If you want to share a unique Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing themed gift this year, look no further. Browse some super adorable themed gaming merch and so much more – check it out for yourself on Etsy or Shopify
Stardew Valley Gardening kit
This Stardew Valley inspired DIY gardening kit comes with everything you need to grow your own beautiful plant. The printed weather proofed ceramic pot has a drain hole and a tray so that you can safely water your plant friend. The print features a wide variety of characters and memorable scenery from the game. The kit includes a reusable zipper pouch, a bamboo gardening stake to name your plant, instruction cards, stickers and so much more!
Much like the Stardew Valley kit, everything is custom made with the tiny world of Animal Crossing that fits in the palm of your hand in mind. Perfect to grow the included seeds or a succulent of your likings. It comes with a tiny shovel, made for the kit, the tiny planter is last imprinted so it won’t fade, it also has a drainage hole and a bamboo coaster. There is a small canvas soil bag themed after Leif. A no fail instruction card along with a tiny bamboo plant stick also themed after our gardening friend Leif from Animal Crossing.
Animal Crossing themed Coin Purses… and more!
This super soft Animal Crossing inspired Coin Purse comes in the design inspired by everyone’s favorite video game. Choose between a midnight blue Fossil, golden Bell Bag or the ever adorable Celeste from ACNH inspired coin purse. If you want to go for the ultimate fan bundle you can choose the tripple pack that includes all three of them, perfect for gifting or to keep all to yourself.
Tales from Hazelwood Post is a cozy combination of puzzles and visual novel-like gaming. Your grandmother has fallen ill, so you return to the small town of Hazelwood to care for her. You unwittingly take on the job of being the new postmaster at the post office, and today is your first day! The post office is a small, dusty little operation that ought to be an easy task to run. However, the homes of Hazelwood don’t have addresses!
You’ll experience a gentle day-to-day cycle where you open the post office each morning. Explore the ongoing story of Tales from Hazelwood Post as you get to know the residents of the town and nearby Lighthouse Point and Crow Hollows. Piece together clues and figure out who everyone is, then deliver the mail to the people you think it belongs to! Sometimes it’s the regular newspaper delivery, and sometimes it’s a special delivery. You might even come across lost love letters with no signatures, and it’s up to you to deliver every piece of mail properly.
Your choices affect the story, so choose wisely and see what happens!
Tales from Hazelwood Post is listed on Itchi.io and Steam. There is no release date available, though!
Remember Garden Galaxy, that adorable little cozy idle game I talked about here? In that one, you’re collecting coins from random visitors to spend in order to get decorations. Then, you take the decor and build your own little landscapes. It’s perfect for really casual gameplay, and so is this next game!
Rusty’s Retirement is another idle game I came across, but this time instead of decorating you’re running a farm. The game sits comfortably at the bottom of your screen so you can continue your tasks while it chugs along doing its thing. You’ll plant crops and watch as Rusty does his thing taking care of them. He’ll water, nurture, and harvest everything you plant. And as you progress, you’ll unlock new crops to plant.
Then, take those crops and manufacture biofuel. Rusty’s Retirement’s biofuel is clean and energy-efficient, and sells for a good bit of money so you can reinvest in your farm. You can also employ a host of cute robots who will help with planting, watering, and harvesting crops. Even customize and upgrade them for increased efficiency.
Don’t worry too much about getting distracted by Rusty’s Retirement, though. You can turn on “Focus Mode” to slow down production to allow you to concentrate on your tasks!
This fun farming idler is listed on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist. However, there is no specific release date listed. It’s set to come out sometime in the first quarter of 2024, though!
Pixel Cafe is reminiscent of the cooking games I used to play years ago. You know, like Papa’s Freezeria (and the rest of the Papa’s games), or the plethora of other similar restaurant management games that were out there. What’s cozier than nostalgia, after all! This game is a combination of arcade-style time management and visual novel narrative, after all.
Step into the role of a small-town girl as she embarks on an emotional journey that spans three generations. Pixel Cafe takes place in a gorgeous pixel-art world, and takes place in Karstok. The city sits stuck between a socialist past and a capitalist future. Experience a gripping tale as you explore the past and present. See how memories of your grandparents shaped your life into what it is now, too.
You’ll forge relationships with your Pixel Cafe bosses and clients as you experience the story while perfecting your coffee-making and cooking skills. Your professional career will take place across 10 wildly different bars. You’ll learn new recipes and have the chance to take on 50 optional Nightmare levels. When you’re not cooking up a storm and making customers happy, take some time to breathe a new life into Grandma’s old house. Decorate it to suit your style and make it home!
