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.
Sprout Valley is a sweet little farming simulator where you play as Nico, an adorable cat character. Take a step back from your busy life to live a simple life growing the garden of your dreams. Spend your days gathering resources and growing crops. Harvest and sell your crops, and use the resources you find to improve your relaxing island life. Even discover friends and interesting events as you live your life on the island!
Veil of Dust: A Homestead Game is a farming simulator seeking to turn the genre on its head. Inspired by the likes of Stardew Valley and Don’t Starve, this game is a historically-grounded fantasy homesteading and survival game with a more adult-oriented gameplay. You’ll play as the Callahan siblings, Shane and Áine, as they learn to cope with loss and learn how to survive life in the desert of eastern Oregon.
With a more task-centric focus, and less grinding, Veil of Dust sets you on an adventure to explore magic, intrigue, small town politics, and more. You’ll farm, forage, and hunt to scrape together the resources and food necessary to survive. Overcome challenges with tools you craft, and fill bellies with different recipes you’ve scraped together, as well as forge relationships. Survival isn’t just about finding food and shelter, after all. Life needs to be worth living, too! Experience deep characterizations and explore realistic, relatable scenarios that touch on heavier topics.
Veil of Dust isn’t devoid of humor and fun, though! Guide Shane and Áine as they search for answers as to why mysterious monsters attack their town and livelihoods. While defense wasn’t always a priority, you might need to protect your homestead from them. The homestead you’ve carefully made your very own by lovingly choosing the perfect colors, turning your inhospitable dirt patch into a comfortable home.
I’ve previously played the cute Everdream Valley, and written a review. At the time, the game was far from a finished product. It was pretty empty and had some other issues. Even as I wrote the review, the devs, Mooneaters, added some features that improved the quality of life of the game. And now, they’ve released a roadmap of new features they intend to work on implementing!
October brings a great update that includes fast travel! One of my chief complaints was how big the Everdream Valley map is, making adventuring a little tiresome because running everywhere was the only option. The developers have been listening, though, and fast travel is certainly an exciting new addition that will improve the game. The fun doesn’t stop there, though. You’ll get access to a new lawnmower tool that allows you to tidy up lawns and hedges. Which sounds like a great way to further decorate and personalize your farm. You’ll be getting new plants to decorate with too! Add some charm and vibrancy to your little farm with a riot of natural colors.
Then there’s my favorite part. A Halloween event! Get spooky with fun new items and decorations. Even get dressed up in costumes. I can’t wait for that. There’s nothing like making your home cozy with pumpkins and ghosts. Perhaps the best update, however, if the addition of multiplayer! That’s right, you and your friends will be able to team up to play Everdream Valley together. There’s no word now on how many people can play in multiplayer as the feature is currently in beta, but even just making it two players would be great.
As for the rest of the intended updates, here’s the list straight from Everdream Valley’s Steam page:
Alpaca Rancher is a sweet 2D game where you raise alpacas! This casual life sim lets you explore the world where you’ll meet fun new characters. They’ll even assign you quests. Discover helpful items that make traveling easier, and even find some zen locations perfect for relaxing in.
While you explore Alpaca Rancher, you’ll come across all sorts of stylish alpacas. Help them find a cozy home by taming them and taking them to your ranch. Take care of them by feeding, brushing, and shearing them. You can then sell their wool so you can buy upgrades to your farm buildings.
Also spend time foraging for food, seeds, and other resources while you explore Alpaca Rancher. You’ll be able to plant those seeds on your farm to grow a variety of crops. Water them and use fertilizer to help them grow into the highest quality food. Feed those crops to your alpacas to help them grow higher quality wool, which will earn you more money.
Create a cozy and prosperous little ranch where your alpacas will be happy!
Alpaca Rancher does not have a release date listed. However, you can find it on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist.
Want another creature collection game? Check out Bug & Seek, a bug catching game.
Moonfrost is an upcoming free-to-play farming sim, and it is beautiful! How you play and where your journey will take you is completely up to you. You’ll start by customizing your very own character. Decide how you want to look, or who it is you want to create, then embark on your big adventure. Meet a growing cast of characters that range from legendary heroes, ancient evils, and lovable souls. Build friendships as well as find someone to fall in love with!
You’ll also have your very own home and farmstead to care for. Build a beautiful house and decorate it to match your tastes. Plant crops, harvest produce, and care for animals. Moonfrost also has fishing and resource gathering. And if you get bored of farming, go on an adventure through an ever-expanding world where you’ll come across secrets and experience the familiar and the fantastical!
Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island is the sequel to Pretty Princess Party, and just as cutesy, magical, and pretty as the other. Only this time, you play as a princess who’s trying to revitalize a once flourishing island. You have full control over designing the island, as well.
Raise livestock to receive animal products to use in recipes. Grow crops and flowers. Manufacture other necessary items to craft beautiful dresses, hair styles, makeup, and decorations. Complete requests from visitors to earn money and points that level you up. You’ll unlock new buildings, decorations, and wearables as you level.
