Game Review: SHEPHERD’s CROSSING (PSP version)

A surpisingly highly addictive game for all. Kept me wide awake for days and nights!! A challenge for all gamers.

User Rating: 8.5 | Youkoso Hitsuji-Mura Portable PSP
Shepherd’s Crossing 2 is a highly addictive game that kept me sleepless for days. Up until now, I had the time to write this review while leaving my farm and actually simulating the day by day events. It is so very hard to put this game down once you’ve got into it and what is surprisingly interesting about it, is that there are no drawbacks in the game. So, its up to the player what he or she wants to do actually. A non-linear type of gameplay which will keep players yearning for more.

First Impressions:
It is an RPG in the line of Farming Simulation. I quickly remember the Sims game when I first played this. How you develop your game map and everybody and everything around you. Staff management and making things meet for unlocking certain things. I also remember Tetris, Lumines and Patapon for its addictive effects on me and the fact that is very playable while on the go.
It’s really annoying the first time I played this, coz’ there is no actual tutorial on the game controls. But mind you, you will understand that it really is up to you on how you deal with it and the rewards are great. Pure classic fun!

Story:
As a traveler, You have been to many places and then you reach Shepherd’s Crossing. A place beyond the mountains living via old ways. Farming, raising crops and livestock are the thing here. Claire meets you and offers you to rest a while stay at their village with Mayor Raymond’s permission. They then ask your help if you could assist them on their village by raising crops and livestock. As a Caretaker you shall be in charge of all goings-on in your area. 
Brammy, The duck. A know-it-all guide have been introduced to you and becomes your ally throughout the game. He carries this bottle on his back for personal reasons, he say. Then your life now starts as a farmer on this village at Shepherd’s Crossing.

The game begins!

Various events come as you progress throughout the game. Many of the characters help you one way or another as you achieve your goal to develop a fully productive farm.

Gameplay:
You are Bob Colin.(You can rename as you like) and you start with a very limited number of resources at first and small area of land and of course, the very hyper duck, Brammy.You’ll be introduced to certain types of tools, animals and plants and how you will get something out of it. Shops are available for you to trade animals, their produce, and plants. Almost every step of the way is explained by Brammy on how this chain of life goes on around you. You can also access this flow of life illustration by pressing the start button anytime. 

After some chapter progression, you will get to have markets, dog house, store house and your rest house. You move your character either by walking, dashing/speed run, or make a teleportation. You can search and scan you farm or take photos of it.

The really great obstacle at first is how you get past button controls familiarization. Its very upsetting everytime you make a wrong pick up of an item and place it unintentionally on the wrong direction. The Non-rigid layout of the farm is pretty much confusing also. You cannot stack up things on a matter of grids(eg.Farmville), instead you will be forced to learn how your controls work for you. How you decide which way will be better and comfortable for you will greatly affect if you can withstand the game itself. Patience will be rewarded in time. I for myself, learned that stones are great lined up horizontally and vertically while fences are beautifully placed diagonally. 

In time you will learn the trading dynamics and these will affect your game progress. You can play slow or do it rapidly. It really depends on your pacing. Overdoing many things has been one my problems but I successfully made planting/reproduction policies after many hours of playing it. There are many things to unlock. From, dog breeds to Fur color variations, to animal produce to ornaments and stuff. Almost all of these can be done in step by step fashion. Now that’s a lot of work isn’t it? This is where Brammy’s team come in. They’re ducks specializing in jobs that will make your tasks easier.As long as you give them the right tools, they will deliver in time. Having them or not is really not that important. As I have said earlier, its up to you how you use these available tools.

A year in the village consists of 4 different seasons. Each having approximately 30 days. Dandelion, Grape, Acorn and No Grass, respectively. Certain sets of seeds and trees grow specifically for some seasons which will prompt the player to prepare stock in your storehouse for future preparations(eg. No Grass Day, as the name implies has zero grass growth so grass eating animals will starve if you don’t have some grass at your disposal).

And after some animal raising, You get to unlock the HUNT GAME.You can register your dogs, mouse, etc as partners for some hunting missions given by your friends. You are allowed to bring with you 3 partners at max. Its rather challenging because various games(enemies), have these skills which will be difficult at first to beat. Teaching your hunting partners will give you the edge on easy missions. Going on a hunt with the inappropriate partners and skills will guarantee you certain loss. It helps a lot to combine different animals on one mission.

The game has decent presentation and the cutscenes were alright. The music background and effects are very well placed. The simplicity of it all makes it one charming game. Good for educational purposes too. 

Cons:
Brammy’s Team-often gets in the way. Especially Brammy.
Game Controls- takes some time to get used to.

Wrapping Up:
The game is very addictive and guarantees classic fun. A decent story at the least. The absence of gore and violence makes it a surefire stress-reliever when going home after work or while riding a crowded train. After playing this for almost 100+ hours I still don’t understand why I’m not putting it down.
originally published in Gamespot.com by midizeronine
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