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  • svgFeb 14, 2024Mobile Game

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    Tiny Boutique: Fashion Game by TinyBoxGames is a wonderfully adorable mobile game with pretty pixel graphics. In this game, you run a little boutique that services customers looking for fresh new outfits and accessories. Each customer will have a request for a whole outfit or just some accessories. You can buy the requested items to fulfill the order, or dress each customer in something else. You want to make sure you send them off in something they love, though! As you make sales and earn money, you can buy upgrades to make the boutique comfortable and cuter. Choose different themes for your shop, decorate your home, and customize your character, too! 

    Graphics

    I love how cute and simple Tiny Boutique looks. The pixel graphics lend a nostalgic charm to the game that is enhanced by the varied character designs. Your customers all look unique with different outfits, fun hairstyles and colors, and some really cute clothing requests. The color palette used throughout the game is lovely, too. It’s not quite all pastel, but none of it is super bold or harsh. It’s easy to look at and play.

    Gameplay

    Overall, Tiny Boutique is a delightful app to play. You put together outfits to please customers, upgrade your shop, decorate your home, change the theme of the shop, and that’s it! It’s a simple game that focuses on exactly what it advertises. This isn’t one of those bait and switch types, like is common in mobile games. It’s a breath of fresh air, really. Plus, having a fun fashion game is great. 

    There are some ads in Tiny Boutique. You have the option to watch some ads to get customers into the building faster. You can watch up to 10 ads daily. Each ad brings in 8 customers, which means you can call in a total of 80 customers a day. Otherwise, customers trickle in every 20 minutes or so, making this game a very casual, relaxed experience. There are no time limits or speedy service rewards. Just some good fashion fun!

    Final Thoughts

    While Tiny Boutique is simplistic, it’s perfect for taking some time to just relax with a game. It’s easy to learn, easy to pick up and play, and fun! 

    I give it

    You can find Tiny Boutique on Google Play and the Apple App Store!

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  • svgFeb 8, 2024Reviews

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    A Tiny Sticker Tale by developer Ogre Pixel (the same devs who made Lonesome Village) is a cute and cozy little adventure game with a heartwarming story. Play as Flynn the donkey, as you explore Figori Island. You’re there to search for your father. Things aren’t quite what they seem, though, as everything is a sticker! You’ll complete quests and manipulate your environment to solve puzzles by using the stickers you collect. Move a bridge to get across the river. Find a bird’s egg. Even decorate your very own home with cute decorations! 

    The Story

    There isn’t much of a story to A Tiny Sticker Tale, actually. You start the game by hopping off a boat onto Figori Island. There, you speak to a rabbit NPC who teaches you how to manipulate the stickers in the world, but also mentions you’re looking for your father. That’s it. That’s all the backstory and information you get about why you’re here in the first place. Of course, having a story at all isn’t necessary for a successful game, and I don’t think the lack of story impacts this game. Nevermind that the game is a solid two hours of gameplay, so it’s not bogged down by too much exposition or cut scenes. 

    Gameplay

    A Tiny Sticker Tale is simple to learn and easy to play, which makes it a great little palette cleanser between heavier games. You move around the island, collect stickers, solve puzzles, and complete quests that are often fetch quests. That’s it! There’s no complicated mechanics. Nothing is hard to understand or do. It’s a great game idea that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s reminiscent of my childhood and using sticker books for entertainment. 

    The characters you encounter add life and warmth to the world. They each have a reason for needing help that makes you feel good about performing good deeds. But what really adds to the overall heartwarming feel of A Tiny Sticker Tale are the graphics and soundtrack. The cartoony nature of the art is charming and adorable. They’re inviting and easy to look at, while the soundtrack sits perfectly in the background accompanying you on your journey. 

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, A Tiny Sticker Tale is an enjoyable experience. It’s a cute little game worth the few hours it takes to play! 

    I give it a

    You can find A Tiny Sticker Tale on Steam and Switch!

