Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff plays a whole lot like The Simpsons: Tapped Out, which makes sense, seeing as it’s another beloved property from Fox and they want to stick with what works. But The Quest for Stuff takes what makes Tapped Out so addictive and fun and improves upon it in many ways, all while keeping the more irreverent humor of the show intact. If you hate the many free-to-play world building titles that litter the App and Google Play stores this certainly won’t change your mind about them, but anyone who can appreciate having momentary spurts of fun with a game like this should download it immediately.
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The game starts with this video, which shows how the town of Quahog got destroyed. (Two words- Giant. Chicken.) It’s now up to you to rebuild all the locations from the show, find all the inhabitants and perform quests in order to reveal more of the town and get everything back to normal.
But before I say any more, a note. I didn’t play this game the way you will.
For this review developer TinyCo dumped a ton of premium currency into my account, because there would be simply no way to get through the bulk of the game's content without a boost. Like other free-to-play titles Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff utilizes the most dreaded of all game mechanics- timers. When you choose an action for a character it will take a certain amount of time for them to complete it, anywhere from six seconds, to four hours, to a day or more. The deeper you get into the game the longer the timers get, which is why some gamers hate this style of game. It's not the kind of game you can just sit down to play for an hour straight- it's designed to be played for for a few free minutes here and there, setting your characters to complete actions and trying to structure it around your schedule so it makes sense. (About to go to sleep? Set those characters for eight hour actions and get them working!)
This also means that it would have been impossible to check out much of the game in the few days I had with it without the premium currency, which are Golden Clams. In the game you can earn clams through a various tasks, or you can buy them with real money from the in-app store. The easiest way to get them is to buy them, because you’ll only get a handful of them through the game. Clams are used to buy premium content- characters, buildings, and decorations- that you otherwise can't get, but you can also use it to speed up the timers. Use a couple of clams and that one-hour action gets completed immediately! But this really isn't the way to play the game. You don't feel like you're actually achieving anything and you go through it so fast that many of the great jokes fly by you.
Plus, it's obscenely expensive. Testing out how fast I could plow through a section of the game I managed to spend what amounted to $150 in about five minutes, and felt dirty all over afterwards. Some of the decorations you can buy are ridiculously priced, like the Crippletron, which runs you 750 clams. 600 Clams runs you $19.99 in the store, so do the math. It’s a mere decoration too, albeit an animated one, so if you tap on it it does the robot for two seconds and goes back to standing around, looking pretty. The better thing to spend your money on if you choose are the extra characters, like the Brain Damaged Horse, who comes with his own quests.
So no, premium currency to hurry things up is not the way to go here. Ridiculous pricing model aside, you never need to spend money to enjoy this game. It does this kind of game really well. I personally enjoy these free-to-play games and have rarely spent a dime on them, playing through The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Jurassic Park, Clash of Clans and others, playing them for months until I got tired of the increasingly long timers and the feeling of being compelled to check in on my town every day. This may be the best of the bunch yet, though.
That may be because it feels a bit deeper, more “game-y”. While new characters are unlocked through buying a house to actually play with them is a bit harder than that, since they generally come with a quest. Dr. Hartman, for example, needs medical supplies, although he notes that he probably should have asked you for them before cutting up his patient. To complete a quest you’ll need to collect items (“Vicogin”, Pairs of Gloves, Tattoo Ink) by performing other actions with the characters. Certain actions have a chance of giving you certain items, so you have to guage what items you need before choosing what to make a character do. This gives you more of an incentive to try out different actions and not just put the longest timer on, mindlessly. Fortunately the animations are incredible and nearly every action features a new one, some involving multiple characters- like Lois and Peter locked in combat, or Joe spraying Quagmire in the face to get him used to mace.
New outfits can be unlocked for many of the characters, like Lois's S&M getup or Peter's Long Don Peter pirate oufit, which give them new actions. Characters earn experience for each action performed that allows them to level up, which will give them new actions. It's a smart system that encourages you to keep everyone busy at the same time. Sadly it can be hard to find who’s not busy sometimes since there's no indication that someone's free- you’ll have to hunt around the screen to see if anyone's free, hoping none are hidden behind buildings the way they sometimes can be. But each character has their own quests where they ask for your aid, which can be pretty hysterical, if as low-brow as you'd expect from the show.
Other quests happen at various levels in the game and give you enemies (essentially) to contend with, such as Lost Boys or Pirates or Cows, who swarm the town. You can’t fight them until you unlock certain characters or outfits- Joe Swanson scares away the Lost Boys by shooting off his gun, or Long Don Peter swashbuckling the Pirates out of existence. It adds a lot to the experience- rather than mindlessly making characters go through actions just to get money you're picking and choosing actions depending on the chance of getting certain items. (For the developers it makes sense because there's a better chance of you being pulled back into the game notifications!)
The "FaceSpace" pages each character has are a frequent source of humor, and they're updated every time you complete a quest for a character with a new post. You'll enjoy slowly building up the town, although you won't enjoy how hard it is to move buildings around on an iPhone, where your fingers cover up what you're moving and it can be tricky to navigate them. It's much easier on an iPad- hopefully this is something they can fix in the future.
But- take the excellent animation that looks ripped straight out of the show, lots of clever humor aided by the actual Family Guy writers, and a whole ton of free content right out of the game, and there's really no reason not to check this game out. If you hate free-to-play games this is not the game for you, but fans of the show with a little bit of patience will find plenty to enjoy.
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff was reviewed from an early iOS code provided by the publisher. It's also available for Android, although the iOS version comes with exclusive missions that give Peter a gold outfit and tub. It launched today on the iTunes and Google Play stores.
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