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  • svgMar 20, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Little Lives, by solo developer Houndstooth Games, is a life sim game set in the town of Littleton. Featuring semi-realistic graphics, you get to customize your own character, including traits, and set out on that journey known as life! Work a job, build friendships, and face unexpected challenges as you play. Climb the corporate ladder, buy your dream home, and much more in this top-down life sim.

    Little Lives has a bustling open-world that you can navigate from the default top-down perspective. Or, hop in your car and drive through the town of Littleton in a captivating 3rd person view. The town has a robust economy and is home to several different shops where all your needs will be met. Find your perfect home from an inventory of rental apartments or homes for sale, then decorate your living space to suit your tastes. Some items even have useful modifiers to improve your skills. Build meaningful relationships with friends or even find someone to romance and marry! Select your ideal furry companion, train your skills, find the perfect job and climb the corporate ladder, and take on hobbies to live the life of your dreams! 

    How will you live your little life?

    Release Date

    You can find Little Lives on Steam now!

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  • svgFeb 29, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Your farm in Peppermint Falls by JellyFrog Games is like no other farm you’ve encountered. You’ll grow blueberry muffins, harvest gummy bears from bushes, and nurture ice cream in the winter seasons. Raise farm animals like cows that produce strawberry milk and collect chocolate eggs from your chickens. The town is small, but cozy, and offers much more to do than just farming, too. Cook delicious meals, experiment with alchemy, go mining for resources, or even fish for some fun aquatic creatures. You can even battle monsters or work in the town’s cafe! Don’t forget to forge relationships with the townspeople, too. Learn their backgrounds and earn some great friendships, or even start a family with someone.

    When you tire of the small town, set out on an adventure to explore the wide world of Peppermint Falls. Your house, which is made of pancakes, can walk, and will ferry you around the different biomes of the world! It’ll accompany you to the furthest corners of the world and patiently wait for you to complete your adventures. It’ll even sprout new rooms from time to time. While exploring, perhaps you can uncover what happened to the original inhabitants. The world used to be ordinary and not covered in confectionary creatures, after all.

    Release Date

    Peppermint Falls is coming to Steam sometime soon. Add it to your Wishlist now!

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  • svgFeb 14, 2024News

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    If you’re unfamiliar with Kynseed, it’s a lovely farming sim that dives deeper and brings more to the table than most farm sims. Run your farm and customize it to your tastes. Run a business of your choice like a blacksmith, apothecary, or general store. Craft items, battle monsters, and get to know the townspeople. Even get married and raise children!

    There is so much to do and experience in this gorgeous game, and now there’s a huge update called “The Big Build Update” that has recently been released. If you already own this game, the developers suggest you restart with a brand new character so you can get the full experience of all the new things.

    The Big Build Update

    The following is the huge list of content this update brings to Kynseed.

    • Customize the look of your farm’s interior and exterior.
    • Buy new farm plots.
    • A certain Fairweather item might also give you a further area to customize
    • New farm structures.
    • Repair structures like bridges to access new areas.
    • Fix statues and stalls to make travel and commerce easier.
    • Repair houses that can be destroyed by the encroaching evil creatures of the land.
    • New Axe and choppable trees for wood collection
    • New Stone resource.
    • Track all your progress through Progress Screen with a picture that fills in as you go.
    • 400+ challenges to complete
    • Items screen gives a breakdown of number found, total collected and the highest rating acquired.
    • Relationship screen tracks all current npcs and your relationship with them.
    • Story/Event keeps a history of parts of the game you have already discovered.
    • Shops give a brief overview of how your shops are doing.
    • Customization catalogue shows you all items you can unlock and what activities will unlock them.
    • New Noticeboard Tasks
    • Talent system means each NPC, including your children, has their own skill which can be used to your benefit.
    • New dialogue
    • New relationship cutscenes
    • The type of an NPC’s like/dislike can now be seen on their info
    • NPCs now travel between levels and have had other AI tweaks.
    • Your previous family can visit from time to time

    Plus so much more! There are bug fixes, some story pacing adjustments, and batch crafting. Unlock proverbs, there’s a star rating for items, and a new instant message system that alerts you to events, tasks, and shop alerts for low stock. And there’s even more than that, which you can go check out on Kynseed’s Steam page!

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  • svgFeb 7, 2024Reviews

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    It’s February already, and that means it’s Steam Next Fest time! I’ve written about past Next Fest demos that I fell in love with here and here. This time, I’m bringing you an even bigger list of cozy games because this Next Fest is packed full of great ones. From interior design games, farming sims, and creature collectors, to gardening and diorama makers, there’s so much to see this time around. So, without further ado, here’s a whopping 10 different Steam Next Fest demos you need to try this month!

