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Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition Review

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Aardman Animations are a national treasure, and we won’t hear any differently. Shaun the Sheep might not be the most universally loved of their characters – Wallace and Gromit probably take that Wensleydale crown – but we find something cracking about him. It’s the resigned understanding that he’s got to keep everyone in line, from the sheep to the farmer. Anyone who’s had to shoulder responsibility will probably see themselves in Shaun.

What Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition manages to achieve, as a kind of minor miracle, is capturing that resigned hero role. Because while it is a cooperative puzzle game in a similar vein to Lost Vikings and Trine, Shaun is the one who has to do all the heavy lifting. Not literally – pushing things is Shirley’s ability – but Shaun is the one who orchestrates the puzzle and the other two characters teeter on being liabilities. It’s the show in microcosm.

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Home Sheep Home Farmageddon Party Edition is multiplayer madness

Shaun can jump about twice as high as Timmy and Shirley. That immediately makes him the go-getter, travelling the game-screen to find secrets and tools for completing the level. He can also push things pretty well, making him a Shirley when you don’t have Shirley. And he’s small enough to fit into most gaps, albeit not the tiny Timmy-sized ones. He’s the all-rounder and we would fight over playing as him.

That’s the ‘Party’ in the title: this is a puzzle game that can be played with three players, or four if you’re playing some attached minigames. So, we played as a family, one young sheep and two older sheep, trying in vain to coordinate and solve the puzzles that were thrown at us. It alternated from ‘fumbling our way to the exit’ to ‘outright disaster’. That’s not Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition’s fault particularly: we were just playing with a griefing troll. Our littlest was more interested in ruining everything than contributing, the scallywag.

The puzzles tend to present a series of tools that the team can use, an exit signpost at the end of the level, and a blockage that needs to be overcome. A simpler level puts a wall in front of the exit yet offers you a trampoline. You can probably guess what you have to do. But latter levels get increasingly devious, as pendulums are swung, portals are opened, and CCTV cameras are evaded. The puzzles often need a deal of translating – what does it want you to do? – before tying yourselves in knots pulling it off.

We cannot understate how well designed these levels are. Not one is reminiscent of another for a start, which is an achievement considering there are seventy-odd levels here. They take you to outlandishly different places, from Big Ben to a flying saucer, and those places leverage the setting to a fantastic degree. Big Ben has you traversing the clock hands, winding the mechanism to make a perfect bridge, for example.

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The puzzles can be explosive

The solutions have you and your team collaborating in fun ways too. Stacking an inverse pyramid behind a strange-shaped hedge was a highlight, as was standing on a moving lorry, using Shirley to smash incoming traffic lights so that the others could pass. There’s a determination to get the team working together, admittedly with Shaun taking the lead.

There is a ‘but’ in there. Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition is a physics-based game, with cabbages bouncing on trampolines, and wooden planks being carefully teetered to form bridges. As a team, you often have to work with the physics to solve the puzzles, wrestling the quirks and making a path to the exit. And it’s in these physics-heavy puzzles that the joy is often shorn off and naked frustration is left behind.

You haven’t tasted annoyance until you’ve accidentally jammed a trampoline into a trench. It’s the dark side of Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition, as you and your family desperately wrangle bits of environment into the right places. But there are three of you, crammed into a small screen, getting in each other’s way (the characters block each other) and each capable of accidentally nudging a construction that you have made. So many errors were made by blundering into stuff; other errors were made by an impish eight-year old deliberately doing it.

And then there’s the stacking. Levels require you to stand on each other to reach platforms, but you are all circles, effectively, which gives you an idea how that goes. We slipped and slid over each other, tumbling like Jenga. If Shirley needs to stand on Timmy? Fuhgeddaboutit. When levels required stacking at speed, well, we tore our wool out.

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Sheep Jenga

Man it’s a shame, because it adds some tension into what is otherwise a cracking good time. The brilliantly designed levels are ever-so slightly at odds with some awkward physics, and the result isn’t quite the ‘party’ of the title.

Luckily, on hand are some minigames for four players to partake in, and they sweeten the deal. Throwaway, bonkers and a fantastic distraction, they have the four of you playing volleyball, dodging swinging hay bales, and trying to stay on cars. Outside of the volleyball, we didn’t play any of them at length – they’re not quite good enough for that – but they all had us buckled over in spasms of laughter. Utter chaos.

We’re racking our brains, and we think Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition represents the best Aardman game we’ve played (just pipping the Telltale Wallace and Gromits). It’s got some knots in the wool with regard to its physics engine and stacking characters on top of each other, but otherwise you can be confident in a cooperative family experience that will reveal just how helpful you all are. In our case, it was ‘not very’.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Brilliantly inventive puzzles
  • Hilarious minigames
  • Plenty of content to be getting on with
Cons:
  • Physics can be awkward
  • Stacking sheep equally so
  • Minigames are a little disposable
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Greenlight Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5
  • Release date and price - 26 May 2023 | £8.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Brilliantly inventive puzzles</li> <li>Hilarious minigames</li> <li>Plenty of content to be getting on with</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Physics can be awkward</li> <li>Stacking sheep equally so</li> <li>Minigames are a little disposable</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Greenlight Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5 <li>Release date and price - 26 May 2023 | £8.99</li> </ul>Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition Review
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