Homescapes: A better version of Candy Crush? (review)

I vividly remember when Candy Crush became popular. I was a sophomore in college and it was right around the midterm season. I looked over to my buddy to find him playing a game on his phone instead of studying. I asked him what he was playing and it only took five minutes for me along with the rest of the world to get hooked on Candy Crush. I stopped playing a couple years back but to this day, I still get Candy Crush notifications for more lives. I admit, I shamelessly spammed all my Facebook friends to send me more lives. My productivity dropped drastically when I discovered that you could change the time zone on your phone which would reset the lives in the game. I was driving my friend to Mammoth to go snowboarding when I looked over and saw her playing a game that looked similar to Candy Crush. She responded by saying “I play this game every day and it’s better than Candy Crush”. My interest was piqued because that’s a pretty bold claim and I didn’t believe her. The game is called Homescapes by Playrix Games and I haven’t been able to put down my phone for the past three hours.

Homescapes
Homescapes
Developer: Playrix Games
Price: Free+
Homescapes
Homescapes
Developer: Playrix Games
Price: Free+

Gameplay

Homescapes introduces you to Austin the butler who is trying to prevent his parents from selling their family’s mansion. The parents are tired of the enormous amount of upkeep and want to sell it. Over time, the mansion has become old and needs a lot of renovation. Austin the butler is very fond of the house he grew up in and tries to change his parent’s mind by renovating and decorating the family mansion. Your job is to beat match-3 levels to earn stars that go towards tasks to renovate the mansion.

Mansion that needs to be renovated
Customize your decorations and renovation

The mechanics are very similar to Candy Crush. You can swap two adjacent pieces to make a row or column of three matching colored pieces. Every level has an objective such as matching forty pieces of the same color or collecting a certain number of cherries. There are various obstacles that make different levels more challenging and you must complete the level in a limited number of moves. If you don’t beat the level, you’ll lose a life. If you are successful in completing the level, you’ll be awarded a gold star and gold.

Gold is the in-game currency that can be used to purchase more lives, get five more turns at the end of a level, or buy boosters that let you start the level with power-ups. The gold star is used to complete tasks to renovate the mansion. It can also be used to decorate the house and customize the way you want the mansion to look.

Use gold to extend the level with five more turns

Power-up and power-up combos

Homescapes, like Candy Crush, has power-ups that help you complete your objective.

Rockets

Rockets clear all pieces in a row or column depending on which direction they’re pointed in. You get this power-up by matching four of the same pieces in a line

Bombs

Bombs are activated by a double tap and remove a significant number of pieces around the bomb. You can get this power-up by matching five or six pieces in an L or T formation

Paper Planes

Paper planes remove one random piece on the field. They tend to hit locked elements or level goals first. When taking off, paper planes destroy neighboring pieces. You can get this power-up by matching four pieces of the same type in a square.

Rainbow Balls

Rainbow balls remove all the pieces of the same color from the field. You can get them by matching five pieces in a line.

Power-up combos

If two power-ups are adjacent to each other, you can activate both for a special power-up combo. The combos are listed below.

  • Bomb + Bomb: Doubles the radius of the bomb effect
  • Bomb + Rocket: Removes three rows and columns of pieces
  • Rocket + Rocket: Removes one row and one column of pieces
  • Bomb or Rocket + Paper Plane: Makes the paper plane take the bomb or rocket along with it to a random tile
  • Plane + Plane: Makes three paper planes that target different pieces
  • Rainbow Ball + Rocket/Bomb/Plane: Makes the Rainbow Ball turn all the pieces of one type into respective power-ups
  • Rainbow Ball + Rainbow Ball: Removes all the pieces from the field, clearing one obstacle layer in the process

Impressions

This game is seriously fun. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and download the game. I actually agree with my friend and like it better than Candy Crush. Candy Crush gets boring because the only objective is to complete the level. Homescapes brings another layer of gameplay where you have added incentive to beat the level so you can renovate more of the house. The storyline with Austin the butler increases the replay value of the game because you want to keep coming back to put more progress into renovating the house.

The levels are challenging. Usually, these 3-match games take a while to ramp up in difficulty. I was already starting to lose lives at level 15 which I like because it presents more of a challenge. Like any games with a limited number of lives, these games can get a bit frustrating if you’re stuck on a hard level. You have the option of connecting your account to Facebook and asking for lives. Sound familiar? However, Homescapes does a good job of making it pretty easy to earn a substantial amount of gold which you can use to purchase more lives.

Overall

Homescapes is a win in my book. The mechanics are so easy to learn but the levels can get complex. The added storyline sets the game apart from something like Candy Crush. Beating a level feels rewarding because you earn a gold star to renovate the house. It’s cool to see the decrepit old house start to look revamped with your custom decorations. You can have a ton of fun without spending a single dime on the game. There are very little video ads which is so rare to find in a game these days. If you like puzzle games, go ahead and check out Homescapes. You will love it!

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