    Make Room

    Make Room is a relaxing little diorama designer game. Use hundreds of different items to craft the perfect spaces in each environment. Set up a charming country kitchen, build a comfy reading nook, or design the coziest living room you can think of. You have total control over where items are placed, so you can make your interior design visions come true. 

    The icons in this game are SO small, but the item options and color choices are perfect for creating some great rooms. The sandbox mode is great for strictly creating on your terms. The objectives mode is easy and relaxed, even though you must build to certain specifications. And creating things on a smaller scale makes creating a lot less overwhelming.

    Critter Crops

    Critter Crops is a gorgeously designed game where you play as Sylvie. She’s a newfound witch who’s been run out of her town because of her abilities. As Sylvie, you arrive on Mutter Island where you discover you can grow magical Critter Crops. These special plants can help you restore the island to its former glory. When you’re not farming, explore the lovely little island you now call home, gather resources, mine, and get to know the people you come across.

    What a delightfully whimsical game! The art is very unique, and the crops are too. Raise creatures by growing crops that are very, very different from what you’re used to. The town and crops and creatures are all slightly spooky, which is perfect for the Halloween-loving player who dislikes actual scary things. The color palette and the music is super pleasing, too. Talk about a farm sim with a twist!

    Everholm

    In Everholm, you play as Lilly, a young woman looking for her lost sister, Melanie. While out searching, you come across a mysterious portal that beckons you to the cute and cozy little island of Everholm. Weirdly, everyone there seems to recognize you, too, like you’re an old friend. So, embark on an adventure full of mysteries, magic, and relationships as this sim game is all about learning new skills and living together in harmony with others. Farm, forage, fish, raise livestock, and more. 

    Here’s another beautiful game. This time, it’s a lovely pixel art style game with a great story behind it. I like that your character actually holds a conversation with the NPCs, too. You’re not just subjected to a one-sided monologue. Plus, the NPCs exhibit some really great personalities through their speech. It’s clear this game was lovingly made. 

    Furnish Master

    Furnish Master is a relaxing interior design game where you furnish apartments, houses, commercial estates, and outdoor spaces. Use intuitive controls to place each piece of furniture and decor how you like it. Painstakingly choose color schemes and materials for your furniture to match the theme of each room. Even resize items so they fit perfectly in a space. As you complete spaces, earn money so you can buy new properties to continue decorating. You can also engage in story mode where you can buy properties across a single city. Even take on some challenges and puzzles in story mode to unlock new items.

    Here’s another diorama-like interior design game, but this time has a far more complex system and more involved missions. Paint the walls to certain specifications, furnish a whole kitchen with specific items, and use your hard-earned money to decorate your own place or buy other properties. There was even a puzzle level in the story mode where you search a room for puzzle pieces and put it together. If the levels have that much variation, I think it’ll be a really fun game. Not to mention the furniture options are varied, there’s a pretty great placement mechanic that includes snapping, and the graphics are nice. This is great for folks who want a little more direction and a more involved interior design game. 

    Botany Manor 

    Botany Manor takes place at a stately home in 19th century England, and you play as Arabella Greene, a retired botanist who lives at the manor. Spend your days exploring the different rooms of your historically accurate manor. Get to know Arabella and her career as a woman in science through your explorations. Discover beautiful gardens and sprawling countryside vistas as you take in the relaxing nature around you. Take care of a variety of plants by finding their seeds and planting them in the appropriate environments. Inspect newspapers, letters, paintings, and more to get a better understanding of the needs of your plants. Care for them and help them flourish by meeting their exact needs, and watch as your efforts are rewarded!

    The visuals are just breathtaking in this game. They’re by no means highly realistic levels of art, but the designs of plants, the architecture, and the dynamic lighting work perfectly together to create such a charming environment. The manor grounds are to die for. I’d love to have my own home with a garden and orchard as beautiful as this one! Searching for clues on how best to grow the plants adds an element of fun beyond simple gardening. It gives you a reason to look around the manor, but also makes you feel like a researcher, which the character you play is! If you play nothing else on this list, play this game. It’s so worth it.

    Minami Lane

    Welcome to Minami Lane! This lovely little life sim lets you build your very own street where you can decorate and manage shops. Build homes to attract villagers to your street. Keep them happy by beautifying the area with decorations, shops, and attractions. Build ramen shops, boba cafes, bookstores, and more. Each shop has its own inventory and effects on the neighborhood. Play missions for a challenge or sandbox mode to focus on the creative side of building. 

