Earlier this month Chipotle Mexican Grill kicked off a cross-media marketing campaign with “The Scarecrow,” an animated short film that serves to reiterate the chain’s opposition to Big Agriculture. Even though Chipotle has more than 1,400 locations across North America and Europe, it has long been a champion of concepts like “food with integrity” and “reasonably raised” meat. “The Scarecrow” went viral nearly overnight, largely due to its high production quality and sympathetic narrative.
Chipotle Scarecrow is a free iOS game that marks the second part of this campaign. Like the short film, the game takes place in the dystopian city of Plenty and stars The Scarecrow, a dejected food-factory worker employed by Crow Foods. The Scarecrow, having slowly come to understand the unsustainable nature of Crow Foods’ industrial farming methods, has taken it upon himself to show the citizens of Plenty what healthy eating looks like. Here’s where the player comes in.
Chipotle Scarecrow is, for better or for worse, an exclusively tilt-controlled experience. The chief objective of the game is to smuggle animals and ingredients away from Crow Foods in order to save them from improper treatment, all the while tilting your device to control The Scarecrow. Although some iOS users may enjoy this mechanic, it’s not a particularly precise or responsive one, especially when tilt-control is the only type of control. Out of four unique stages within the game, only two are actually functional. The other two are possible to beat, but require more luck than skill due to the relative inaccuracy of the gyroscope/accelerometer combo.
In this particular case, having only four unique stages essentially amounts to repetition. Like many mobile games, Chipotle Scarecrow features a star-trophy advancement system. Unlike the most successful of these games, however, replaying levels doesn’t act as bonus gameplay but as required gameplay. Each level must be completed five times, with a slightly increasing degree of difficulty each time. This gets frustrating fast when forced to work with the game’s hit-or-miss tilt-controls.
For all its faults, Chipotle Scarecrow is genuine at heart. Whether for principle or profit, it’s evident that Chipotle has set out to make a statement against industrialized food practices, and many aspects of this game can be seen as educational. Sadly, the lessons it teaches—and the play it offers—are probably better suited for kids than adults. Ultimately this iOS title misses the mark of both audience and quality that the rest of the marketing campaign has set.
Publisher: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Release Date: 09/12/13