the bakery, where you can bake your wheat into bread and make more profit from it. As you gain access to more crops and new animals, your production options also increase. Crop growing times are very short with each crop having multiple uses you have a high turnover, wheat for example, can be baked into bread, used to make more stock feed or used to make pies.
Hay Day utilizes the touch screen incredibly well, every motion is designed to be effortless. Tap on any planting field and a selection of available vegetables appears, simply dragging it onto the field plants it, or you can continue to drag it over multiple fields and plant as many as you need with a single swipe, a refreshing change to the usual method of selecting each field individually. When your crops are ready, tapping on one will bring up an image of a scythe, dragging the scythe across all the finished fields harvests them all at once, this is a huge time saver and makes the gameplay flow much more smoothly, in similar games like We Farm the repetition of planting crops tends to become a chore and eventually discourages players. The same technique can be used for all your animals and trees as well so maintaining your farm processes is a quick job. Moving objects involves simply holding down on the object for about 1 second, then just slide and release where you want it, redecorating is often too big a deal to worry about in farm sims but here it’s a quick and painless process.
To increase your income and gain experience you have a job board where local business’s post their orders, these jobs give you good returns so they’re worth your time to put together, some orders require 5-6 different items and some just 1 item in high volume. You’ll also get random visitors walk into your farm asking for specific items, sometimes you can get some amazing prices this way but they don’t always ask for items you have stocked. You can prepare items in advance to fill out orders but you have to keep in mind that your storage space is limited, at the beginning you have a barn which can hold 50 items and a silo that can hold 50 crop produce. These can be upgraded but require special items that are hard to come by, each upgrade adds an extra 25 storage spaces, you can purchase the required items through IAP but with a little micromanagement you should have enough storage space to progress for free.
You can upgrade your house by completing achievement milestones, and you can view these objectives anytime by tapping on the house. Social network integration is enabled via Facebook and Game Centre, any friends who play will automatically be added as neighbors and visiting their farms is just a tap away. Loading times are remarkably short and if you need anything for an order you can check out your neighbors roadside stalls, you can set your own prices on your stall so you can expect some fairly exorbitant prices but sometimes it’s worth the extra cost. If your friends have any wilted fruit trees you can revive them for one more harvest, and occasionally, you’ll find a treasure chest on their property which could have some rare upgrade items in it.
In my opinion, Hay Day, is the new king of farming sims, the controls are simply magic and the gameplay is peerless. Remember to reset your device after downloading, or you may experience some instability. The short process times make it feel like you accomplish more yet the progression is still quite relaxed. I didn’t want it to happen but I quickly became addicted to this title even checking in every 20 minutes just to collect my eggs. As much as it pains me, I’m giving a farm sim 5 stars, Hay Day is an absolute pleasure to play.
Hay Day Achievements