I won’t have any Rune Factory 4 updates for a while, so I thought I’d fill the gap by talking about some of the casual games I kill time with here and there. I may be a filthy casual, but I’m still an avid gamer so I play not one, not two but six casual games to pass the time. In no particular order:
Rakuen Seikatsu Hitsuji Mura (now mostly dropped but I still log in occasionally)
Ring ☆ Dream
Candy Crush Soda Saga
Scrubby Dubby Saga
Blossom Blast Saga
Paradise Bay (the subject of today’s post)
Paradise Bay comes from King, developers of Candy Crush and all the other ‘Saga’ games you see in the list above. Unlike the others it is not a puzzle game. It’s more like… maybe Harvest Moon meets Animal Crossing? Or Anno but a very very dumbed down version? It’s a slice of life game where you fish and farm and craft items to trade through quests so you can get money and EXP to unlock new island areas and recipes and production mills.
In between all that you do events and develop relationships with the islanders by crafting even more items and doing even more quests. That’s the second best part of the game for me. The best part is the laid back low-pressure beach atmosphere. I loved the seafaring aspect of Anno 1404, it always seemed so watery and beachy and seagully and stuff, but there was time pressure and danger and a life-or-death aspect to it that stressed me out a bit. It’s comforting to know that no matter how many weeks I keep Finn waiting for his raft and grilled fish he’s not going to devolve into a peasant and start burning down my settlement.
But as I said, second best part, building relationships. I didn’t expect to like the cast as much as I do now, but they’re all kinds of fun. In a very laid back snarky-but-they-really-love-each-other kind of way. The original cast of Keani, Finn, Wesley and Pike have the best interactions. Finn as the lovable scamp, Pike as the lovable grump, Wesley the voice of reason who is not so above it all, Keani the voice of reason who is above it all but who manages to seem friendly and relateable anyway because she doesn’t nag too much.
That’s why I made the comparison to Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, not just because of the farming and fishing but because a large part of the fun comes from hanging out with the characters. Without the cast, Paradise Bay would be just… blargh, not worth playing. You don’t actually talk to people as much as the promotional blurbs would have you believe, but there’s an ongoing story (of sorts) and each character has an ongoing character arc you reveal by grinding their affection up.
Best part is, it’s… uh, third best part is, it’s all 100% at your own pace. It really is paradisaical, nothing bad ever happens to anything or anyone. I don’t even log that often, maybe two or three times a day unless I’m doing the occasional timed dive. I’ve never been penalized for that. No bad weather, no withering crops, no dead pets, no angry guilt-tripping neighbors (Animal Crossing, don’t look at me, I haven’t mentioned your name) or weed-ridden town, nothing like that. There’s no stamina or HP system either, so you just play as and when the mood strikes you. Perfect casual fare for casual scum like me.
This is where I would normally post screenshots of my farm and show you guys around but… I can’t figure out how to take screenshots on my tablet. -_-;; I’m supposed to hold down the volume key and the home button at the same time… nope, no good. It sends me back to the home screen. You’ll have to settle for official Paradise Bay promo images instead. Official promo images like the one on the right where Keani’s skin is a few shades lighter than it actually is in the game. I’ll figure screenshots out and prove it one of these days.
In the meantime, no game in perfect, so time for the flaws:
Flaw 1: You can’t play it offline.
Flaw 2: Every time you leave Paradise Bay and come back you have to load the game from scratch and it takes anything from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on your connection and on whether there’s a new update or not.
Flaw 3: Updates are not optional. You have to install them before you can keep playing. I understand the reasoning but some of them take so long to download, it’s quite annoying.
Flaw 4: A lot of thing in the game are either very expensive or take a very long time to do. For example a well-paying quest will give you about 1000 gold as a reward. The most expensive item you can sell nets about 1600 gold. I’m at the stage where I need 100,000+ to buy new mills and clear new areas, so you can imagine how long this is going to take. The “solution” as you may have guessed, is to pay money for purple crystals to bypass such inconvenient requirements.
Flaw 5: The island is a bit oddly shaped so it’s hard to get your farm looking all neat and tidy like you want to it to be.
Flaw 6: You have to use Facebook to add friends. You can’t pay me enough to use Facebook again (though if you insist on trying…). There’s a non-Facebook ‘friend’ option, but that’s more like glorified stalking where you stake out their stores and visit their islands without them ever knowing about it. Kinda creepy tbh.
Flaw 7: There isn’t really much to do outside of quests, crafting and deforesting a small island. Occasional events are a breath of fresh air but they still involve more crafting and questing. At the same time I don’t want them to add so much stuff that the game feels “busy” so I guess it’s okay as it is.
Flaw 8: Needs more story. I’ve caught up with the story so far and it takes too long to raise character affection these days. Maybe they should do some story-heavy events to pass the time.
Aaand that’s about it for Paradise Bay. I’ve been playing it since early December, I think? Couple of months. And unless they mess up somehow I’ll be playing it casually for months to come. I’m a little worried they’ll take it down for non-profitability since it’s so easy to play for free but, eh, not my problem. Until then it’s more sun and surf and quest after quest after quest for me.