Joy Kingdom review
Joy Kingdom is a Facebook game from Sojo Studios, developers of WeTopia. Like their previous title, Joy Kingdom is an awareness-raising game that allows players to contribute to various real-world charitable projects through playing — though this time the focus is on animal welfare rather than projects to benefit human communities. It is presently available to the public in open beta on Facebook. The game showed up as the No. 7 emerging Facebook game last week.
The basic gameplay is Joy Kingdom is fairly conventional. Through purchasing structures, building and farming, players will earn various resources with which they can continue to unlock additional items. The eventual aim is to clean up the tainted land of all the “shadowy” creatures and plants, and bring joy back to the land.
The main focus of the game is generating the Joy resource in order to provide help to the various real-world projects. Choosing to help a real-world project means that the player must place a “spirit animal” representing the project in their game world, and when they have collected enough Joy they may feed it to the animal to help increase the amount of support that project will get.
Joy is accumulated by attracting various animals into the player’s land and then feeding them. This process involves collecting mana and various other resources through clearing junk items out of the way, then “building” the animal in a specific location, using the resources required to attract it then using food resources accumulated through farming to feed it. The animal then produces Joy in varying quantities, which can subsequently be given to the spirit animals.
Regrettably, Joy Kingdom is not in a state which can reasonably be called “playable” at present. While the rather long-winded and non-skippable tutorial works perfectly, as soon as the player is let loose on the game proper, an error message appears saying that the game was unable to save their progress, and that they should reload the page to continue. Unfortunately, this resets the tutorial, meaning that the player must go through it all again. This issue happened on three different computers (two Windows, one Mac OS X) when tested.
This is a great shame, because the potential in Joy Kingdom is immediately apparent, even in the rather suffocating tutorial. There seems to be a wide variety of things for players to do, the presentation is good and the integration with the charitable initiatives is well thought out — every time the player “levels up” their spirit animals by providing them with enough Joy, they get to watch a short video showing how their “contributions” are helping animals. The player is also able to review videos when choosing which of the projects they would like to support with their efforts, meaning the game helps to educate players while entertaining them — much like WeTopia did so successfully.
Joy Kingdom is one to check back on when it’s more stable, then — we’ll revisit it when its present issues have been resolved and the game proper is playable. As it stands right now, however, it’s little more than a good idea with a lot of apparently unrealized potential.
A great idea — but one which apparently doesn’t work just yet!
UPDATE: Since this review was first posted in late December, the developer Sojo Studios reached out to us and explained that the issues evident at the time of testing were due to server capacity issues prior to and over the holiday season. As of January 3, these issues appear to have been resolved, and the game seems to be fully playable. The slick presentation and interesting charity angle make this title worth a look despite some fairly conventional “build and collect” gameplay.