The match-3 puzzle game market is full of so many different games, that it’s easy to get lost for choice. If your question is “Which one should I spend my time playing?” If your answer is “anything but Candy Crush,” then allow us to introduce you to Family Zoo: The Story.
Playable across a wide range of platforms – including iOS, Android and through your browser on Facebook – Family Zoo: The Story takes the tried and tested puzzle game format and adds a truckload of cute animals and a storyline of zoo redevelopment in, together with strategy/building game mechanics.
The story casts you as Charlotte, keeper of a family-run zoo that is far past its prime. Completely opposite to its worldwide attraction of old, the zoo starts as an empty lot – pens in ruins, an audience of exactly zero and a city that plans to demolish & build a supermarket instead.
It is your job to rebuild the zoo back to its former glory – choosing from thousands of different items like fast food stands, rides, coffee shops and (of course) zoo animals. And to do this, you will be completing increasingly puzzling match-3 levels. The story very much looms in the background, but not to a point that it gets in the way of the gameplay. The plot very much remains an ideal window dressing, making for a good reason to keep things colorful in the visual department.
A bubbly soundtrack of twee orchestral movements and animal noises welcome you to the colorful and engaging world of Family Zoo. Complementing the sounds rather ably is the rather lovely illustrated art style of the visuals, bringing this world to life through a whole host of cute animals and all the on-screen cues of a zoo’s gradual redevelopment.
The gameplay is exactly as you’d expect from a match-3 puzzle title fused with Theme Park-style building mechanics – and by that I mean it’s addictive fun. Going across hundreds of levels in areas such as the Safari Danger Zone, you will complete these levels to unlock more elements to build your family zoo into a juggernaut of entertainment.
As is expected from this genre of game, you will be offered a few power-ups and boosters, to help you on your way. These range from the larger explosions like the Watermelon Splash and Big Barrel, to the subtler power-ups like the Rake – which remove just one tile of your choice and, while small, could change the course of a match entirely.
Our favorite bit about this game is that the end doesn’t actually mean it’s over. Unlike some other games in this genre, more zones and more animals will be unlocked just as quick as the developer introduces them. Nice to know the game carries on at a nice pace.
So what are we left with? Simply put, Family Zoo is a match-3 puzzler with heart – luring you in with cute zoo animals and keeping you hooked with addictive gameplay traits. Strap in for the long haul.