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  • svgAug 29, 2023Reviews

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    Blue Gravity was kind enough to provide a copy of Little Sim World for me to play!

    I received a pre-alpha demo version of Little Sim World to play, which means I got an early view of a game that is growing bigger and better nearly weekly. What I saw, however, was already incredibly promising.

    What Is It?

    Little Sim World is an adorable life sim that draws inspiration from popular games like The Sims, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Pokemon. You are in charge of your very own little cartoon-looking sim person. Start the game by creating one using a number of customization options (with more to come later!), like hairstyles and color, clothing, and facial attributes. Then, pick out different personality traits like favorite foods and quirks. After that, you’re released into the world of London and set in front of your very dingy new home. 

    Really dingy. Your fence is broken in spots and the paint is flaking. The front door and windows have seen better days. The appliances in the kitchen are dirty and barely fit to use. At least the furniture looks worn, but comfortable and cozy. Your computer, however, looks like the old dinosaurs from way back when that ran Windows ‘95. 

    Worry not, though! You receive a meager paycheck from unemployment benefits that you can use to survive and maybe even fix up your new home. Or, you can hop on that ancient computer of yours and search for a new job! Pick from one of five career paths like athlete, culinary, science, journalist, or painter. Detective is also listed, but either isn’t available yet, or I haven’t reached an appropriate milestone to unlock it. Either way, you’ll Start with basic jobs like professional fan, dishwasher, lab cleaner, greeting card wordsmith, and brush washer. As you level up in skills and traits, you’ll be able to earn promotions that will get your better pay. Better pay means better food, clothes, and house decorations!

    The City

    There isn’t too much to the city just yet, but it’s beautifully drawn and animated. There aren’t any transition screens, either, so moving from one activity or building to another is smooth making it feel like a big open world for you to explore. No waiting on a silly dark screen with a loading bar!

    You’ll find several useful stores spread throughout London. Buy groceries needed to cook and level up your cooking skills with. Or trot on over to Simon’s Pub for some spirits and ready made meals. Get furniture from Futon Furniture and flooring or wallpaper from D&Y. Berry’s Electronics has all your appliance needs, while Banana21 Apparel provides for all your clothing needs!

    Not in the mood for shopping? Head to the gym to get your sweat on. Or go to the library to relax with a good book that’ll level your skills. Perhaps you need to edit your sim’s profile? Pay the Royal Snail a visit and take care of that real quick. The nearby museum is worth a visit, too. You’ll be able to donate items you’ve found to replenish the exhibits, as well as collect stamps for accomplishments. Throw in cars and busses driving around, as well as other people walking along the sidewalks, and London is full of life and things to do!

    Home Design

    The design aspect of Little Sim World is super simple. You buy the elements you want from the shops, like wallpaper from D&Y. Then, while at home, you’ll enter the build menu which is laid out in an easy, intuitive manner. There’s a remove tool to not only remove walls and items, but to get some money back for them. You click the design element you want to work with, like wallpaper, and you can click each individual wall you want papered.

    Or click and drag to cover the whole room. It’s easy to change whole rooms in this manner. Just be sure you have enough money. Buying the design at the shop merely unlocks the use of it. Placing it costs money too!Placing items is just as easy, too. Select the furniture you want to work with and simply click to place it where you want.

    This part of the game is so easy and so simple to learn and do. It was fun designing my sim’s home instead of it being a chore. Switching flooring or rearranging furniture is quick and painless. I can foresee many, many hours spent simply building a fun house.

    Sim’s Needs

    Little Sim World isn’t just all about the fun shopping sprees and exploring, though. Your sim is essentially a real person. They need to eat, drink, and use the toilet. Bathing is essential to a happy and healthy sim, too. Of course entertainment and exercise needs should be looked after as well.

    It’s up to you to fulfill all those needs, and I have to say, that’s a full time job on its own. Maybe it’s because I like to push things instead of balancing my time appropriately, but my sim always feels like it’s starving or needs a shower. Learning to balance my time between working, cooking, having fun, and other needs will take some practice. The challenge is fun, though. It doesn’t feel like a hindrance, but an aspect to rise up to and overcome.

    Final Thoughts

    Little Sim World has quite a few other game elements that aren’t included in this early version. Finding love, traveling the city via car, bus, or underground, even having a roommate if you want to play with a friend. And if they implement those with the same care and effort as they’ve done with the rest of what’s in the demo, it’ll be excellent! One of the planned additions is the ability to choose Identity attributes. You’ll distribute points among attributes like smart, health, charm, courage, energy, and luck. I suspect these will help determine how well your sim does in their romantic relationships, as well as maybe their job, and overall life. 

