The protagonist, Austin, with his cat.
|Release||Apple App store|
Amazon App store
Homescapes is a free-to-play video game released by Playrix in September, 2017. The game is available on MacOS, iOS, Android and Amazon Appstore. Homescapes is a Gardenscapes spin-off and shares the same gameplay concept, combining traditional match-3 mechanics with a storyline. The game’s protagonist is also the same: Austin the Butler.
The story revolves around Austin, who feels homesick and moves back home with his parents, Olivia and William.
He is in for a rude awakening when his parents tell him that they are selling the family mansion, which is in poor condition. They feel that it would be too costly to renovate it, and due to their old age, they are unable to do so. Nevertheless, Austin tries to convince his parents not to sell it, and gladly volunteers to restore his ancestral home (with the help of the player) to its former glory.
As the story progresses, the player (and Austin himself) learn more about Austin's childhood and Olivia and William's younger years.
Homescapes is a match-3 puzzle game, where the core gameplay is based on swapping two adjacent elements to make a row or column of at least three elements. The player can obtain helpful power-ups and activate them by double-tapping them or switching with another element.
|Rocket||clears 1 row or column||match 4 in a straight line|
|Plane||clears 4 surrounding spaces, then 1 additional in another area||match 4 in a square|
|Bomb||clears many surrounding spaces||match 5 in a "T" or "L" arrangement|
|Rainbow Ball||removes all of one type of element||match 5 in a straight line|
The power-ups can also be swapped with one another, resulting in powerful combos.
|2 Rockets||clears 1 row and 1 column|
|2 Bombs||clears a large surrounding area on the board|
|2 Paper Planes||clears a few surrounding spaces, then 3 spaces in different areas|
|2 Rainbow Balls||clears entire board|
|1 Rainbow Ball +
1 Rocket, Plane, or Bomb
|multiplies the swapped power-up, then all copies of the power-up are activated|
|1 Rocket + 1 Bomb||clears 3 rows and 3 columns|
|1 Plane + 1 Rocket or Bomb||clears 4 surrounding spaces, then activates swapped power-up in another area|
To complete levels, the player must achieve the listed goals in the level (e.g. collect a number of certain elements, lay down carpet, remove suds, etc.). In doing so, the player will earn stars to complete tasks around the house and progress further in the game.
The game is free to play with in-app purchases, allowing the player to purchase the in-game, fictional currency with real-world money. Functionally, it works similar to Candy Crush Saga, allowing the player to purchase the ability to retry levels upon failing them. It also includes In-app purchasing and other micro transactions.
There are also "events" throughout the game, where the player can get special rewards (e.g. power-ups, coins, etc.) after completing the event. One of them includes a sub-plot revolving around Austin's cat, who falls in love with a female cat. The player completes special levels to help him meet the cat.
In the first week after its release, Homescapes was downloaded seven million times. By the end of the first month, on October 19, total downloads had reached 28 million. In October, Homescapes was the 4th most downloaded game on iOS worldwide and the 8th most downloaded on Android.
Gamezebo awarded the game a four out of five star rating, generally praising the game, but feeling it was not quite as good as Gardenscapes, concluding "The result is still a wonderful match-3 slash simulation game that scratches all the same itches as Gardenscapes but in an entirely new environment. If you’ve conquered Gardenscapes and are looking for a new version of roughly the same experience, Homescapes is a must-play. But newcomers to the series should stick to Gardenscapes for now, at least until Homescapes catches up to all the updates and enhancements of the original."
Homescapes, along with other games by Playrix have been increasingly coming under criticism on the internet for displaying misleading advertisements that depict gameplay that is false and nothing like the game itself. Several reddit forums are dedicated to this. For instance, many ads for Homescapes depict action gameplay that is completely unlike the app itself. In late-2019 a change.org petition was set up to "Stop false mobile game advertising", that cited Homescapes as a prime example.
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