The best way to describe NEOWIZ’s Keri Racing (out now, free) would be to describe it as the most probable results were FarmVille ever to have a baby with a Chocobo racing mini game from one of the Final Fantasy titles. I will start off this review by immediately saying that even though the game is completely free to download, and does have a bevy of IAP options, the app is actually not ruined by an all encompassing IAP greed like Rule the Kingdom was. Keri Racing is – however – a game that still has its own share of problems that must be duly chronicled, but I will get to the task of listing those off later in the review.
The farming component of Keri Racing essentially plays a lot like the extremely well known FarmVille, with the player slowly expanding the profitability of their property by growing food – which rots if left alone too along – and then turning it into various products. With each major action you take on your farmland – such as harvesting a crop or operating a business facility – you will use up some of your energy points, with your maximum possible energy points at any given time being controlled by your current level. You will become incapable of completing any actions on your homeland when you are out of energy, which recharges slowly over time, but any friends of yours that also have the game can help you out by going to you farm and using their own energy to interact with your installations.
What significantly separates Keri Racing from infamously greedy IAP driven free games – such as Rule the Kingdom – is that progress, sans madness, is actually very possible to achieve here for people who don’t make a micro transaction every few minutes. Where as Rule the Kingdom was designed such that you desperately needed the item you were forbidden from buying in game based on your level – offering to sell it to you early for an IAP fee – as a way to constantly harass the player at each and every step of the way, there is no method to IAP buy things early in Keri Racing that you aren’t yet a high enough level for. While you can buy structures in Keri Racing for IAP feathers – instead of using the in game gold – I quickly discovered that I didn’t have enough food on hand to ever run the building I had acquired early, at least not until I was a high enough level to get another farm field and by then I could have afforded the building naturally sans the IAP currency. It seems that the only thing in Keri Racing that a person can’t do without IAP currency is eventually upgrade the status of their own house, but thrifty players can save up for this by never wasting the free feathers they get each and every time they level up (which actually happens fairly often).
The other component of Keri Racing is the portion of the package that feels a lot like a Chocobo racing mini game from the Final Fantasy series, and plays about as nuanced as one of them too (in other words: not very complex). You essentially only ever do two things during these races: tap the whip icon when it recharges to speed your bird up, and tap the screen to make your bird leap/head butt its way through various oncoming obstacles (curiously, the system only registers the tap when you release the screen). Successfully avoiding all the obstacles on the track – as well as judiciously choosing when to activate your whip – will see you to victory over your opposition, having a higher level bird helps too. This portion of Keri Racing can either be done 1-Vs-1 against a computer controlled outlaw opponent, or against three of your friends through either the internet or local wireless (should you all be nearby).
The major problem that looms over everything in Keri Racing is that the game lacks pretty much any self documentation what-so-ever, to the point where some things in the game – particularly any of the multiplayer components – become unnecessarily hard to accomplish. It took a degree of trial and error before my friends and I could figure out how to buddy each other so that we could try out the game’s multiplayer racing feature (you can only race against people you know). In the end it turned out that before you could buddy each other you have to first register a free account with Pmang, and to do that – which is not explained in the slightest at any point during the game – you have the click the P icon in the upper left of Keri Racing’s title screen. How you actually go about setting up a multiplayer race afterwards is equally obtuse, and can only be done if you have three other people – all of whom you are buddied with – online all at the same time.
Even after you manage to navigate through the game’s poorly explained multiplayer features, there is still another problem plaguing Keri Racing that you won’t be getting a reprieve from (at least not unless they update the game): crashing. Keri Racing has a rather aggressive rate of sudden and random system crashes, most often seeming to occur either when trying to go to a different area or when trying to enter your bird into a race. While the crashes themselves thankfully do not result in a loss of progress when they occur, the rate at which they transpire is more than enough to be substantially frustrating all on their own.
iFanzine Verdict: As far as being a completely free mixture of FarmVille meets Chocobo racing – with a non-exploitative IAP system – goes, Keri Racing is not a bad game (you could certainly find far more evil offerings when looking for free apps). The chief problem currently holding this game back is that its extensive lack of self documentation on how the online component works, plus the fact that starting a multiplayer race requires three other people you actively know, makes Player-Vs-Player in Keri Racing not simple to set up and essentially crippled for anyone who can’t get their friends to also to install the app. Add in a far more than healthy helping of random and frustrating crashes, and you have a game that – while not evil – is also unfortunately not one of the best free apps you could currently find either.