    There is constantly something to do. Care for the sim’s needs, get them to work on time, and fulfilling tasks are all just what’s available in the demo. Add in romance and whatever exciting new features that are planned for Little Sim World, and it’ll be hard to be bored with the game. 

    As for designing your home and clothing options, the demo has a limited view of each. I imagine Little Sim World will have a much larger variety of everything upon release and I can’t wait. The clothes and design items are already great. I look forward to even more variety for cute or dark aesthetics! 

    I for one cannot wait for the full release of Little Sim World. It’s bound to be an adorably great time.

    Coming Soon!

    This lovely little game is projected to come out in the beginning of 2024! You can find it on Steam now to add it to your Wishlist.

    Want more reviews? Checkout my review for Ooblets or Roots of Pacha!

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  • svgJul 20, 2023Reviews

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    Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is the sequel to Pretty Princess Party, and just as cutesy, magical, and pretty as the other. Only this time, you play as a princess who’s trying to revitalize a once flourishing island. You have full control over designing the island, as well. 

    Raise livestock to receive animal products to use in recipes. Grow crops and flowers. Manufacture other necessary items to craft beautiful dresses, hair styles, makeup, and decorations. Complete requests from visitors to earn money and points that level you up. You’ll unlock new buildings, decorations, and wearables as you level. 

    Decorate and Garden and Decorate Some More!

    Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island looks a lot like Animal Crossing, honestly. You’re on an island that you get to design and decorate. You’re in charge of fixing it up without help, and there’s fruit picking and fishing to be done.  Even the look of the map is Animal Crossing-esque. However, Garden Island successfully set itself apart, I think. 

    There’s mining, farming, even animals to look after, and you have functional craft houses and restaurants that produce different kinds of food. There’s a functional element to the game that gives me a reason to play beyond just decorating. Garden Island’s livestock aren’t needy, they’re simply a building you place, you feed them, then they produce items. Farming is easy, too. You buy seeds, plant them, and wait! There’s a cute little chime that plays when a crop grows to maturity, too. So don’t go into this thinking you’ll have a Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon experience. You won’t. It’s just what ACNH should have done with crops. 

    There is a timer to making items, however. The base time is five minutes, though they can be up to ten minutes. These timers apply to crops, the animals, crafting buildings, and restaurants. When I first encountered this mechanic, I thought it would get annoying fast. That wasn’t the case, though. I found that there’s enough to do around Garden Island that I’d get swept up in something else and not even realize five or ten minutes had passed.

    The best aspect, and probably the main aspect of Garden Island, though, is the decorating. Decorate yourself, change your hair, slap on some makeup and hair bows, then go pretty up the island. It’s almost overwhelming how many incredible options for decorating there are. From pretty and cutesy to gothic, to normal garden and cottagecore styles, you shouldn’t have trouble picking out the perfect pieces to use. The excitement of this is a little offset by the need to craft dyes and other materials to use to buy the decor. However, you can place multiple of one building to have a whole crafting set-up going so it’s really not a huge issue. 

    Final Thoughts

    Despite the minor gripes, I really, really enjoy Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island. It’s fun and simple and forgiving. I can pick it up for a little while to fill some time, or I can marathon it all day. I can create beautiful water themed areas or spooky gothic and Halloween displays. Or, if I’m feeling in the mood, deck the whole place out in bright pinks befitting a pretty princess. The purposeful crafting and fulfilling order really gives me a sense of accomplishment, too. It makes me want to play because I have to earn levels to unlock more stuff, and craft items to get that stuff.

    Overall, I give this one: 

    You can find Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island on Nintendo Switch!

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  • svgJul 6, 2023Reviews

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    It’s no secret: Stardew Valley is my favorite cozy game; it’s possibly my all time favorite. I’m eagerly, and impatiently awaiting the release of Haunted Chocolatier, too. Until then, I’m always on the lookout for the next great farming sim. There are some great ones out there, and many more coming out that have potential. One Lonely Outpost was definitely one I’ve had my eye on for a while. Cozy farming sim where you restore the dying planet to its lush former glory and establish a brand new colony of people? Sign me up! Except, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

    The Good

    You can find One Lonely Outpost on Steam, and it is undoubtedly cute, and getting to restore the planet, while watching the flora and fauna slowly return is heart-warming. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment from rebuilding the world into something liveable for my character and the NPCs. Getting to live on a planet that isn’t just some carbon copy of Earth, but actually feels like a surreal, alien planet is perfect. It immerses you into the story more, and makes the game just different enough, but with familiar elements. 