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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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  • svgFeb 1, 2024Reviews

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    I’ve had my eye on Little-Known Galaxy by developers Carbon & Kay for a bit now. In fact, I’ve written about it before because it’s so cute and looks like it will be a great farm sim with a different setting. Recently, the game received a demo on Steam, which I took some time to play, and it was such a fun experience. 

    Little-Known Galaxy puts you in the shoes of a brand new space captain-in-training who has been assigned to their first ship by the Space Alliance. It’s your job to work with your crew to solve the mysteries surrounding an ancient alien relic found on the Grey Planet. You also get to do things like build relationships with the crew, take on some new crew members as your progress, explore alien worlds, grow crops, decorate, and more! 

    The Demo

    I’ve been excitedly waiting on the Little-Known Galaxy demo, and played it as soon as I heard it was out. And it did not disappoint. It’s a very introductory look into the game, as most farm sim demos are, but it gives a good feel to many things. You meet the base crew members, who are so unique and so quirky. There’s humans, aliens, old people, young people, and some robots, too. They’re sure to be a ton of fun as you progress through the story. Also, their dialogue matches their personalities and they appear to have actual, real conversations with you. 

    The overall aesthetic of the Little-Known Galaxy is just adorable. You’re plopped onto a derelict ship that’s in need of serious upgrades, but the common areas are pleasant. The shops have personality, and the crew homes match their inhabitants. Nothing is too bright or over-the-top. Everything feels like it has its own place and meshes with its surroundings well. Using robots for the sales bin and the family bots adds to the sci-fi, futuristic too. Throw in container gardening on a space ship and I think the developers have nailed having a farm sim on a spaceship. 

    I found the introduction of the Little-Known Galaxy’s captain’s quarters to be funny in how similar it is to other farm sims. It’s a wreck. There’s debris and trash everywhere, much like your farms start out on Earth! The clean up is far more satisfying, because you receive a cleaner ray to zap away the boxes and debris. It’s an oddly satisfying and comforting start to a game that I really enjoy having. Another fun aspect is finding random sparkly spots throughout the ship where hidden parts or money can be found reminds me a lot of checking the trash cans in Pokemon games for items. It was a touch of nostalgia that added to the charm of the game.

    I can’t wait to experience this game in full. I want to explore the universe! 

    Release Date

    You can find the game, along with the demo, on Steam. You can Wishlist it, but there is currently no release date listed. 

    Galactic Getaway is another life sim set in space!

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  • svgJan 31, 2024Reviews

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    Cat Cafe Manager by developer Roost Games is an adorable and casual cafe management game full of cats, decorating, and fun customers. You return to the little village of Caterwaul Way, home to your grandmother’s old cat cafe. You’ve recently inherited the place and it’s your job to renovate it to get it back up and running. Impress the locals with your business savvy, while befriending and caring for the local stray cat population. Even adopt out the cats to forever homes! 

    Graphics

    I really enjoy the visuals in Cat Cafe Manager. It looks like a hand drawn game, and the backgrounds and character designs all feel unique. They fit in with the sleepy little village vibes and enhance them, even. Every visual works together to create the cozy vibe that this game goes for. The cats are adorable, too. Plus, the main characters each have their own designs and personalities. The regular customers are just carbon copies of each other, which works for this game as they only serve to earn you money. Their designs are nice, though. You can tell who is a fisherman, a witch, and so on. 

    The Gameplay

    Cat Cafe Manager is a fairly short game, clocking in around 10-15 hours depending on your play style. It’s reminiscent of Diner Dash, which I played a ton of growing up, just without the time constraints. Instead of dashing around as fast as possible to appease customers and keep them happy, you can take your sweet time taking orders, preparing drinks and food, and delivering to customers. There’s no reason to rush around. Everyone is there to relax and enjoy their time. Plus, they want to hang out with the adorable cats you’ve collected. However, it is a bit grindy and repetitive. Day in and day out is filled with opening shop, serving customers, buying resources, rescuing cats, and upgrading the shrine’s upgrade trees. That’s it. 

