In While the Iron’s Hot, you play as a simple journeyman blacksmith looking to become a master. And it’s your turn to join the legendary artisans who have gathered in Ellian to learn and perfect their craft. Embark on a crafting adventure full of mystery, treasures, puzzling, and, of course, blacksmithing!
While the Iron’s Hot features an exciting combat-free experience. Journey to the mystical lands of Ellian to 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!
While the Iron’s Hot releases on Steam December 5th!
Spells & Secrets is a captivating rogue-lite adventure where you use a number of spells to fight your way through dungeon levels. You’re a first-year student at the esteemed wizard Academy of Greifenstein, eager to learn together with your fellow magic users. However, something odd has happened to the school on your very first day there. It’s now over-run by magical creatures, and of course it’s up to you to defeat those creatures, save your classmates, and save the school.
Start your magical adventure by creating your very own character with Spells & Secret’s comprehensive character creator. Select a body type and height that suits your vision, then craft the perfect eyes with shape, color, and makeup. Choose skin color, mix and match hair colors with different hairstyles, and pick clothing that suits your style. There’s even accessories to complete the look! Once you’ve created your perfect character, set out on a fun, spell-slinging adventure as you explore the castle’s ever-changing layout.
Use your arsenal of spells creatively to defeat enemies and overcome puzzles. Fling tables or use bolts of magic. Stun creatures or sneak past as a cute little mouse. Even find powerful artifacts throughout Spells & Secrets to enhance your abilities. Buy new spells and upgrade old ones by speaking to your professors. Uncover clues and secrets about the magical world as you explore the castle and rescue your classmates. And if you’re tired of playing alone, invite a friend to play with you via local co-op or Steam remote play!
Have you ever dreamed about running your own restaurant while still seeing the world? In Catch and Cook, you can do both! You’re a skilled fisherman who gets to explore a beautiful world full of exciting locales. Explore a variety of gorgeous areas like icy landscapes and whimsical islands. Even take a moment to watch the world under the waves teeming with life. Schools of fish swim around, sunken ships lay in the sands, and even discover treasure chests!
Catch a variety of fish through four different methods. Fish with a fishing rod, put out crab pots, throw a net, or even use a harpoon to catch different kinds of fish. In Catch and Cook, you’ll discover the different fishing methods as you explore, and overcome each area’s set of challenges. Once you’ve gathered your haul, combine them with ingredients you’ve purchased from the villages to create tasty recipes. Experiment with different ingredients to discover incredible new dishes.
You can find Catch and Cook, the cute fishing adventure, now on Steam!
For another fishing-focused game, I can’t recommend DREDGE enough. It’s spooky, but not too spooky and has chill vibes all around.
We currently have Palia, the cozy MMO with zero combat and a focus on some pretty neat world lore. This was released in open beta in August of this year. Then there’s Loftia, a cute solarpunk cozy MMO whose early access isn’t coming until 2025! Now, there’s another possible cozy MMO to keep an eye on.
WorldShards is a sandbox MMORPG set in a fantasy world. What was once a prosperous world inhabited by cat creatures called meowkle, a terrible catastrophe shattered the land. Then, evil wargs attacked. Now the world is made up of numerous flying islands, and you’ll have to explore these fragments, fight the wargs, and restore the meowkles to their former glory!
You’ll receive the use of your very own flying island to turn into your home base. There, you’ll be able to build a house to suit all of your WorldShards needs. Process resources you gather, access crafting stations to make equipment and weapons, and more. Even recruit a friendly meowkle friend to help you out around the house or in your adventures.
Otherwise, take time to explore a beautiful fantasy world full of stunning vistas. Discover the mysteries and secrets WorldShards has hidden in its islands. Set up a useful teleportation system to generate islands that will be useful to you and your play style. Even solve puzzles and complete quests. Gather various resources during your adventures that can be used in crafting or trading. Also go toe to toe with the evil wargs and their ruthless king to help save the world. Engage in stealth missions or defeat them in dynamic battles that depend on your play style.
WorldShards is currently being developed, but you can find the roadmap on their website. Early Access is intended for Q3 of this year, with a full release slated for Q3 of 2024! You can find it on Steam and Epic Games to add it to your Wishlist now!
