Smurf Life (iOS) review
Smurf Life is a new mobile game from Beeline Interactive, Capcom’s mobile arm and creators of the highly successful Smurfs’ Village game. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.
In Smurf Life, players take on the role of a custom-designed and named male or female Smurf who is attempting to help rebuild the Smurf village. One of the evil wizard Gargamel’s plans has gone awry, and it has had the side-effect of trapping most of the Smurfs either in damaged buildings or beneath banks of cloud. It is up to the player to help fix the problem by working on two main career areas: alchemy and building.
Gameplay in Smurf Life largely consists of completing quests for the various residents. Most of these quests require crafting to a certain degree or another, necessitating several steps to complete all the steps. For example, an early quest requires that the player create a red potion placebo to give some nervous Smurfs some courage; to accomplish this, the player must construct a mortar and pestle by collecting stone, then use the mortar and pestle to crush rose petals, then collect some water in a bucket, then combine all the ingredients together to finally make the potion. Recipes get increasingly complex as the player progresses through the game, and crafting all items takes varying amounts of real time — though as ever, these wait times may be bypassed by expending hard currency.
Smurf Life differs from Smurfs’ Village in that the focus is more on the player’s character and their adventures rather than the construction efforts of the whole village. The player takes direct control of their character and interacts with the other Smurfs, and must learn to find their way around the village rather than being able to freely scroll around. The control scheme takes a little adjusting to initially — players may either tap to walk to a specific place, or tap and hold on the screen to have their character follow their finger until it is released. In the former case, the Smurf will automatically walk around obstacles, but in the latter case, they will simply blindly follow the player’s finger and blunder into obstacles if they are in the way. To aid with navigation, a Compass feature allows the player to “target” items they have found before and easily plot a route to them. When on a quest, too, a sparkling trail (similar to that seen in the popular console game Fable) is drawn on the floor from the player’s location to the appropriate person or object they need to interact with next.
Smurf Life’s monetization stems from various uses of its hard currency Moondust. This may be used to restore energy, purchase premium items or bypass wait times. The energy mechanic is relatively generous early in the game, allowing players the opportunity to get a good feel for what is going on without their play sessions being throttled, though it would still be somewhat preferable from a user experience perspective if it were not present at all — particularly once the players starts having to harvest resources such as iron, which take 10 or more energy points per tap to collect. A number of App Store reviewers have given the game one-star reviews for what they see as overenthusiastic monetization, and also for the fact that the rewards for completing one quest are often less than the required expenditure to complete the next, making it difficult to progress without spending money at times.
These issues aside, Smurf Life is a fun game. Its presentation is excellent, with beautiful cartoony Retina display graphics, high-quality music and sound (albeit with the former sporting a few questionable loop points) and excellent animation. The game captures the look and feel of the original Smurfs cartoons very well, and the gameplay is pleasingly different from the usual isometric-perspective building sims. It’s well worth a look, in short, and if its predecessor is anything to go by, it’s also likely to enjoy some long-term success if Beeline keeps the new content coming.
Smurf Life is currently ranked at No. 163 in Top Grossing Apps, No. 250 in Top Free iPad Apps, No. 95 in Top Grossing iPad Apps, No. 341 in Top Free Games, No. 132 in Top Grossing Games, No. 109 in Top Free iPad Games and No. 69 in Top Grossing iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
A fun game that does something a little different — albeit perhaps a little heavy-handed on the monetization.