Review – Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition (Xbox One)

I feel the need, right at the very top, to defend the existence of Shaun the Sheep. I understand that, for some people who are Wallace and Gromit purists, the very existence of Shaun and his very simple, nonsense-driven animation makes them apoplectic with rage. These people have entirely too much time on their hands and cannot appreciate that, sometimes, a claymation sheep doing silly things is all you need to get through the day.

Nor do I think that it’s wrong that a game was created to promote the Farmageddon movie. After all, movie tie-in games are the bread and butter of the marketing to children world, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a film that involved aliens abducting a group of sheep and then the sheep wreaking havoc. It’s fantastic that a simple Flash game called Home Sheep Home got enough attention to first become an official Shaun the Sheep game, and then explode with levels and additional content to add multiplayer and extra level packs based on the movie. Let’s be honest, being a developer and getting hand picked to tie your design to a massive IP is a dream come true.

The issue, and I use this term lightly, is that I’m staring at my copy of Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition, which I’m playing on my XBox One, and realizing it hasn’t even been released yet. It’s slated to drop on the XBox Marketplace in a few days, and I’m almost screaming the question over and over again in my head: WHY? This is a question that’s going to resonate, like a distant bell chime that shatters glass a hundred kilometers away, throughout the entirety of my review. Simply put, I cannot find a real answer, and I hope, through self-reflection, I can figure one out.

Home Sheep Home selfies

Oh, for the Sheep Selfies. Well then, nevermind, I got this.

Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition is the extension of a puzzle game in which you have multiple levels to get three sheep across a room and over a goal line. One sheep can jump high, one is small and can fit into tiny spaces, and one is fat and can push things (but so can the first sheep). You have to control the sheep each in turn, working their unique “talents” together until you can either open a door or secure a path and everyone gets to safety. Because every single damn puzzle game is secretly Angry Birds deep down, you get a one to three star rating based on speed and also you can collect hidden dohickeys to either improve your invisible score or to unlock further levels.

There’s also the whole Party Edition section of the game wherein you can do a variety of traditional mini games, like volleyball, soccer, and more atypical ones, like “outrun the massive bale of hay” or “don’t die.” I’ll be wildly honest, I skipped the minigames because my kids couldn’t be bothered and, despite liking Shaun the Sheep, wanted to play something else after watching me play a bit, and I don’t entirely blame them. If you already have the games and literally have nothing else to do, they’re perfectly fine and probably a bit of fun after a pint. But, if you’re like me and steadfast on not letting your ten year old start hitting the hooch again, then you’re all left high and dry.

Home Sheep Home results

Two socks, three stars. I am living my BEST life.

I will say, in a rare moment of clarity, that you really get a decent value for the asking price of Home Sheep Home. There’s a good number of levels, there’s plenty to unlock, and the mini games have theoretical replay value if you happen to carry multiple XBox controllers and have companions who don’t want to do any of the other plethora of party adjacent titles available. It’s not unreasonable, and I think that was very fair of Greenlight Games when I’ve seen promotional crap go for thirty to fifty dollars.

The main game itself is pleasant and quaint in that “I’m playing a Flash game on my three hundred dollar console” kind of way. The graphics are fluffy and cute, and there’s nothing offensive about any of it. You have three sheep, they’re all cute, and they get into a good mix of hijinks that you then need to get them out of. Getting off the farm, moving through traffic, getting out of a spaceship, actually using Mario Galaxy physics to reach a goal point…it’s decent, it truly is. Once you figure out “move and jump,” you don’t have anything else to figure out.

Home Sheep Home hints

The hints waffle between helpful and implying you’re the reason that toys get recalled.

The levels do compound a learning curve for the particular set of stages you’re in, which I think is worth mentioning in terms of connectivity and fluidity. If you play a couple of levels in Lost On the Farm, it gives you a good sense of spatial manipulation that doesn’t apply to Lost Underground. Likewise, the few notes you get from Lost in London at the very top are ones you need to keep in mind for the remainder of your jaunt in said episode: pitfalls abound, hidden hazards are a constant issue, and the tiny sheep is invaluable. The cohesion is important and helps to shape each episode into a sort of miniature experience unto itself, which could have been trampled in the rush to simply get this out.

Yet players don’t need to worry about a massive learning curve in any of this ordeal. Home Sheep Home makes it clear the objective of “get sheep to the other side” is a universal constant and players are under no pressure to do it quickly. You can, if you want to get those precious three star results,  but there’s no benefit from achieving it in a good amount of time other than self satisfaction. In fact, slower is the way to ensure you find all the hidden goodies and unlock additional levels, which leads to more sheep, more pleasantly blasé sounds, and more limited meandering with purposeless purpose. You sheep because you must.

Home Sheep Home probes

The alien overlords coming to probe ewe is a nice change in pace.

That, sadly, is about it, and I feel almost terrible about Home Sheep Home and how I feel. There’s a silly little game here that’s okay, but it’s not great. It’s easy enough but kids will need help after just a bit. It’s got minigames but they’re fairly repetitive (how much do you need to ride on your friend’s back to avoid being crushed?). The fact that I kept getting diamond achievements on my game, something that I’ve never done in the history of XBox-ing, tells me that this game isn’t getting the fairest of shakes from reviewers, but I also understand that completionism isn’t a prerequisite for reviewing a game. If it was, we wouldn’t be seeing Tears of the Kingdom reviews until June at the earliest, and I think we still wouldn’t have one for Persona 5.

I just can’t figure out the logic, and I’m terrified this will be my John Nash trigger moment.  Why is a game, promoting a 2019 film, that sells for less than ten dollars, being released on the XBox today?  It’s okay, but it’s not something I’ve seen anyone clamoring for in any capacity, and I did a decent dive on the Shaun the Sheep boards. It’s just a cute game, and if you’re telling me enough dads with Halo nostalgia purchased enough XBoxes for kids who inexplicably ONLY want Home Sheep Home and nothing else, you’ve proven both the existence of parallel universes and that some universes don’t deserve to exist.

Home Sheep Home

We hope…that you choke….

If this is your jam and you have been waiting, you’re a truly fascinating individual and I’m glad you can get this title for less than a movie ticket. Enjoy it, unlock all the hidden achievements, have fun because it’s a cute and simple game. For everyone else… I don’t know what to tell you. I’m at the point where I don’t know how I got here and I need to call an adult. The sheep made me do it.

Graphics: 5.0

Sheep are cute, level design is good, objects have distinction, but nothing about this has the same charm or appeal as the claymation.

Gameplay: 5.0

Sheep moves. Sheep pushes something. Other sheep jumps. Third sheep moves as well. I drink a juice box worth of sake and wonder if this is truly existence.

Sound: 5.0

Light, fluffy ambience in terms of errants “baa” sounds, small atmospheric notes and my own sobs as I question if my father ever really knew what it meant to play catch.

Fun Factor: 4.0

There’s just nothing there. It’s okay, and the party games are decent, but nothing jumps out of this collection to make me say “I will definitely stop playing another game to help that sheep move shit around.”

Final Verdict: 5

Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4/5, and Xbox One X/S.

Reviewed on XBox One X.

A copy of Home Sheep Home: Farmageddon Party Edition was provided by the publisher.