If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games book, movie, or both, we have some very exciting news for you: The official social game based on the story is coming to the iPad very soon — and it’s really good!
The Hunger Games Adventures game has been a huge hit on Facebook since the movie hit theaters in March. The iPad version is built from that game, but adds greater depth to the story, better graphics, and more intuitive controls. And the fact that you can play it from your iPad anytime without having to be logged into Facebook is a pretty big advantage, too.
The game could have gone the obvious route of having you play Katniss or Peeta, but the designers wisely opted to go a different path: You play a character of your own, who starts out a Citizen of District 12 and works his/her way towards becoming the next hero of Panem. And all the familiar characters from the story are there: Katniss and Peeta, of course; but also the other Tributes; and Primrose, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, and President Snow; and that’s not even everyone.
The game drops you in District 12 and gives you access to certain areas, most of which will seem very familiar to those who know the story. You’re also given a part of the forest that’s all your own, where you gradually set up more and more tools, decorations, places to rest, and such. It’s there that you get the most freedom — you can rearrange things as much as you want, and, while you’ll have to buy certain things to move the story along, you’ll unlock a lot of things you can pick and choose between as well.
There are several stats that are vitally important to the game: Energy, Experience, and Goods. Everything you need to do costs Energy, and while Energy is replenished automatically, that happens very slowly, which results in you being forced to take breaks from playing the game because you simply won’t be able to do anything — this is actually a pretty good idea, if you think about it. You will get a few items that will replenish some energy, but they only will a little bit, and they take a while to “recharge,” too. Goods are essentially money, and are used to acquire items or unlock new sections of your forest area for use; you get Goods by doing pretty much anything, and they add up pretty quickly. Experience is just what you’d expect: you accumulate it by taking various actions, and when you fill up the bar you go up a level, which increases your maximum Energy (and refills it as well). There are also Mockingjay pins that you can purchase with real money that will allow you to refill your Energy or take other shortcuts here and there.
So, what do you actually do in the game? You’ll be given missions by the various characters: people you need to help, things you need to find or build, new items you need to purchase, and the like. Some of these will give you Goods and Experience, and are optional; others move the story along and are therefore necessary — and they’re all helpfully labelled so you can decide what to do next at any point in time.
Along the way you collect all sorts of items, some of which, like wood, you can get by chopping down any of the many trees you’ll find. Others require specific tools to create, from needing a First Aid Table to get bandages to needing a Workshop to craft bricks, nets, or better work tools. Crafting things is another thing that deliberately slows the game down, as you frequently have to wait hours for the thing you’re crafting to be ready — but at least you can do other things in the game while it’s going.
All in all, it’s a pretty fun experience, particularly for kids but also for adults. What violence there is is very cartoony, and is mostly confined to “banishing” various nasty creatures before they hurt someone. The missions all have options that basically hold your hand and show you what you need to do, but you don’t have to take the hints, and even if you do there’s a certain sense of satisfaction when you finish one mission and receive a new one. As you progress through the game, it holds your hand less and less, expecting you to remember, say, where to get bandages so you can treat another character’s wounds. Kids may be a little frustrated at first with frequently being forced to put the game down for a while, but as they continue playing I think they’ll grow to see that it only helps with the immersion in the world of the game — after all, in the real world you need to go to sleep every now and then.
The one thing the game doesn’t have (although they’re working on it for the future) is the ability to transfer your character and stuff over from the Facebook version of the game. I would imagine this could be a bit frustrating for people who’ve been playing that version for some time, but the experience of the iPad game is different enough that many such people might find it fun to start over, anyway.
The Hunger Game Adventures for the iPad will be available in the iTunes App Store very soon — the exact date isn’t yet certain. Fans of the story won’t be disappointed, I promise you. And probably a lot of not-yet-fans would have fun playing it, perhaps as a precursor to reading the book and/or seeing the movie.
GeekDad was provided with a review copy of the game.