    What I really enjoyed was that sprinklers unlock early game. I can ramp up my farming almost immediately because of this, and ended up building a sprawling farm. There’s no endless struggling to complete tasks for in-game months while fighting your tiny amount of energy. Plus, it doesn’t feel like an end-game condition or after-thought. I can’t express enough how happy I was to get those sprinklers early. 

    The Bad

    I know I just praised the sprinklers, but I have to also express how clunky they are. You have the sprinkler itself, which only waters crops within a specific radius of the sprinkler head. That’s normal and common in farming games. However, One Lonely Outpost also requires you to have a water pump placed near a water source, which will then provide water for the sprinklers to water crops. Then, you need solar panels to power those pumps. And each item has a specific range, so to cover a wide area, you’ll need multiples of each. Luckily, you can place a water pump by a water source, then place another water pump within the area of the first, and daisy chain the pumps to cover an area. However, if you’re wanting an aesthetic farm plot, it’s going to take some real planning.


    The map is another problem for me. It’s SO low tech. You’re over here crafting food processors, forges, and water pumps from parts, but your map only shows you a broad overview of the One Lonely Planet world. It doesn’t zoom into the specific spot in a region you’re in. It doesn’t have visuals so you can find the paths to other regions. You just have to guess, and really commit the place to memory. Nevermind not having icons for the NPCs, which is fine. Stardew Valley does the same, and that was workable. It just feels a little silly that we’re building a brand new colony with solar panels and cooking stations we’ve crafted, but the map is basically useless.

    The Ugly

    Fishing is usually my least liked activity in farming sims, because they’re often just annoying. Stardew Valley, for example, has got to be my least favorite fishing activity. It gets easier with practice and new items, but it’s often the skill I ignore when I play. However, the fishing mechanic in One Lonely Outpost is perhaps worse than that. You get this cool little fishing drone that you release into a body of water, which initiates a minigame. 

    You control the drone by moving left or right, and dashing forward to catch a fish. Then, you play a little minigame where you click when the indicator is inside a tiny bar that moves. Sometimes it’s fast, and sometimes you do this up to three times, and this is what determines if you catch the fish. Unfortunately, the drone maneuverability is not on par with the fish. It’s slow and cumbersome, while the fish are swift and swim away if you approach too close. You also need to resurface before the battery runs out, or you lose your drone, forcing you to buy a new one or make a new one. They’re not that cheap, either. 

    You can buy drones and other items from Linny. Except, Linny is the new Marnie. I think I successfully caught her in her shop twice, maybe three times since she moved to the planet. I imagine she has a specific schedule I just wasn’t able to suss out, but it sure did make buying necessary items from her unduly difficult. 

    What really bothered me was the glitching. Most of the time, using my bug catching drone bugged the whole game. When it’s out, it shows an area on the round so you can see if you’re close enough to catch a bug. If I had the drone out and walked to a new region, that area disappeared and I just had to guess. Then, it morphed into only showing up when in one specific region. This issue also caused the areas shown for sprinklers, water pumps, and solar panels. So, I struggled to rearrange my farm unless I did it first thing when turning on the game and before I ever used my bug catching drone. 

    Final Thoughts

    It has potential, and some of my complaints are more personal preference than a problem with the game. However, there were enough problems that I just didn’t vibe with the game. One Lonely Outpost is in Early Access, though, so there is hope that it has the wrinkles ironed out and it improves. I truly hope it does, too, because I enjoyed the atmosphere of it. Until then, I rate it:

    You can check out some of my other reviews, too! Roots of Pacha, DREDGE, and Ooblets are all great cozy games I’d recommend!

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  • svgJun 21, 2023Reviews

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    Aside from the sales Steam puts on throughout the year, Next Fest is probably one of my favorite times of the year. Steam Next Fest happens three times a year and is often the first time a demo is available for a game. Plus, it’s always chock full of various demos to grab, and this round has been no different. I think I downloaded over 20 different demos! I won’t bore you with all of them, though. Instead, here are my top five favorite demos I played.