Here’s another slightly spooky game perfect for this Halloween season! With its whimsical, cartoonish art style and light combat encounters, this game rides the line between spooky and goofy. Originally released on the Atari 2600 in 1982, the Steam version of Haunted House is an updated, re-imagined retelling of the original. You can even pre-order a special edition of the original game here if you’re interested!
In this modern Haunted House, you play as Lyn Graves, beloved niece of famous treasure hunter Zachary Graves. Lyn visits her uncle’s home with her closest friends, only to find the house overrun with ghouls and monsters. Those creatures quickly grab her friend and spirit them away, leaving Lyn alone to free her uncle, friends, and contain the monsters! To do this, she needs to find all of the pieces to a shattered magic urn and put it back together.
As you sneak through Haunted House, you’ll encounter procedurally generated rooms, walls that shift and move, and unique encounters. Each room you encounter will be a brand new experience. If you’re knocked out, you’ll restart at the foyer and face a totally new floor layout and enemy placement. You need to sneak, creep, and dash through the hordes of monsters and ectoplasm to find your friends and uncle. Think on your feet to complete challenges as you face them. As you find your friends, they become playable characters with their own set of stats. These different skills can come in handy as you delve deeper into the haunted mansion. So, who you adventure with will come with its own new experiences!
Garden Story is a wholesome adventure where you play as Concord the Grape. Tasked with the care of the kindergarten, where new townspeople are born, you quickly discover something’s not right. The vine that produces new people hasn’t done so in a long while, and it’s actually dried up. Then you’re thrust into the job of guardian, and tasked with saving The Grove. Adventure through 4 different areas to complete tasks and requests, forage a variety of items, fight off the Rot, and solve the mystery of why the rot are there and why the vine is dying!
Quests and Tasks
This is a very simple, easy to learn game and is pretty laid back. You can complete Garden Story at your own pace. So, if you want to rush through and finish the story line, then circle back to do some repairs and decorating, you can. Or maybe you want to complete a little of the story, then work on decorating, rinse and repeat, you can do that too! I love that about this game, because I often flip flop between the two play styles.
You will have main story related tasks to complete, but you’ll also have up to three daily tasks for the town you’re in. Completing these tasks will level up different stats for the town, which will unlock things like more weapons upgrades. Those weapons upgrades will become valuable later on. That said, I never completed a full line of upgrades on any of my weapons and was able to complete the story with no problems.
The main story is wholesome and compelling. You’re a tiny little guy who’s never seen the world, but suddenly you must venture out into and help everyone! Overcome the Rot and what’s causing it, help the villagers, and more. I didn’t think I’d ever care for a bunch of produce as much as I came to love and care for those in Garden Story. It’s carefully crafted and clearly has a sense of love embedded in the game.
That said, there IS combat. Your first weapon is a cute little item called a pick. It looks like a toothpick, and acts similar to a sword. It’s perfect for fighting off the blobs of grossness called the Rot. You’ll receive other weapons as you progress through the story and venture into each of the 4 areas of the island. Now, combat against the Rot isn’t particularly hard, especially as you upgrade your weapons. It’s also not always necessary. There are some instances where you need materials they drop, or a daily task wants you to defeat so many. Otherwise, you can just ignore them and walk on by.
Speaking of combat, there are boss battles. These boss battles are necessary to complete the story line, so if you dislike fighting in games, maybe skip this one. There are only 4, and they’re not wildly difficult. I did struggle with one until I upgraded my weapon, but after that it was easy peasy. You also get a shield that’s useful against ranged attacks.
As I’m writing this, I’m seeing there’s a “perish prevention” mode listed in the gameplay settings. This mode lets you forgo the stresses of combat. This mode also helps you with getting past difficult enemies and boss battles. I wish I’d seen that while I was playing. I bet that mode makes the whole experience SO much more cozy. So, if you want to play this game, but dislike combat, use “perish prevention”!
