Version Played: Android – Also available for Windows, macOS and Linux (here)
Following on from their previous mini-game – the cutely creepy cooking game, Kook’s Kitchen – Kuneko have brought us their second of a planned twelve (!) games; this time taking us beyond the kitchen and into the garden, with No More Gnomes.
With a similarly appealing art style and soundtrack, is No More Gnomes as much fun as the previous game?
It pains me to say this, but it’s very, very difficult to get into.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the game, which is a sort of Whack-a-Mole/shooting gallery type affair with nefarious Gnomes popping out of holes that you’ll need to smash with stones. As mentioned, it looks and sounds good – so what’s the issue?
The problem is that – being a free download – the game is ad supported. That’s an understandable, necessary evil for the developer – and isn’t a problem in and of itself – but when an unskippable 30 second ad plays the moment you press ‘Start’, and the game itself can be over in around 10 seconds, it’s clear that something’s gone wrong. Miss one gnome and it’s pretty much game over immediately – you’re kicked back to the title screen, at which point pressing ‘Start’ again plays another 30 second ad.
Imagine sitting down to play a console game for an hour, but to do so you have to sit through three hours of ads. That’s the ratio of ad to gameplay we’re dealing with here; having a more forgiving system of health or lives would have negated the problem, but unfortunately the game is simply too harsh in dealing with failure. It’s difficult to ‘get good’ at the game when you’re thrown out so quickly and then find yourself unable to simply jump back in to immediately try again; the flow of the game is broken and you never feel like you’re able to hit your stride with the gameplay.
It’s definitely a shame; there’s a simple and fun little gameplay loop here – much like sister title, Kook’s Kitchen – but at least in the previous game it was possible to build up a run of recipes before Game Over. Here, you’re lucky to get a few throws in before the end of the game.
There’s a version available for minimal cost on itch.io (at a minimum cost of $1), which likely fares better than the mobile version due to its lack of ads. I’ve not tried it, but if No More Gnomes does look like the sort of game you’d enjoy, I’d suggest staying away from the mobile port entirely and getting the Windows/macOS/Linux version instead.
Despite the disappointment with No More Gnomes, I’m still very keen to see what Kuneko come up with next. Hopefully, the third game – and the subsequent games they’re planning to release – will iron out the issues seen here. After the cute, frantic gameplay of Kook’s Kitchen, the second game feels like a step backwards – but there’s plenty of opportunity to rectify the problems seen here as the series continues.
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