    Moving In

    Moving In is a cozy, relaxing interior design game. You’ve just moved to a new house, all of your belongings are out front by the moving truck, and now you get to take them inside to arrange them however you wish. Arrange the bedroom to make it comfy and perfect for sleeping. Decorate the living room to be as inviting as you can. Even load your groceries into the fridge! With item locking, surface snapping, item rotation, and a variety of decor items, Moving In offers a place where you can let your creativity flow. And, with no challenges to complete, no specific goals to meet, and no timers to compete against, it is the perfect game for just hanging out and decorating a home.

    I enjoyed the simplicity of Moving In. You pick up an item, you put it where you want. Maybe rotate it some to get a better angle, but that’s it. You’re not pigeonholed into placing things in a specific way to meet a goal. You aren’t rushing to do it as fast as possible. You just get to decorate and relax. Even the color palette is pleasing. It’s not too dark or too bright. Everything works together to make a beautiful game.

    Heading 2: Everafter Falls

    Everafter Falls is a humorous little farming and life sim where you awaken in a new town. You’re surrounded by anthropomorphic animals, who explain to you that the past life you remember was all a simulation. You’ve supposedly been here before, but you have no memory of the place. That’s ok, though. Your neighbors are more than welcoming, and patiently explain things to you, including how to restart your farm!

    With the help of your pet, till the earth, plant some seeds, water them, and eventually you’ll have crops to sell. You’ll even be able to employ the help of drones to automate your farm, too, so you can adventure through the dungeons with no worries about your farm. Of course, you’ll be able to fish for a variety of fish, which you can donate to the aquarium to revitalize it. Or, go forage for a number of different items to use. Maybe complete some quests while you’re at it, too. 

    I found Everafter Falls to be just gorgeous and adorable all at once, but what really drew me in was the humor. It immediately throws out hilarious dialogue and cements the animal townspeople are quirky and entertaining. It helps set it apart from other farm and life sims. Of course, the beautiful scenery and cute villager designs help set it apart too. Having a demo is a great way for people to decide if they like the game and will buy it, but not all demos achieve greatness. Heck, I played some that left me bewildered and unimpressed. However, Everafter Falls quickly made its way to my Wishlist with its refreshing characters, but familiar gameplay. I’m always chasing that cozy farm sim feel that Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley left me with. 

    Little Kitty, Big City

    Little Kitty, Big City is about a little black cat who gets lost in the big Japanese city it lives in, and they’re trying to get back home. You play as this adorable kitty as it explores the charming neighborhood alleyways and the bustling thoroughfares of their city, all while trying to make it back home. Befriend other animals and complete quests for them. Nuzzle up to strangers or even trip them and steal their phone! Hunt down cute little hats to wear, and knock over people’s potted plants. Cause chaos or simply find your way home, the choice is yours.

    I have been impatiently waiting for this game for a while now. Unfortunately, it’s not set to release until 2024, but I’m so excited that a demo has released for Steam Next Fest. And it was awesome. Wandering around the streets between homes, finding vending machines and a busy walkway full of business people was all very nostalgic. It is exactly how I remembered many areas of Japan when I lived there. Nevermind that this game gives Untitled Goose Game vibes, but you’re a mischievous little kitty. I had an absolute blast with this demo.

    Paleo Pines

    Next up on my Steam Next Fest list is Paleo Pines, another game I’ve been anticipating for a long while now. You’ve recently moved to a charming little island called Paleo Pines, where you find a small town alongside herds of friendly little dinosaurs. Of course, you’re not unfamiliar to people living alongside dinos. You have Lucky, your trusty parasaurolophus. With Lucky at your side, you’ll not only revitalize your rundown farm, turning it into a lush dino paradise, but you’ll explore the island and uncover the mysteries of Paleo Pines. Make friends with the quirky townspeople, as well as the friendly wild dinos, while you’re at it. Each dino has a skill that can be helpful to you on your farm.

    Paleo Pines seems to be all I’d hoped for. It’s adorable, it’s beautiful, and there are friendly dinosaurs, who have a function beyond just getting to look at them! I absolutely adored this demo, and getting to see a hint of what’s to come. The island has some breathtaking views and easy gameplay, making for a perfectly cozy, relaxing play through.