My Chief Complaints
Garden Story is one of those games where saves happen when you sleep for the night. Sleeping to save isn’t my favorite mechanic, but what I found really frustrating was that you can only go to sleep in the evenings in this game. Sometimes I just want to skip a day without running around all game-day, but that’s not possible here. Trying to sleep too early gives you the message “Concord isn’t tired yet”. Concord might not be tired, but I am!
This might just be me wanting to check out from using my brain when I play cozy games, but there was a lot of dialogue. It is how the story is delivered, but it felt like a little too much dialogue all at once. Some conversations were fairly long, I felt. Granted, those conversations deliver a heart-felt, heart-wrenching narrative that made me feel sad and hopeful for a bunch of produce! So they’re absolutely well-written and interesting. You get a good sense of the different personalities of the villagers you talk to, there’s just a lot of it.
Garden Story is absolutely adorable. I mean, you play as a tiny little grape named Concord who’s suddenly the guardian of all the islands. A tiny dude thrust into big things makes for a pretty compelling story. The graphics are cute, too, and there’s a nice, pleasing color palette. Plus, the background music is ambient and repetitive, but not annoying.
If you haven’t taken a moment to check out Dredge, let alone play it, you really should. I have a review here that you can read, but it’s a spooky, cozy fishing adventure that really nails just about everything. You play as the captain of your very own fishing trawler as you explore a set of mysterious and remote islands, as well as the deep sea that surrounds them. Sell what you catch to the local markets, and spend your hard-earned money on boat upgrades that will allow you to carry more cargo, go faster, and fish deeper. While you’re at it, unravel the mystery surrounding the islands by talking to the inhabitants and completing missions. Just, be careful about being out at night. You might not enjoy what lurks in the darkness.
The Latest Update
Dredge has already released one paid DLC, called Blackstone Key, which gives players access to the locked workshop on Blackstone island, as well as a new engine option and talisman. However, the devs have recently released a new free update! This is actually their third free update, and this update includes some fun stuff, plus bug fixes.
This new update for Dredge now lets players customize their boat! After you acquire the dredge crane as part of the main quest line, you can head on over to Little Marrow where a new character has set up shop. The Painter will be able to make adjustments to the appearance of your boat. He starts with some basic options, but you’ll be able to unlock more as you discover paint ingredients. Dig through the different shipwrecks, including the new ones added with this update, to find different flags. You can then take those flags to The Painter to have them recolored and displayed on your boat. The Painter will also allow you to change the bunting that’s displayed (the little garland of triangle flags), including the color of it, too.
The Painter being added is the biggest, and best part of this update. However, Dredge does now have crab aberrations, or crabberations as per the Steam update page. As well as a new filter to the Encyclopedia to display crabs, which brings me to the other two free updates. The first free update added map zoom and map pins, so you can set one of 50 markers in 6 different types on the map to have reminders for yourself. They can also be viewed through the Spyglass. The second free update added Photo Mode, so you can take pictures of the different creatures you come across. These include 10 new aberrations and 8 new types of wildlife, and now the crab aberrations! There’s also a Passive Mode, so you don’t have to worry about the things that lurk in the night for a more relaxing experience!
These are some great additions to an already great game. Plus, Dredge announced their next paid DLC, Ironhaven. This DLC will feature the mysterious Ironhaven Corporation who’s looking to establish a drilling operation in the area to revitalize the towns. Their ultimate goal, however, is unknown, and you may yet uncover it through meeting new characters and helping the company build its operation!
In Dolphin Spirit: Ocean Mission, you’re on holiday on the beautiful tropical island of Maupiroa. Your vacation isn’t going to be easy, but you have your grandpa to lean on for help, as well as the other island inhabitants! Embark on an amazing adventure to learn about the folklore and traditions of the island to save it from destruction. Immerse yourself in the heritage of your ancestors to uncover the secrets of the magic totems.
Dive into the depths of the sea and explore with your dolphin friend Keanu. Discover the hidden treasures as you explore the gorgeous, colorful underwater landscapes. You’ll learn about marine life and ecology. Take time to help the inhabitants of Dolphin Spirit: Ocean Mission with conservation efforts. Figure out how to preserve the endangered lives of marine life by using your powers. Even take pictures of all the critters you come across in to fill out your codex!