    This was such an enjoyable experience. There are goals and missions to complete, but they weren’t super high-stakes or difficult to complete. The overall graphics are gorgeous and soft and adorable. I love the Japanese-inspired architecture and street design. It’s nostalgic for me, and brings a sense of comfort. Overall, this game is perfect if you want a city-builder with more than just creative building. 

    Lightyear Frontier

    Lightyear Frontier is the cozy farm sim set on an alien planet and uses mechs to farm! That’s right, you get to pilot your own fleet of mechs to get things done around the farm or go out exploring the gorgeous world around you. Build your new home and develop a flourishing farm by growing alien crops. Explore your surroundings and restore them by cleaning up pollution and clearing invasive weeds. Discover the secrets of the world, and do it all while playing solo or together with friends.

    What’s better than a farm sim? A farm sim with semi-realistic art where you pilot a mech suit to farm and explore, of course! This is seriously such a fun concept, and the different advanced tools you have access to make things even more fun. Vacuum up some water or seeds. Use your spikesaw to obliterate rocks and bushes. It’s a very modern sci-fi take on farm sims, and I love it! 

    Night Stones

    In Night Stones, you find yourself trapped in a dream in a world full of magic and a rich story. Upon waking, you find yourself still in this world and must discover the secrets of the world and find a way home. Explore the beautiful world of Mythica where you’ll encounter Night Stones. These stones will turn night into day, and vice versa, allowing you to meet new characters. Complete quests to gain new abilities that will help you to further your mission. There’s no combat in this game, but there are enemies you’ll need to outsmart to accomplish your goals!

    This was such a short demo, but I loved it. Movement is smooth. Controls are super easy. The art is cartoony, but lovely. Animations looked great, too. All of it comes together to present such a good demo that makes me excited for the full game!

    Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge

    Kamaeru is an adorable farm sim where you farm, raise frogs, and preserve nature. Transform the surrounding wetland into a hospitable home for your amphibian friends. Meanwhile, feed, breed, and care for a variety of frogs. In fact, there are over 500 frogs for you to collect! You’ll need to figure out how to attract new types of frogs, then breed them together to unlock rare colors and patterns. Take pictures of your cute pals, and decorate the refuge to make the coziest little from rescue! 

    I loved the watercolor-like art in this game, and a comfortable creature collector. Playing is calm and easy. The frogs are adorable, plus restoring the wetlands is a fulfilling objective. Decorations are adorable and fun to place. There is a tic-tac-toe mini game to breed frogs together that adds a fun element, and there are more minigames mentioned to be coming with the full version. This makes me excited for the full version because it ought to be packed with a lot of great things to do. 

    Summerhouse

    Summerhouse is a relaxing building game. That’s it! Build structures on a small scale to create cute neighborhoods. Set your neighborhoods near the sea, in the middle of the city, or nestled in the majestic mountains. There are no rules, no goals, and no objectives to this game. The focus is purely on creative building. So, kick-back and relax with some building!

    This one reminds me a lot of Townscaper. You just simply unleash your creativity and build, but instead of creating whole cities and villages, you’re creating houses, apartment buildings, or shops. The art is beautiful and relaxing, and so is the music. This is a great game if you’re looking to get creative without the constraints of missions or timers.

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  • svgDec 21, 2023Indie Highlight

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    World End Diner is all about running a diner and cooking up some great dishes for a cast of cute little animals and robots. They live on the last little island in the world after the destruction of humanity, and just want some tasty treats! 

    Your job as proprietor of the diner in World End Diner is to go exploring where you’ll collect a variety of fruits and herbs, harvest crops from your farm, and cook! But that’s not all you’ll find in the woods. You’ll also discover the history of the world and what happened to humans as you explore. You’ll also update and upgrade your cooking equipment to cook even more as you progress through the game. And of course you can build and decorate the diner to create the coziest diner at the end of the world!

    Release Date

    World End Diner is available now on Steam!

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  • svgDec 20, 2023Feature

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    We’re another week closer to Christmas and I can’t wait! I love going around the neighborhood looking at people’s decorations. I think that’s part of why ACNH having lights in trees feels so satisfying to me. What else is super exciting about the Christmas season, is the new gaming systems and games you get! And with Steam Decks being fairly popular, what better way to celebrate the approach of the holiday with some gift ideas for that system? 

    The following list only features games that have been Steam Deck verified, to save the gamer in your life some troubles and heartache!

    My Time at Sandrock

    My Time at Sandrock is the long awaited sequel to My Time at Portia. And just like the prequel, this one takes place in a post-apocalyptic world 330 years after the Day of Calamity destroyed a lot of modern technology. You accept the role as a builder of Sandrock, a desert community. Gather resources to build machines, befriend locals, fight enemies, and lead the town to economic prosperity! Uncover the backstories for over 30 NPCs while you forge friendships with them. Complete side quests, play fun minigames, and even team up with a friend to play the game together! 