    Sticky Business

    Sticky Business is the perfect opportunity to run a sticker business without the pitfalls of running your own real business. And it has the added intrigue of character stories! In this game, you get to design different stickers from thousands of design elements, including sparkles and holo effects. Set a specific niche for yourself, or go wild and sell all kinds of different types. Each sticker attracts all kinds of different customers, and each of those customers have their own stories and backgrounds to discover. Once you’ve designed your stickers, print them out, and lovingly pack them up for each order. Listen to your customer’s story as you choose the perfect paper and filling to keep the stickers safe in the mail. 

    The demo for this game was wonderful. It’s calming, relaxing, and has an easy to use interface. Designing stickers was as easy as dragging and dropping elements onto the design area. Even packing orders wasn’t stressful. You see how many of each sticker you have, how many stickers an order wants, then get to choose from several different paper colors, as well as filling options. I’d love to get the full game so I can see the upgrades you can buy, and what goodies there are to add to each box!

    Want To Give Them a Try?

    This round of Steam Next Fest is currently going on, and will be until June 26th. Head on over to Steam to grab the demos for these games, and so many more. And while you’re at it, add your favorites to your Wishlist to get notifications for them.

    And of course, if you’re looking for even more cute games, checkout Pixelshire, Dinkum, or even Coral Island.

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  • svgJun 14, 2023Reviews

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    Welcome to Everdream Valley, an inviting and cozy little piece of the world where your grandparents have a farm. Unfortunately, Grandma and Grandpa went on vacation for a while, and the farm has fallen into disrepair. They need help restoring the farm, and your parents have volunteered you! You’ll get to spend the whole summer with your grandparents, restore the farm, take care of adorable animals, and experience the magic that comes out at night!

    An Abundance of Animals

    I’m not sure I’ve played a game with quite so many animal options. Stardew Valley has a handful of the barnyard staples, Wylde Flowers has recently added more options, and so on. Everdream Valley, though, has a heavy focus on the animals, and I love it. There are pigs, cows, chickens, horses, ducks, deer, geese, alpacas, sheep, bees, wild boar, magpies, beavers, frogs, beetles, butterflies, mice, snails, and different kinds of fish. Nevermind the different variations of the farm animals. Each one has several different breeds, which makes for a colorful barnyard. Nevermind that they’re round, and you can pet them. You’ll even get to choose from a variety of dog breeds, and have a cute little kitty running around

    At the time I played this beautiful game, the only way to get new animals was by visiting the merchant, then pet them to make them follow you, and run to the farm. Chickens you can carry, thankfully, as petting only makes them follow you for a whole 20 seconds.

    Pair the 20 second time with the fact that they’re essentially feral unless they’re on your farm with their wooden sign. So they run if the 20 seconds is up, and you need to chase them to pet them again. This mechanic made some of the quests where you fetch critters, well, annoying.  However, the Everdream Valley team listened to the constructive criticism and introduced a magic flute that makes animal following SO much easier. Play the flute and they’ll follow. Play the flute again and they stop following. 

    The Map

    The map is HUGE… and lifeless. There are quite a few areas to run around and discover new animals, useful items to grab, and bushes and trees to take back to your orchard. From a beautiful forest, to lush fields, and winding rivers, Everdream Valley has a beautiful atmosphere, but the map is almost too big. You can’t walk through the rivers (which look more like shallow streams), so you’re stuck using a single bridge to access each area past the farm. Unfortunately, the bridges are usually not in a convenient position, so trekking across the map is a time-consuming undertaking. It is nice to just wander around and take in the beauty of nature, though.

    That said, things feel a little empty, too. There’s you, Grandma, Grandpa, and the merchant at the farm. That’s all you have to interact with, besides the animals. It makes for a lonely experience, though it does allow you to focus on farming and quests instead of running around to build relationships with people. So, maybe it’s more of a nice little break from the norm.

    The Minigames

    Every night you dream of a talking scarecrow who shows up with a handy roulette wheel. Spin the wheel to see where your dreams take you. Perhaps you’ll be a duck fighting to get her ducklings in a row, or a goat jumping across an obstacle course, or even your trusty dog defending the farm from thieving wolves.

    The way these minigames are used make for an interesting change from the usual. What minigame you play will be different night to night (unless you have bad luck like me), and you can even skip them altogether. You forfeit any rewards you would have gotten from them, but I really enjoy having the option to just not do the minigame when I’m not feeling like completing them. Some of them are a little annoying, too

    I’ll admit I’m not the most dexterous gamer, so maybe it’s on me, but I felt like the goat minigame was difficult when simply walking knocked over obstacles, which reset the game. Or the magpie game was difficult to maintain an appropriate flying height without crashing to the ground. My biggest complaint is the wolves not only stealing your sheep if you don’t chase them off in the dream, but they break SO many fences. I dreaded spinning that minigame, but much like the addition of the magic flute, the Everdream Valley team listened and added a mode that made the wolves a lot more lenient. 