Station to Station is a relaxing puzzle experience set in a voxel-art world. Transform the world from dull and drab, to vibrant places full of life by building railways. Build connections for commerce and passengers across the countryside. Get the necessary materials to the production plants that need them, and then the finished product to the cities that need them to create thriving landscapes. Complete the puzzle elements and solve logistical conundrums while optimizing your train routes for the best results!
Each level of Station to Station starts as a dull, lifeless landscape. It’s uninteresting and borderline boring, and it’s certainly an uninviting place for people and animals to live. However, as you make railway connections, the maps transform into gorgeous dioramas full of flora and fauna. There are six different biomes, each with a handful of levels. Each of those levels, while set in a specific biome, and therefore have the same atmosphere, differ from each other in their layouts. This offers just enough difference to keep the game visually appealing.
The voxel art style provides a visually beautiful and intriguing element to Station to Station, too. I’ve restored the color and life to a map only to sit panning around the map watching the individual pieces. Watching the camels in the desert, or the bustling little villages in the grassy meadows is one of my favorite things to do. Observing all of the little details that were added just absolutely sucks me in.
Station to Station offers quite a bit of content, plus has announced more to come in a recently posted roadmap. I’d classify the “puzzles” as more objectives than puzzles, but that might be nitpicky. You have a set amount of money to use to build your connections. There are a limited number of cards to help you with discounts and such, too. However, you’re ultimately trying to build railway connections within a specific area of each map. Sometimes that’s easy, and sometimes it takes a little more trial and error. There’s also a few extra optional objectives per level you can complete to increase the difficulty level.
Nothing is overly difficult, though. I didn’t sit stuck contemplating a problem for long stretches. Plus, Station to Station gives you a couple of options for redoing the level. There is a reset button, making returning to the absolute beginning of a level easy. Or, if you just need to redo a little bit, you can return to a checkpoint instead of wiping the whole level. They’ve both come in handy when figuring out how to play and how to complete a level.
What Station to Station boils down to, though, is you place train tracks to connect buildings, then you move on to the next level. That’s it. This is not one of your deep, story-driven or deeply puzzling games chock-full of different mechanics and facets. It’s a simple game with a gorgeous art style, and that’s ok! This is perfect for me when I’m in a puzzle mood, but don’t want to be stuck on a problem for long. It’s a great low-pressure, low-stakes experience.
So, if you’re looking for something more, this isn’t for you. If you want that low-pressure experience, though, I recommend this game! I give it:
It’s December! And you know what that means, right? Christmas is almost here! My favorite holiday is Halloween, but Christmas is a close second. It’s the perfect time of year to get comfy and cozy with a good blanket, cup of hot chocolate, and a lovely video game. I’ve gone hunting for some great Christmas-themed games to share with you all this season, too!
Everybody Wham Wham is one such Christmas-themed game I’ve come across. This one comes from developers Bonte Avond, who also made the funny Once Upon a Jester, and also has those fun storybook looking visuals. This time, it’s a whimsical story-driven adventure where you compete to build the best snowman!
You’ll go head-to-head with two other competitors to compete for the winning spot. Just make sure you pay attention to the criteria and build within the time limit. Everybody Wham Wham will have you hand-rolling your snowman, as well as decorating it. Choose from 60 different decorations to impress the judges. And if you do it right, you might just score a perfect 10! Then, hang out with a cast of quirky characters while you attend karaoke night, drink a hot cup of cocoa, or listen to a fun campfire song with them. Not everything is quite as it seems, either. Talk with Wham Wham the snowman to see if you can’t unravel the reason why the festival is held and what it is he’s hiding from contestants!
Everybody Wham Wham is currently available on Steam and Itch.io for you to enjoy whenever!
Mind Over Magic is a simulation game where you run a magic school. Design, build, and develop your ideal magic school. Prepare your students survival skills and how to face the obstacles of the Underschool, an underground trial. Engage in a number of different types of magic, and make sure to keep the mysterious fog at bay!
Mind Over Magic allows you to build the school brick by brick. Create unique rooms by hand-placing lights, furniture, and decorations. Opt for a whimsical and cozy look, or perhaps the creepy and spooky is more your style! Then, run classes to teach your students magic and survival skills to prepare them for the Underschool. Choose the class schedule and assign teachers for each one. Craft wands and potions to summon more powerful students, and animate the dead to take care of chores. Then, delve into the labyrinthine Underschool to fight deadly magical battles!
