Funky Barn Review
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On 01/02/2013 at 03:59 PM by Nick DiMola
With a bigger budget, 505 could've had a real hit on their hands.
If you can grab it cheap, it's worth your time and money.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to turn in my gamer card for this one, but Funky Barn is a legitimately fun game. I know it sounds like shovelware garbage, and it does seem like it was built on the budget of such a title, but the farm sim is actually competent in its design, complete with an addictive game loop. Unfortunately the game's low budget is painfully obvious – from the low quality art to the long loading times to the hard freezes, Funky Barn has a healthy dose of anti-funk.
Like any good sim, Funky Barn starts simple. You have a small cache of money that allows you to build out a simple set of structures to house your single chicken, delivered post-haste by stork. Once you've set your lone bird up with food, water, and shelter it starts producing eggs, which can be sold for profit. This of course allows you to expand your farm, but it also counts towards completing some preset goals for your farm, which in turn levels up the farm and enables the stork to bring new animals.
New animals mean new accommodations, some of which must be unique for the given animal. Furthermore, animals at your farm don't co-exist well, so you'll quickly be fencing them off from each other to maintain their happiness. Unhappy animals leave the farm and set back your efforts to establish a booming business.
As you add more animals, you must harvest their goods in unique ways. Cows must be milked, sheep must be sheared, and eggs must be collected from chickens. However, all of this becomes extremely time-consuming and eventually impossible to manage when too many animals inhabit your farm. As such, Funky Barn provides you with the ability to accomplish some of these tasks automatically. Once you lay in some roads you can build egg collectors that can automatically scoop up laid eggs and cash them in for more money. Shearing machines can nab up sheep ready for harvest and wool collectors can perform a similar task to the egg collectors and redeem the goods for cash money.
Plodding along, you'll be forced to contend with your growing farm, as well as the occasional special request from neighboring farms to earn great sums of money. All of the machinery and animal homes on the farm can be upgraded, making it easier to earn money without investing much manual effort.
Despite these simplifications, the farm will never outright run itself. You'll always have to feed and water your animals and on occasion some will escape. Even alien abductors must be chased off when your automatic preventions fail. Natural disasters will force you to both save your animals and quickly rebuild destroyed portions of your farm.
The most gratifying part of the experience is the constant tinkering of the farm set up to accommodate the influx of animals brought by the stork at a regular interval and contending with the various temporal events. However, all of this can be swept away in a minute due to some poor choices within the budgetary constraints of the title.
Though it may seem like an obvious feature, Funky Barn offers no auto-saving, and even worse, it's prone to hard freezing. I lost an entire night's worth of progress because I forgot to save at a regular enough interval before the game froze.
Getting back into the game is a long process, not only because it takes 3-4 minutes to load, but because the ramp to a nearly automatic farm is a long one that takes many hours. Furthermore, the game doesn't hold the same charm as the first time through as it only takes one time through to get a feel for how to maximize the effectiveness of the cash on hand to produce the most functional barn.
After my great disappointment, I moved on to the challenge mode that provides a set of three failing farms that must be brought back up to fruitful production. The challenge isn't horribly steep, but it does provide a unique and interesting task that's not entirely similar to the main game.
What will strike most players most immediately when booting the game is the absolutely atrocious artwork during the boot screen and the low-res models and world that follow. Launch titles on a new system should look great, better than anything currently on the market, but Funky Barn looks like it belongs on the PlayStation 2. However, again, the lack of budget shows through because when the game gets in motion it's brimming with character. The various machines are creatively designed and are hilariously animated, comically grabbing up animals to accomplish their tasks. Once everything in the farm is in motion, it's both fun and satisfying to observe.
Funky Barn is a fun game, but one that is clearly hurt by its budgetary restraints. Had the team been offered a bigger budget, it could've been that much cleaner in its implementation and even deeper mechanically to provide for longer lasting simulations. If you can grab Funky Barn on the cheap, you shouldn't hesitate, just remember – save frequently!