    Final Thoughts

    I know I brought up a few issues I had with the game, but overall the game is nice. There’s no pressure to complete quests as soon as possible. Run around and explore, farm, and decorate your treehouse whenever you wish, and complete those quests as you feel like it. And we can’t forget Grandma and Grandpa. Aside from giving out quests, they’re not just there for random conversation. Every morning Grandpa actually gives you crops and animal products they’ve collected, which you’ll need to sell to earn money to buy more animals.

    What’s really great about this game is their development team. It’s not a perfect game, but instead of ignoring player feedback, the devs accept it graciously, then actually implement changes. From the magic flute for easier animal following, to the more lenient dream wolves option, Everdream Valley has seen quite a few excellent quality of life changes in their recent update. There’s now object rotation to make decorating easier and better. You can now turn off animal breeding, too, if you’re being overrun by babies.  And for those of us who get motion sick, a crosshair has been added to give us a visual anchor for smoother, more enjoyable gameplay.

    There’s a LOT of great work going into this game, it seems, and I’m excited to see what new features get added.

    Overall, I’d give Everdream Valley

    You can find Everdream Valley on Steam and PlayStation, with an upcoming release on Nintendo Switch.

    Want more reviews? Check out this Roots of Pacha review, as well as this one on Ooblets.

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  • svgMay 4, 2023Reviews

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    Thanks to Crytivo for a chance to play this game!

    Roots of Pacha is an absolutely adorable farming and life simulation game by developer Soda Den and publisher Crytivo. Players get to customize their very own character and be a member of a thriving stone age community. Discover ideas to improve the village, grow and harvest crops from seeds you find in the wild, befriend a variety of cute animals, get to know your fellow tribes mates, and much more.

    Build Useful Tools and Meaningful Relationships

    There’s no doubt that Stardew Valley really rocketed the farming and life sim genre into the limelight, though we can’t forget Harvest Moon in that either. There’s nothing more relaxing than taking control of your life and just farming the days away, after all. Following the success of both games, it’s only natural that more and more farm and life sims popped up to fulfill the desires of players, and not all are made equal. Then there’s the charming Roots of Pacha.

    Set in a stone age where technology is rudimentary, you get to explore new ideas and invent new tools with the help of your fellow villagers. Discover the “solar dryer” for drying meats, fruits, and veggies, as well as the “smoker” to cook fish and meats. Or simply go to the kitchen and whip up a tasty salad or flavorful soup.

    Of course, you get to befriend your fellow tribe mates, as well as romance some of the men and women. Deliver different gifts to discover each person’s likes and dislikes. Increase your relationship levels to unlock cute cut scenes, as well as the ability to dance with others as a sign of friendship. It’s a wholesome system of interactions with a cast of characters featuring a variety of personalities and quirks. 

    Farming, Animal Husbandry, and Fishing

    What I truly enjoy about Roots of Pacha is the farming and the animal husbandry. Your grandfather shows you how to farm, then leaves it all to you. It’s your job to explore to collect seasonal seeds from wild crops. Those seeds can then be planted and eventually harvested. What I find really fun is that the whole thing is a blank slate. In Stardew Valley, the time it takes for a crop to grow is readily displayed, but here you don’t know. Each time you harvest a crop, your knowledge level about that crop increases, unlocking information like how long a crop grows. It adds a really fun bit of discovery to the game.

    As for animals, you also find those in the wild while exploring. Using your flute, you play a short rhythm mini game to build a friendship with the animal. It takes a few days to tame an animal, but once you do, you can invite them to live in an animal hut in the village. Some animals are strictly pets and can live in your hut with you. The animals who live in the animal huts can produce various products like milk, eggs, and fur that can be used in food recipes or crafting items.

    Roots of Pacha also has fishing, and I thoroughly enjoy it. Instead of trying to line up a bar with a a fish, you hover over the shadows of fish. Wait as the bar fills up and turns into “Catch now!” to successfully catch a fish. You can attempt to catch before that message appears, but risk losing the fish to your hastiness. This mini game allows for a relaxing fishing experience, I think, and I much prefer it to  other fishing systems.