You can find Mind Over Magic on Steam. There is no release date set, but you can add it to your Wishlist and sign up for Playtesting!
Ready for another base builder? Because we have SteamWorld Build today! This is another strategy sim where the world is dying, and it’s up to you to pioneer a new city. Featuring a Wild West theme, and some creative steamfolk (essentially robots) taking the place of generic humans, this game offers a unique story. Your goal is to build a thriving city, uncover lost space-age technology, and make sure your citizens have their needs met!
SteamWorld Build offers an in-depth base-building and management experience with five distinct maps to choose from. Dig deep into the underground world full of ancient technology that might help society survive. Collect ore while you’re down there, and gather resources above ground to help craft your successful society. Even attract some wealthy robots and engage in trades at the local train station. Ensure you keep your own good flowing to create a prosperous city. And don’t forget to manage your steamfolks’ needs. Their survival is key, but their happiness is just as important!
Fae Farm is a beautiful farming sim where you cultivate crops, craft items to decorate your home with or sell, and care for adorable farm animals. Befriend a varying cast of townspeople, and even romance some of them. Plus, you even get to venture into the faerie realm, where you’ll see faeries and fantastical creatures not seen in the human realm. Even delve deep into the mines to collect resources, fight enemies, and uncover mysteries!
What’s Great About the Game
The art in Fae Farm is absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to fall in love with the game based on that alone. The scenery is varied. The NPCs all look different. Even your clothing options are lovely. Then, the furniture and decorating choices are great. You’re sure to find something that suits your style, whatever it may be. Adventuring into the fae realm is probably my favorite part. It’s so whimsical and magical. Even the dungeon is dreamy, though chock full of enemies. The art is absolutely what drew me to the game to begin with!
What I also really like about Fae Farm is that tools switch automatically for you. Walk up to a tree to chop, and you’ll immediately have your axe in hand. Then, go to a rock and poof! There’s your pickaxe! It’s a super handy mechanic that I would love to see in all farming sims. It saves time and lets me switch between activities much faster. Besides that, fast travel unlocks early game. There are several points across the map called Wayshrines that act as fast travel spots. You need to craft a seal from cave resources in order to activate the Wayshrine, but you can accomplish that easily early on. Having fast travel early in the game makes it genuinely useful and not just an afterthought. Plus, the mines have waypoints where you can place seals you’ve crafted in order to get to different levels without going through the whole mine. Think Stardew Valley’s mine elevator, but with more magic and teleporting!
What I Dislike
Unfortunately, Fae Farm has more aspects that I dislike than I like. In order to play multiplayer, or even just name your character, you need to create a Phoenix Labs account. Otherwise, your character’s name defaults to the account name that’s on the system you’re playing on. So, my character’s name is a string of random letters I used for my Steam name. It kind of ruins any romance when my husband calls me by name.
I once wasted a precious Fae Farm day sitting in the crafting menu or almanac menu thinking the game was paused. It certainly was not. The nice thing is that you aren’t negatively affected for passing out after bedtime, so all I truly lost was a day of play time. It didn’t decay friendship points with my critters, and it didn’t ruin any quests. Then there’s the sales tables. The limited sales table spots really get in the way of me mass selling a hoard of items I’ve held onto for too long. It doesn’t inhibit money-making, just clearing out that stack of 600 fibers I probably don’t need so many of.
The exuberant laughing at everything is obnoxious, though. When I accomplish something, I laugh. When talking to an NPC, they laugh instead of speak. None of it is funny! I’d prefer if they muttered some nonsense like Sims do. Unfortunately, the laughing just lends itself to the overall soul-less feel the game has. The NPCs have no deep backgrounds, and their dialogue is repetitive and shallow. There’s not even a point to befriending anyone unless you’re trying to marry them. And there’s only a handful of marriage candidates. Even the festivals feel lifeless. They’re not exciting and engaging. Everything feels very surface level.
Don’t get me wrong, Fae Farm is somewhat fun. I’ve put some hours into it, but I’d hoped for a lot more polish for that AAA price tag. A better story with more meaningful characters would have made this game an absolute gem. I’d also like for everyone to have a nose, please! Everything feels so shallow and surface level. I don’t need some deep, dark secrets to go into it, just a little more substance that makes me want to talk to people or do things. And when you add up several minor gripes, things feel lackluster, and that’s what we have here.