I had no idea what I was getting into as I loaded up Clouds & Sheep 2 for the first time. For one, I hadn’t played Clouds & Sheep 1, and secondly it looked to be a port of a mobile phone game for kids which probably had no business being on the Xbox One. But I like to be fair and not judge a game by its box art, so I put my prejudice aside and dived right in.
You could probably describe Clouds & Sheep 2 as a farming sim mixed with Animal Crossing. The aim of the game is simply to increase your herd of sheep and unlock as many farming locations as possible. I thought I’d just take a quick shot to see what it’s all about but then 10 minutes soon became 2 hours and as it turns out I’ve stumbled upon one of the most addictive games to be released in 2016.
Here’s what I liked:
OMG so cute – With its bright and colourful graphics, Clouds & Sheep 2 is visually adorable but its sweetness doesn’t end there as the gameplay itself is ridiculously cute as well. To grow your farm, players need to collect wood and wool to buy and build new items for their sheep. Seems normal so far. However, players also need to collect happy stars and love hearts as currency too. Happy stars are earned by keeping your sheep happy, and this can be done by playing with them as well as feeding them and keeping them warm or shearing their coats when needed. Then we come to the love hearts which grow from flowers you can plant in your farm. If a sheep happens to eat a flower, they start to feel romantic. If they happen to meet another sheep who is also feeling romantic, a giant love heart is born which you can then either harvest for resources or combine it with a cloud to make a tiny baby lamb and watch your own heart melt into actual goo.
What the flock? – As well as being so cute I could die, Clouds & Sheep 2 is also one of the most surreal experiences to be found on the Xbox One. To keep your herd happy, they want you to pull their tails so hard they roll across the screen and they enjoy being picked up and dropped from great heights. These sheep also like to wear silly hats, bounce on trampolines and eat crazy mushrooms. They even challenge you to strike them with lightning bolts, despite the obvious risk of death, by manipulating the clouds which float past throughout the game. Clouds can also be controlled by the player to form rain clouds, which provide drinking water, and snow clouds which can turn your sheep into snowballs or even snowmen. As bizarre as it is, the game is sheer escapism and the strange humor certainly had me tickled.
Woolly addictive – As I said earlier, Clouds & Sheep 2 is highly addictive. Its simplicity is deceiving with a constant stream of unlocks keeping the game fresh and interesting. Just as you think you’re ready to hang your crook for the day, a new area opens up or Barbara the Sheep comes up with a new challenge for you to tackle. It can also get a bit hectic at times with multiple tasks on the go at once, and if you fail to look after sheep, there are lots of ways they can become ill or even die. I lost a small herd to a harsh winter night after spending my last bits of wood on a sledge to keep Jim the Sheep happy, instead of on a campfire as would have been the sensible option. But at least Jim got his heart’s desire, and I earned a bunch of happy stars for my troubles.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Baaad pacing – As addictive as the game is, there are still some issues with the pacing which can make Clouds & Sheep 2 feel a little repetitive in places. There are times when you’ll get stuck on a certain challenge, often just due to waiting for your resources to build up to the required amounts. But no other challenges appear and during these times it’s often just a matter of throwing your sheep around until they become happy enough to cough up some stars so your can start building or planting again.
Let’s be honest not everyone is going to enjoy Clouds & Sheep 2 but I couldn’t find much wrong with the game either. Its cutesy presentation will put some players off and its concept, in general, is probably best suited to a younger audience, but to be fair, it can get challenging in places with some fast-paced resource management required as the game progresses. The tongue-in-cheek humor is entertaining, and despite being ported from a mobile game, the graphics look great, and the menu systems work efficiently enough for a gamepad. If you’ve got an open mind and some time to kill you could do a lot worse than Clouds & Sheep 2 which smashes everything it sets out to do as a fun little time filler.
Score: Highly Recommended
Clouds & Sheep 2 was developed and published by HandyGames on Xbox One. It was released on November 17, 2016 for $9.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.