    Final Thoughts

    I don’t want to spoil everything as it’s worth it to play and discover your own, but Roots of Pacha has so much to offer. It’s not solely on the player to contribute and build up the village, which my be my favorite part. Improvements aren’t strictly on you to make, as it should be! Looking at you, Animal Crossing.

    After certain amounts of Clan Prosperity are reached, villagers will complete beautification projects that really make the village feel alive and lived in. There’s also a cave system to mine in that holds some fun secrets and puzzling mysteries. Being able to decorate your hut and farm are absolutely a plus, too

    Overall, Roots of Pacha takes common farming sim elements that people love, but improves them. Not to mention, there’s multiplayer, so you can play solo or with friends. It’s an adorable game with beautiful scenery and amusing activities. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for another farm and life sim to add to their library.

    I give this game: 

    Roots of Pacha is available on Steam now.

    For more farming sim fun, check out Clouzy, Wylde Flowers, or this list of farm sims for console.

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  • svgApr 27, 2023Reviews

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    Ooblets, a life simulation and creature collection adventure game from developers Glumberland, is an outstandingly adorable game. Players customize their own character and move to the run-down little town of Badgetown. There, you’ll learn all about the cute little creatures called ooblets. These fun and whimsical little creatures come in all shapes and colors, and can even help you on your farm where you’ll grow crops as well as new ooblets! Join an Ooblet Club, have dance battles with other trainers and their ooblets, and complete quests to liven up the town. Also decorate your home, buy new clothes to match your style, open your very own shop, and much more.

    The Ooblets and Dance Battles

    If you’re familiar with Pokemon, then you’ll be familiar with the idea behind collecting Ooblets in all their shapes and colors. Some are rarer than others, of course, and each town and biome you visit will feature their very own types of ooblets. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock more ooblets for each area, too. 

    What really tickles me is the use of trainer battles, but instead of trying to hurt and knock out the other team, you compete in a dance battle. Dance battles involve a deck of cards that have certain abilities on them. The contents of your deck (and your opponent’s) depends on the ooblets you’ve chosen for your team. Each ooblet type has certain abilities, and as they level up, you’ll unlock new abilities and cards. For example, dumbirbs add in a card that lets you add “trepidation” to the opponent’s deck, which is adding useless cards to their deck so they’ll draw blank cards. That makes them unable to gain points, which are needed to win. The first person to the point total (which depends on the size of the group you are battling), wins. 

    Ultimately, it’s a simple little change to the usual creature collection battle style, but it’s wildly successful for a cozy game, in my opinion. The music used is fun and upbeat without being annoying. The dancing animations are adorable. The use of cards to choose moves is creative, too. Plus, when you win, kind words and congratulations are given to the opponent. It’s heartwarming. 

    Aside from the battles, your little ooblet friends are useful on the farm! Build them small Oob Coops, assign them specific jobs, and they’ll help with the farm chores. They can water crops, pick crops, battle weeds, break up rocks, and harvest logs so you can focus on dance battles and quests. Don’t forget to dress them up in the cute ooblet accessories you’ll collect from completing quests. Make them even more adorable than they already are.

    The Overall Game

    Glumberland really nailed it with this game. Aside from the adorable creatures and fun dance battles, the humor is just spot on. Overall, the game is goofy. There’s a wide cast of characters with wildly varying personalities and dialogues. Some are scathing, some sweet, and some just don’t make sense, adding to the silliness of their image. Items have weird names (like the sprinklehot or the dribbly can). People’s names aren’t standard, every-day things either. You’ll meet people like Churles who runs the clothing store, and Rugnolia who’s the local scientist (think Professor Oak). Whatever I’m doing in the game, it usually succeeds in making me giggle at least once here and there at its cute absurdity.

    Ooblets uses a beautifully vibrant color scheme without being painfully bright. Plus, each area features its very own look and introduces a new unique biome into the mix, allowing for some fun exploration. Add in a variety of quests, home renovations, farming, and ooblet dance battles, there’s a lot to do and love in this game.

    Final Thoughts

    I don’t know if I adequately captured the silliness and beauty of Ooblets, but perhaps it’s better to just experience it first-hand. I cannot recommend this game enough. It is adorable. It’s funny. It’s cozy and relaxing, too. Ooblets is a great addition to the farming sim genre, and should be added to your list of games to play

    Ultimately, I give it: 

    Ooblets is available on the Epic Games store, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. There are plans for a Steam release at some point, too.

