Kids get some guidance to keep them on track in this multitasking-based game -- but gameplay slows down significantly, unless you spend real-world money. Kids have a considerable amount of things to do to get the town in Riverside: Farm Village up and running, including constructing new homes, repairing existing buildings, and adding factories. As the app's name suggests, farming is also involved, and -- like many of the tasks -- often requires more than one step to complete. Kids choose which crops to plant in fields, and then harvest them once they've finished growing. Fruit trees will periodically need to be harvested -- but there's a twist: The trees can only survive a few growing periods and then need to be replaced. Some tasks can't be performed until kids have completed previous actions to earn items. Fulfilling orders residents have placed earns coins, which fund building additions and other enhancements, and two types of stars -- blue, which let kids move to the next level once a certain amount has accumulated, and yellow, which they need to perform storyline actions. But that process is more complex than necessary, with some features remaining completely unexplained.
The gameplay progresses pretty smoothly at first, with large blue arrows pointing out where kids should click to help them figure out what to do. Things get a little more confusing, though, before long, as the cost to speed things up increases, and the currency required to do that is doled out sparingly. To fill orders and earn them, you need to have the required goods, dependent on processes like growing crops. Without dollars to speed this up, you have to either wait it out or buy a package of in-app currency, which can be costly. There are also other pushes to buy things. Ads pop up occasionally with offers, and you're taken to a screen at one point that offers access to an extended storyline. Kids will also see plugs for a gold pass they can buy. The fun factor drops when you find yourself having to spend actual money to play -- or sit around and wait for things to be completed, which can take awhile. Some interesting elements have been woven into the storyline -- including efforts to clean up a polluted river and recycle, which could help kids learn about some environmental issues. However, because they're forced to take a more passive role fairly early in the game, unless they're able to shell out some cash, they may not get far enough in Riverside: Farm Village to find out about its ecological and other plot points.