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).
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.
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.