    You get to lay out your cafe’s floorplan yourself, so you can create the perfect little space to suit your needs and design vision. It’s a nice touch to the game to give you almost total freedom from the get-go. Cat Cafe Manager also lets you decorate the space using several different sets of furniture and appliances. However, the decoration options are severely limited. I want spooky, moody wallpaper and flooring to match the harvest and vampire tables, but that doesn’t exist. It’s all up-beat and perky pinks and greens, which are perfect for a plant-heavy cafe, or there are  other unsuitable colors. This type of game should be heavy on the decor options, especially when sets are a thing already. The sets should go all the way into walls, floors, etc. 

    Another element to Cat Cafe Manager is hiring staff to help you in the cafe. This is useful if you’re tired of running around taking orders, making items, delivering to tables, cleaning, and making friends with the local strays. The staff can be tasked with any of those things, taking a load off your plate. However, it really veers into idle game territory once you do that. There isn’t much need for you to do anything besides befriend cats and shop for necessities or decor when you have staff. So, if you’re looking to be more hands-on, don’t hire so many staff members, or any at all. 

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, I did enjoy Cat Cafe Manager. I did struggle with keeping the desired items stocked so customers could order them, but that could just be a skill issue. The different types of customers are very well interconnected with the rest of the game, otherwise. Each type pays in a certain kind of money, which can then be used at specific shops in town. Having different types of currency added a level of necessary management that the game otherwise doesn’t have since it’s so laid-back. Sometimes the item collision boxes were annoying as they aren’t very apparent, but caused me to get stuck on tables and chairs that didn’t appear to be in the way. 

    What really got to me, though, was that upgrading the shrine in town didn’t visually appear to change anything. Cat Cafe Manager emphasizes that you’re restoring the shrine by running the cafe and adopting out cats, and does give you upgrade trees to buy into. However, it doesn’t ever visually look run-down, nor does it look improved as you “restore it”. That would have been a super satisfying addition to the game. 

    This game is cute, but not extremely engrossing. I give it:

    You can find Cat Cafe Manager on Steam and Switch!

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  • svgJan 31, 2024Reviews

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    Echoes of the Plum Grove by Freedom Games is a farm sim where you play as what looks like a person straight from Colonial America. You embark on a journey to a new land to settle and set up a farm where you’ll live out your dream life. However, disaster strikes, and you find yourself washed up on the shores of Honeywood island. There, you’re returned to health and handed a parcel of land to tend to. Spend your days farming, getting to know the townspeople, decorating, cooking, and fishing. Even build a legacy and play through different generations of the family you built. 

    The Demo is a Great Peek at the Coming Fun

    I received the demo of Echoes of the Plum Grove and I am in love! The graphics in this game are so charming and I’m enamored by them. The environments are gorgeous and full of life. Each building has its own personality, but the map thankfully labels the buildings so you have an easier time navigating around town. Run into the cozy bakery for tasty treats, or visit the accommodating town hall to talk to the mayor, then run down to the bog to talk to the mysterious town witch. There’s different areas to explore that exhibit their own vibes perfectly.  Plus, there’s fast travel between signposts! 

    I also really enjoy the character designs of Echoes of the Plum Grove. They’re varied and the different outfits seem to match character personalities. They also have a Paper Mario feel as they’re not 3D. The dialogue seemed pretty baseline and normal, but not unique enough to set it apart from other games. What’s really fun is that you can make choices to befriend the people or antagonize them and make enemies. The generational family aspect is quite unique, and is something I think will set this game apart from others. Raising your children, then playing as them, or others, after your character perishes is a fresh take many have craved. Eternal youth is great, but getting the chance to grow old and have family that are more than just there is fantastic.  

    I can’t wait for this game to be released! 

    Release Date

    You can find Echoes of the Plum Grove on Steam, where you can Wishlist it. However, the Steam page lists the release date as this year. I’m hoping it’s sooner, rather than later.

    Blue Oak Bridge is another cute farming sim, but with magic and weird little creatures.