    Check out Monster Harvest or Palworld for more creature collection fun.

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  • svgApr 12, 2023Reviews

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    DREDGE is a short, but fantastic fishing adventure with some creepy and sinister undercurrents. You play as an unnamed fisherman and captain of your very own fishing trawler. Take your little fishing boat out into the open ocean to fish up over 100 different types of fish. Explore the beautiful, but mysterious archipelago to unearth some mysteries. 

    Conduct research on new parts for your boat. Buy upgraded engines to move faster, purchase new fishing poles and trawl nets to fish better, and collect building materials to make your boat better able to hold more items. Don’t forget to stop by and speak to the residents of the islands. They may have some quests or pieces of knowledge to impart. Someone even wants you to dredge up artifacts from the past, but can you truly trust them? 

    Just don’t get caught on the open sea at night. Nothing good happens at night.

    The Overall Game

    Black Salt Games really did well with the atmosphere and spookiness of DREDGE. The game isn’t meant to be overtly scary, just have hints of eeriness and an underlying sinister feel to it. And it achieves that. 

    The archipelago is plagued with secrets and mysteries. The art is beautiful, but really builds that creepy atmospheric feel. The NPC portraits depict tough, weathered people. Some are craggy and aging, some are youthful, but haggard, proving that life in tiny fishing villages isn’t always easy. 

    The dynamic lighting really helps set the scene, too. The main island, The Marrows, has clear seas and bright, beautiful skies. It lulls you into a false sense of security, but as you adventure around, things aren’t quite so safe. The dark hidey holes of Gale Cliffs hide some interesting fishing prospects, but also something a little more ominous. Stellar Basin with its bioluminescent creatures and white sands looks like a sweet beach getaway. At first. The yellow swampy haze of Twisted Strand hides some haunting mysteries. And Devil’s Spine, an island with volcanic vents and rivers, bathed in a fiery red light, holds an even more grim story. 

    Along with the unnamed nighttime terrors and the mysterious behaviors of the man who tasks you with uncovering the past, it all adds up to achieve that eerie spookiness without being an absolutely terrifying experience.

    It’s a Simple, Easy Game

    There is not a lot to DREDGE. You don’t control a character, there are no 3D NPCs to visit, no walking through villages or across islands. You only control your little fishing trawler while out to sea. When in port, it’s a simple 2D menu-type interaction. Your options for buildings and people are set out in front of you, and you simply scroll and tap the button to choose which option you want. I honestly liked it a lot. It simplified things. Do I need to visit the fishmonger to sell a load of mackerel? Slide over and click. Is a visit to the Shipwright for new fishing poles in order? Scroll and click. No mindless running across town to get to different people because I forgot something. 

    There’s also no over complicated crafting systems or gameplay in DREDGE. You explore the different islands in different biomes, you collect information and quests from the handful of people you come across, you dredge up items from the depths, and you fish! It’s perfect for those days when you don’t want to play something complicated, but want to play something.

    The Fishing

    There are 125 different types of fish to catch in DREDGE, and they all live in different areas. From the shallows of the main island to the deep dark depths of a volcanic island, and even the swamps of a totally different island. There’s no shortage of fish. 

    The fishing system is easy to use, too. The game implements a few different types of catching mini games, but they’re all essentially the same. You click a button to reel in the line when the timing is right and the necessary zones are lined up. That’s it. It can get repetitive, but it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the game, I think.

    Final Thoughts

    DREDGE is the first game for indie studio Black Salt Games, and it’s a good one. It’s a little short and slightly repetitive, but I think it’s worth a playthrough. 

    The spooky factor is just enough that the game feels creepy and a little off, but is pretty low-stakes. I’m a fairly anxious gamer, so it’s perfect for me. Even just hearing the music change in Breath of the Wild as a Guardian sees me is enough to get me anxious! It’s really why I like to mostly stick to the cozy games. Plus, the fishing is easy to do. There’s no fighting to match the bobber with the fish like in Stardew Valley. It can be repetitive, but it’s a fishing system I enjoy much more. 

    I also wish there was a little more to DREDGE. It has so many upgrades for you to get, but there’s really no use for a large portion of them. I want a reason to need those upgrades, other than personal satisfaction. 

    Ultimately, I give it:

    You can find DREDGE on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, and Xbox.

    For more fishing, check out Luna’s Fishing Garden, and for something slightly spooky, check out Critter Crops.

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