None of us were safe from the media and marketing blitz that hit before The Hunger Games movie was released a few weeks back. But one thing that managed to fly under the radar was a little game called The Hunger Games Adventures. Which probably has something to do with its beta launching only after the release of the movie. And how it was only recently opened to the public. But I’ve been playing it for a few weeks now, both for my own morbid curiosity/boredom AND so I could tell you all more than you ever wanted to know about it!
What’s the Deal?
Hunger Games Adventure (HGA) is a Facebook browser game. The basic story is that you’re a citizen of District 12 and you complete various quests that lead you to interact with Katniss, Gale, Peeta, and other residents of District 12. Except this game’s version of District 12 is super quaint and not at all representative of stark universe that Suzanne Collins created. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I imagine a video is worth even more than that. So here is the game’s official trailer:
How’s it Lookin’?
The game lets you customize your own avatar (male or female, with six different skin color choices). You have limited options to customize your outfit as well. The characters and the environment are very cutesy looking, in a way that is characteristic of what people have come to expect from browser games. And while that cutesy-ness is no way fitting with the actual story of The Hunger Games, it is fitting with the neutered version of Panem that is presented in this game.
This is where the game takes a turn for the bad. There are two elements to the game play here – the story based quest lines and the “endless” play area (more on that later). The stories behind the quests aren’t actually that bad – you are taken to all the areas of District 12 that you’d want to visit (the Justice Building, Mellark’s Bakery, the mines and more). Plus, the story interactions with the characters can be pretty funny at times. When Prim tells you to go find the Baker’s son because he’s SO STRONG, you can’t help but laugh. But the actual game mechanics of the quests are so uninspired and lacking in any skill or thought, you’d think this game is being marketed toward 3 year olds. The ONLY thing to do when questing is to click. Need to set a trap? Just click. And watch an action bar fill, for no other reason than to slow you down. Need to shoot and kill a muttation with your bow? Click three times. Don’t worry, the muttations can’t hurt you. Not at all. Need to fix a building? Just click FIVE times, and watch that action bar fill each of those five times. Need to know WHAT to click? Well, good thing there’s a GIANT green arrow hanging over it! Don’t even know where to look for said arrow? Check your quest log, because you can click a button that brings you to the EXACT location of whatever it is you need to click.
So if all that’s involved in questing is clicking different items, one after the other, what’s to keep you from beating everything in one sitting? Well, that’s where the game introduces the false “obstacle” of having energy. Energy is required for every action (or click) you take in the game. You are given a very limited bar of energy that is purposely set to run out very quickly and slow down your questing. So how do you get more energy? Well, you can wait. 1 energy is replenished every 5 minutes. Which is absurd, considering it can take anywhere from 5-25 energy just to complete one part of a quest. Your other option (of course) is to BUY energy. Not buy with game money (referred to as goods), but will real US dollars. So what does your hard earned real life money get you that you can’t get on your own? Not a damn thing. The designers purposely drag down the pace of their own game, to make it nearly unplayable at times, in hopes that you will part with your money. Just so you’re capable of playing the game at the pace it should naturally be. Now I’ve played a lot of “free”-to-play games that have set up revenue systems. And many of them aren’t bull-shitty at all. But HGA is set up in a way that strangles itself in a sad attempt to get cash. But, there is a third option (and, truly, the only reasonable one). If you have a friend who plays the game, you can “ask a friend” to give you items or energy. They don’t even need to have said item or energy for it to work. (Update: the designers have tweaked the game since this posted and now you can only request energy from a friend once a day.)
Now every Facebook browser game that attempts to have generate revenue should have some element of endless play. Like in Farmville, I’m assuming you can work on and build up your farm, nearly forever. But instead of a farm, HGA gives you a “forest escape.” This is like your home base. You can build things that generate goods or items or just build things for decoration. But after a couple of days you will find yourself with more “goods” than you can spend, and no more space in your forest escape. In which case there is nothing left to do.
This game only recently moved out of beta and became available to the public. For such a small game, it was still riddled with bugs and issues the last couple of weeks. There are even certain bugs in the game that can completely put a halt to the game. As in, certain bugs are so problematic that they stop you from being able to complete quests (and therefore move any further in the game). In the few weeks I’ve had to play, not a single issue ticket I put in was responded too. Which is pretty unacceptable, especially considering how many people have probably given this game some real life cash-money.
TL;DR or What’s the Verdict?
Truth be told, this game is pretty awful. Which is why I would never recommend it to anyone who wasn’t a huge fan of the series. But if you are a fan, then it’s worth playing through all the quests once (assuming a bug doesn’t prevent you from doing do!) because you will have fun spending time with the characters of District 12. But if you do play, make sure you have at least one friend who you can “gift” energy and items back and forth too. It’s the only way! Give it a try and let me know what you think!