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  • svgJan 24, 2024Reviews

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    If you aren’t familiar with Blue Oak Bridge, it’s a farming sim set in a fantasy world full of magic and unique creatures. You’re washed up on the shores of Eloria with no memory of what happened to you or even where you are. The townspeople are more than happy to welcome you into their charming little village and help you get on your feet. Not everything is quite as peaceful as it seems, though. Trouble is brewing and you find yourself smack in the middle of it all. 

    Story and Characters

    The overall story and delivery of the story in Blue Oak Bridge feels a little less than cohesive. You wash up on the shores of a foreign land with no memory of what happened. You’re integrated into the town and find yourself in the middle of solving problems that none of the locals seem to want to solve. There’s no really compelling argument made for you to be doing all that work. You just… do. Games need a reason for you to be the one single handedly taking on the burden of restoring things for it to be engaging. 

    Otherwise, the characters are cool. They’re varied in appearance and personality, while still feeling like they belong to the same community. The character designs are pretty unique for both their portraits, map icons, and overworld sprites. It adds flavor to the game that you don’t always see. They also have fun dialogue when you talk to them. However, the NPCs do talk in a dialect akin to Simlish, and it’s fairly obnoxious to listen to. I would have preferred them to not be voice acted with the nonsense language. 

    Controls and Gameplay

    Blue Oak Bridge is ultimately clunky in its controls. Movement is odd, and aiming your farm tools appropriately is borderline luck based. Trying to water a pad of crops is even worse. It’s like the sensitivity is turned up on the mouse and you’re trying to click at a very specific spot. The watering outline jumps around wildly until you find that exact sweet spot. The nice thing is there’s a strafe button to make using the hoe and planting easier. 

    The map is clunky. It’s difficult to see what a building is. The character icons show the area they’re in, but not where in the area. So, you can see if a character is in town, at the beach, in the woods, etc. However, you can’t see where in each of those areas they are. That’s fine outside of town, but in town, it can be a real hunt to find who you’re looking for.Their icons also don’t pop up with their name, so you better memorize what their icons look like, and they’re designed differently than their portraits or sprites!  Map doesn’t even show your location, so you’re forced to learn every bend and curve of every area, especially the town, which isn’t laid out in a grid pattern. All of these elements just make using the map more of a headache than it needs to be. 

    Blue Oak Bridge also has some weird glitches that don’t break the game, but make it a little less enjoyable. Fish can glitch out and totally disappear as they’re coming for your hook. And if the body of water is situated at the bottom of the screen, your toolbar covers up a lot of the fish. Thankfully, the fishing minigame is easy and laid back and doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out (looking at your Stardew Valley). 

    Visuals

    Overall, Blue Oak Bridge is pretty. Your farm plot is nice and big with gorgeous grass textures, several different kinds of trees, wild flowers, and a river. It’s a cozy, idyllic little piece of land perfect for starting a farm. The other areas of the fairly small map are nice, too. The mines have different “themes” every 10 levels, and some of them are borderline ethereal. I loved the lighting and overall feel of some of the mine levels. The beach areas are nicely done too, as is the swamp. All three areas feel appropriately beachy or swampy. The snowy mountain area is very small, and doesn’t contain much besides a house, pond, and snow. Plus, the animals are adorable, there’s some really nice decor, and the town looks great. 

    So, What is Good?

    Outside of the character designs being unique, and the graphics being gorgeous, the story being cute, and fishing actually being relaxing, there’s some other stuff that Blue Oak Bridge got right. A lot of what this game got perfect is in the little things like chores. It seems to me the developers looked at all the farm sims out there and improved on certain aspects.

    Naturally, you start out with different tools like the axe, pickaxe, watering can, and hoe so you can work on your farm. The watering can doesn’t need to be refilled. Just water away. Drown your crops if you want to, but you won’t be running to a well to refill! Of course, using tools costs stamina, much like every other game out there, too. And surely we’ve all been there when we’re mining rocks and just completely miss the rock we wanted to obliterate. Well, in this game, missing your mark doesn’t cost you stamina. It’s great to not be punished for your goof ups! 