    APICO

    APICO is a lovely game where you leave your boring city job and return to Port APICO, where you grew up, and return to your beekeeping roots. The APICO islands feature a set of lush, beautiful environments for you to explore. Each biome has its own breed of bees for you to discover. Gather resources to use in your studies or crafting. Make and sell Apicola (honey) and other beekeeping items you will discover. Play fun beekeeping minigames, without the stings! More importantly, breed different cross breeds of bees and discover 30 new species to help repopulate the APICO islands with. Plus, uncover the secrets of the islands while you explore. 

    I even have a review of APICO here, if you want more information!

    Cornucopia

    Cornucopia offers the same comfortable features players have grown to love from the farming game genre, but in a lovely 2.5D pixel art style. You plant 52 types of fruit trees, 15 types of berry bushes, and grow 52 different crops, including their different artisan varieties. Sell crops or cook them up in one of 200 different recipes! There’s also logging, fishing, mining, and pet breeding to occupy your days. Also enter the pets into competitive races or use them to help you fight monsters. Then, kick back and relax with some crafting and decorating.  Unlock furniture and decorations to turn your farm into your favorite getaway. Make friends with Cornucopia’s NPCs, too. Who knows, maybe one of the over 47 NPCs will catch your fancy! Romance them, go on dates, and unlock their romantic cut scenes. Even marry one, start a family, and decorate their room in your house. 

    While the Iron’s Hot

    Play as a simple journeyman blacksmith in While the Iron’s Hot. You’re looking to become a master blacksmith. This game features an exciting combat-free experience. Journey to the mystical lands of Ellian where you’ll meet a cast of quirky characters. Explore tunnels full of puzzles and resources. Master every step of the blacksmithing process. Smelt ore, turn metal into ingots, and shape them into useful items. Use your skills to repair machinery to open up new areas to explore. Craft equipment that helps you explore new regions. Even work hard to restore the defunct blacksmithing town of Stal. Revitalizing the village just might prove to Eillian’s artisans that you’re worthy of being a master blacksmith!

    Loddlenaut

    In Loddlenaut, you play as an interstellar custodian who has been hired by the spacefaring mega corporation GUPPI to clean up their mess. They’ve inundated GUP-14 with pollution, and want you to restore the planet. This is an open-world ocean adventure where you’ll get to explore this beautiful alien planet, along with the corporate ruins of GUPPI. You’ll find remnants of their buildings, ships, and machinery that have all sunken to the bottom of the game’s ocean. Use your bubble gun, clean up the trash, remove oil spills, and uncover clues about the past inhabitants. Unlock better gadgets to help you clean up different types of ocean pollution. Recycle the trash you collect and use it to craft items. Even befriend cute little axolotl-looking creatures called loddles!

    Did you get a new Switch instead? Or perhaps you got one for someone and want some games to go with it. Either way, check out my list of 5 Farming Games for Your New Switch!

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  • svgDec 20, 2023Snack Size News

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    Make Room is an adorable little sandbox simulation game where you create small dioramas. Choose from over a hundred different objects to craft the perfect reading nook, cozy kitchen, or comfy bedroom. Freely place each item exactly where you’d like it to go. Choose from a number of different colors to make the perfect aesthetic. Even pick what the outside of the room will look like, resize objects like trees, and more! 

    Release Date

    This lovely little room maker, Make Room will release sometime next year and can be found on Steam!

    Paralives boasts better room-building than The Sims if that was your favorite part of that game. Or there’s Tiny Glade, that’s just building cute little buildings and such!

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  • svgDec 14, 2023Indie Highlight

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    Have you been wanting to care for a host of houseplants, but don’t have the green thumb or the space necessary? Then Taking Root could be perfect for you!

    Taking Root is a cozy and casual game all about taking care of houseplants. You’ll take time to water them, and prune the plants as necessary. Ensure their growth by preparing the perfect environment for them. This game takes “realistic” seriously, too, as the plants all grow in real time. Then, you can even propagate offshoots and cuttings of your plants to create a flourishing at-home garden! Sell your cuttings to earn some money that you can use to decorate your space, too. There are over 100 pieces of furniture and decor items for you to choose from. Plus, furniture is customizable. 

    Taking Root is sure to be a comfy and cozy gardening experience!

    Release Date

    You can find this lovely game on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist. However, there is no release date listed. It’s just expected to release sometime next year.

    Want more gardening? Try Garden Galaxy and Botany Manor!

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