Review: Fruit for the Village
Whilst an interesting idea, the experience is too basic and lacks longevity.
VRFocus is all for the weird and wonderful when it comes to gameplay design, especially when it’s an indie developer experimenting with something a little different. As most virtual reality (VR) gamers have realised the market is over saturated with first-person shooters (FPS), which is probably why titles like Beat Saber have done so well, catching the public’s imagination with a simple yet effective experience. Another indie studio, Eerie Bear Games has also tried pushing its creative boundaries with its second VR title Fruit for the Village. And while this does feature a repetitive, almost musical design, monotony soon steps in.
Taking what the studio learnt with its first VR title Light Repair Team #4, Eerie Bear Games has created another puzzle style videogame but this time with a strong narrative story for a richer experience. Set in a far flung future where mankind has finally ruined the world through war and climate change, the planet has been turned into a dust bowl. Humanity now survives in small communities and you play a survivor who turns up at a village and decides to help them out. You do this by growing food, which can only be done inside a nearby cave because surface conditions are too harsh.
So the entire experience is set on a wooden elevator, which lowers from the surface all the way to the bottom of the cave. On the way down is a shop which sells three items, a single plant pot, quad plant pot and a device called an autogrower. Then at the bottom is a fruit bowl which needs to be given to the village before they starve.
Fruit for the Village works by buying the pots then bizarrely, playing these small wooden xylophone type instruments that are attached. These in turn grow the plants which hit a certain size and then add to the cash total. Each bowl of fruit for the village costs a certain amount, helping raise the food bar to 100 percent. The difficulty lays in the fact that purchasing anything increases its next cost, so you have to weigh up saving the cash or spending it on more gardening bits.
Completely contained within this wooden elevator which descends into this lush looking cave filled with water falls and vegetation the start of Fruit for the Village is quite fun, playing away on these pots trying to raise cash. Unfortunately there’s no variance in sound so the little chimes that play soon become repetitive and annoying. The experience then picks up again once you’ve got enough cash to by autogrowers as the plant pots can be cleverly positioned so one autogrower can activate several pots at once. This is when the proper farming takes place and grabbing those xylophone sticks isn’t needed.
As the village continues to be fed Eerie Bears Games reveals a little of the story via a villager chatting to you over the radio. This is all well and good, trying to add some interest in progressing through the campaign. Yet the core gameplay becomes so mundane that if you fail in your attempt then the desire to replay Fruit for the Village just doesn’t exist.
Should you complete the main campaign then there’s always survival mode, which is exactly the same just without end, like some kind of VR torture. There’s nothing wrong with throwing the rulebook out and trying something new but there’s always that chance something doesn’t click. And it doesn’t with Fruit for the Village. It’s easy to see there’s polish and finesse to the title yet the core gameplay is more gamejam than professional puzzler.