    Blue Oak Bridge also doesn’t waste your stamina when you’re reached 0. Many farm sims will have you pass out and start the next day with less than full stamina, but not this one! Once your stamina reaches 0, that’s it. That’s where it stays. If you try to perform an action that costs stamina when you’re already at 0, the action just doesn’t happen. There’s no wasting stamina and no overdoing it! Both made the game that much more pleasant. 

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, Blue Oak Bridge isn’t a bad game. It’s pretty and has some unique things to set it apart. It also appears the developer is still working to add to it, which is great. I just didn’t connect with the story or felt the desire to track down characters to get to know them because the map is so obnoxious. Poor controls make things difficult, too. I want to love this game, as it feels like it has potential, but falls short in my eyes. 

    I give this one

    You can find Blue Oak Bridge on Steam.

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  • svgJan 10, 2024Reviews

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    The year is 1986 and you play as Meredith Weiss as she takes a step back from her busy tech career to deliver mail in her hometown. Lake follows Meredith as she returns to her lovely home town of Providence Oaks, Oregon, a sleepy lake-side town with just a few residents. You’re filling in for your dad for the next two weeks as you explore the town and get to know the residents. Some are friendly new faces, and some are familiar pals you grew up with. Deliver mail during the day, then spend your after work hours keeping to yourself or hanging out with friends. There are no wrong or right answers in this game, but they all shape your experience! 

    Gameplay

    I found Lake to be somewhat frustrating at first. You walk SO slowly, and there’s not a ton to do besides deliver mail and talk to people. Then I realized, that’s the point. In a world full of high adrenaline platformers and fighting games, this one forces you to slow down and enjoy the simple things in the world around you. There are no cell phones or modern computers to distract you. You deliver mail in a gorgeous town, build relationships with the townspeople, and just take in the scenery. Plus, driving around is fun, and the autopilot feature allows for some great sightseeing. 

    This is an ideal walking simulator, really. The mountains in the distance paired with the lovely wooded areas of town, and the idyllic small-town are so peaceful and perfect to just stroll through. The sun shining adds a relaxing atmosphere to the unhurried little town. Plus, there’s no timer or clock to compete with. Lake doesn’t have you on a schedule to deliver to each house by a certain time or within a certain limit. You can just get to it when you get to it, so take the scenic route around the lake! When you’ve finished your mail route and any side tasks you want to complete, you can return to the post office to end the day. Then, you’ll have the chance to hang out with friends or chill out at home. Rinse and repeat. 

    Graphics and Audio

    The graphics in the game aren’t top tier, mind-blowing by any means. However, the scenery is still beautiful. Providence Oaks is adorable, and driving through some of the tree-lined roads is highly cathartic. Lake’s homes and their yards border on perfection, which makes them a little too cookie-cutter, but they’re well designed. The character’s facial features seem a little plastic as only the eyes and mouth move, but they’re always well dressed. The clothing choices often scream ‘80s, which helps with setting the time period. Otherwise, there isn’t a ton that makes the game feel like it’s in the ‘80s besides some of the movie posters at the rental store. 

    As for the audio, Lake’s mail truck is equipped with a radio that plays country-pop songs. Thankfully, you can toggle the radio on and off, because the songs are far from my idea of enjoyable. They often were too loud for my tastes, too. I would have much preferred some ambient muzak or lo-fi jams, but these songs are fairly on-brand for the time. They felt overpowering, though. The music didn’t fade into the background and mix with the scenery to create the perfect relaxing experience. 

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, I really enjoyed Lake. It was relaxing and set in a gorgeous area. I know many people had issues with glitches early on, but I’m guessing they’ve been patched out by now as I had no issues. Engaging in a short story delivered through character interactions made it easy to learn who people were while getting some backstory on Meredith, too. Plus, no timer or clock lets me chill out and explore and get things done at my own pace. It really allowed me to just take in the scenery. 

    If you enjoy walking simulators with little to do gameplay-wise, and enjoy slower games, this is for you! 

    I give it:

    You can find Lake on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation.

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