About three years ago (or so) we reviewed an enjoyable little tile-laying game called Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. It had a fun theme and great visuals, prompting reviewer Jeff to give it 4 Stars. Recently, the developers at Dire Wolf Digital have taken this tabletop game and brought it to our tablets. Having been providing a review code, I’ve played more than a few games of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival on my iPad and can now dive into how well it made the jump to 0s and 1s.
Gameplay in Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is very easy to pick up. Each turn will have you placing lantern tiles into the lake, earning matching color lanterns for you and your opponents (depending on which color is facing you). You can use these lanterns on future turns to trade them in for victory points (in sets). There are a few other wrinkles, like gaining extra lanterns for matching colors or getting honor tokens from platform tiles. But that’s the main crux of the game. Place tiles, collect lanterns, trade for points.
Digital Game Experience:
I own and have played the tabletop version of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival many times and have always thought it would make a good tablet game. It’s light enough that it would work perfectly for a quick digital distraction while on the go. The game offers both solo vs AI (three levels) and multiplayer vs friends or ranked match. All the modes worked fine in our tests with no issues.
Having previously reviewed a Dire Wolf Digital offering (Lotus), there were a few similarities here that carry over (for the better). The challenges, a great touch in Lotus, offer small goals for the players to try to achieve during their games. These range from trying to collect 5 red lanterns to making 4 dedications in a game.
One great surprise in this app was the free inclusion of The Emperor’s Gifts expansion. Most digital board games are happy to charge you a few bucks to get an expansion, so it was awesome to see Dire Wolf Digital providing this extra content at no additional charge. And since the expansion helps add a bit more variety and depth to the game, this was a welcome move and really helps to give the app some extra reply value.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival also includes a guided tutorial for both the base game and the expansion. Frankly, I consider this kind of tutorial a must in any digital board game app, so I was glad for the easy rules refresher. There is also a rules section should you need clarifications.
While I think the Lanterns app is very well made, there are a few minor quibbles I had with it. First, there is no way to speed up the animations. When playing a 4 player game vs the AI, turns felt a bit slow to me. I’d love to speed things up when I’m not too interested in the glitter. My other issue was the lack of any pinch and zoom feature. I know that one isn’t wholly necessary, but I found myself wanting to zoom in on areas of the board just for the fun of it because it’s such beautiful game.
Finally, I thought that the sound and music was very well done. The music has a wind chime/Asian feel to it that fits quite well. And the tiles make an incredibly satisfying “splash” noise when you play them to the lake. It’s the little things in life.
Overall I found that this digital version of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival was very well done. Beautiful visuals, smooth gameplay, and excellent sound round out a game that was a win in my book. While the gameplay itself isn’t going to keep you glued to your screen for hours on end, it’s light enough to work well for a quick diversion. The Lanterns app works on both iPads and iPhones and I had no issues playing on the smaller screen. If you are a fan of the tabletop game, or just looking for a light game to play on the go, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is worth checking out.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A great translation of a gateway tile-laying game that works great for when you are on the go.
• No way to speed up the animations