“Just like the Little Unicorn, you can create magic when you believe in yourself and cherish your friends.” – Sheri Fink
My Fantastic Ranch is a delightful, family-friendly building simulator where players can take care of magical dragons and unicorns whilst building relationships between them and the students that visit the ranch!
Developer: Piece of Cake Fabulous
Released: 17th November 2022
Price: £24.99 – £35.99
Platforms: Windows, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X
Available on: Steam, Epic, eShop, PlayStation
The game begins by offering the player a choice of normal mode or dream mode – the latter is essentially a creative mode that lacks the minor story elements, challenges and currency of the former. Upon entering normal mode the fairy called Feritella (the player’s personal assistant) appears to walk the player through a comprehensive tutorial that covers all the basics and gets the player set up with a simple ranch. The game is very family-friendly and accessible to younger audiences with detailed and easy-to-understand instructions and highly forgiving gameplay.
My Fantastic Ranch allows players to do all the things you might expect from this genre of game, including buying and caring for creatures, building barns and stables and managing staff and finances for the ranch. However in addition to this players also welcome students to their ranch, they will pay to visit and take classes with the animals and if they enjoy it they will spread the word and more visitors will arrive. Classes or challenges take place in a variety of arenas that can be built such as dressage, target practice or aerobatics.
Students completing arena lessons is a great way to earn gems, the in-game currency. Players start with 3000 gems but a significant portion of this is used by going through the tutorial. Gems can also be earned by paying to enter tournaments if the player has students enrolled, which requires the building of dorms. Students, creatures and staff can all earn badges that render them better suited to certain activities. If a student and creature have matching badges they will be a ‘super-duo’ and if they have two matching badges they are a ‘perfect match’ this gives them an advantage when completing lessons and tournaments.
Players can also level up the ranch’s reputation by completing objectives that appear sporadically, including some timed challenges. These can be anything from buying more creatures to building something new or getting more student’s enrolled and are very satisfying to achieve. Increasing the ranch’s reputation will unlock more buildings and decorative items to buy as well as different arenas.
New building areas are also unlocked through progress and there is a lot of scope to expand the ranch. additionally, moving existing buildings is straightforward, making redesigning an easy and enjoyable process. At the end of each week, a progress report will be delivered by Feritella so it is easy to see how the ranch is doing and what needs improvement.
Styling and Narrative
My Fantastic Ranch’s cute 3D artwork has a low poly style and consists of vibrant and pastel colour palettes. The adorable creature models are a particular highlight in terms of the visuals. The music sits largely in the background and is made up of jolly keyboard and piano with gentle drumming to create a calming but upbeat vibe. The ambient sound effects such as water running or birds chirping are also lovely and add an extra level of immersion to the experience.
The narrative elements of the game are very minimal and really just consist of the vague story of setting up the ranch and the relationships made between creatures and students as well as visits from a prince and princess. This is not really a downside though as there is plenty going on within the game and an extensive narrative would likely have been superfluous.
My Fantastic Ranch is a charming example of a building and management game and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The aesthetic and themes are very cute, in particular, the many different dragon and unicorn models are especially adorable! There is a decent amount of variety in the gameplay and it is certainly a lot of fun to build and manage the ranch, it is, however, a little simplistic at times making the game best suited to younger audiences and casual players as opposed to those looking for a very in-depth management experience. Whilst the game has a lot of good points, such as its styling and enjoyable laid-back gameplay, there is not quite enough content to justify a £35.99 price tag making it difficult to recommend on consoles.
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