Decorate and Garden and Decorate Some More!
Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island looks a lot like Animal Crossing, honestly. You’re on an island that you get to design and decorate. You’re in charge of fixing it up without help, and there’s fruit picking and fishing to be done. Even the look of the map is Animal Crossing-esque. However, Garden Island successfully set itself apart, I think.
There’s mining, farming, even animals to look after, and you have functional craft houses and restaurants that produce different kinds of food. There’s a functional element to the game that gives me a reason to play beyond just decorating. Garden Island’s livestock aren’t needy, they’re simply a building you place, you feed them, then they produce items. Farming is easy, too. You buy seeds, plant them, and wait! There’s a cute little chime that plays when a crop grows to maturity, too. So don’t go into this thinking you’ll have a Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon experience. You won’t. It’s just what ACNH should have done with crops.
There is a timer to making items, however. The base time is five minutes, though they can be up to ten minutes. These timers apply to crops, the animals, crafting buildings, and restaurants. When I first encountered this mechanic, I thought it would get annoying fast. That wasn’t the case, though. I found that there’s enough to do around Garden Island that I’d get swept up in something else and not even realize five or ten minutes had passed.
The best aspect, and probably the main aspect of Garden Island, though, is the decorating. Decorate yourself, change your hair, slap on some makeup and hair bows, then go pretty up the island. It’s almost overwhelming how many incredible options for decorating there are. From pretty and cutesy to gothic, to normal garden and cottagecore styles, you shouldn’t have trouble picking out the perfect pieces to use. The excitement of this is a little offset by the need to craft dyes and other materials to use to buy the decor. However, you can place multiple of one building to have a whole crafting set-up going so it’s really not a huge issue.
Despite the minor gripes, I really, really enjoy Pretty Princess Magical Garden Island. It’s fun and simple and forgiving. I can pick it up for a little while to fill some time, or I can marathon it all day. I can create beautiful water themed areas or spooky gothic and Halloween displays. Or, if I’m feeling in the mood, deck the whole place out in bright pinks befitting a pretty princess. The purposeful crafting and fulfilling order really gives me a sense of accomplishment, too. It makes me want to play because I have to earn levels to unlock more stuff, and craft items to get that stuff.
Humble Bundle is a great resource for the thrifty gamer with their bundle offers. Pick a bundle, then choose what you wish to pay. It’s a great way to grab a bunch of games for cheap. Right now, Humble Bundle has a Cozy Games bundle perfect for trying out a bunch of games you may have had your eye on! And these are all worthy of playing. They’re cute, cozy, and wholesome. Some feature powerful stories, while some are just perfect for kicking back and relaxing with.
This offer ends in 20 days, so take your time to decide, but don’t let it pass by!
Cat Cafe Manager
Cat Cafe Manager has you taking over your grandmother’s derelict cafe in the sleepy town of Caterwaul Way. Restore the cafe, renovate it, and decorate it as you wish, turning it into an inviting home for the plethora of cats that call Caterwaul Way home. Hire employees to help manage the cafe, and explore the village to befriend the inhabitants and learn new recipes.
Witchy Life Story
In Witchy Life Story you’re the youngest member of the magical von Teasel family, but you’re not exactly their pride and joy. In fact, you have one more chance to prove yourself or your witch training is over. So, you arrive in the village of Flora to try and save their harvest festival. You have two weeks to make it a success. So, gather herbs, brew potions, get to know the townspeople, and even cast some spells. Maybe cause a little chaos, even.
Here Comes Niko
Play as the adorable Niko, who’s just become a professional friend for Tadpole Inc. in Here Comes Niko! You’ll explore different scenic islands while making friends with people you come across. Complete requests for them by catching fish and bugs, solving puzzles, and even just listening to them. If you’re lucky, they’ll pay you and you can then invest in a train system to get to new islands!
Welcome to the Grove! You’re its new guardian, and it’s your duty to rebuild the village and uncover the story of its past. Garden Story is a chill wholesome game where you’ll complete quests to defend against encroaching Rot, gather resources, restore, and improve the town. There’s even a way to turn off combat to make it even cozier to play!
Lemon Cakeis an adorable little game about restoring a run-down, haunted bakery. Grow fruit and care for animals, who provide ingredients for your bakery. Repair, furnish, and decorate every room to create an inviting little business. Mix and bake up some fantastic recipes, and maybe even convince the ghost to help you out!
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
Join Alba as she visits her grandparents on a once-beautiful Mediterranean island in Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. She’s ready to explore the island with her friend Ines, but when she sees an animal in trouble, she realizes she needs to help it. As Alba, you’ll start a whole campaign to clean up the island! Convince the townspeople to help out and gather volunteers to restore the island and help the wildlife.
A Short Hike
A Short Hike is about exactly that, hiking! Spend time in the peaceful mountainside of Hawk Peak Park simply exploring. Hike the marked trails or explore the wild back country. Climb some rocky cliffs. Glide over lush landscapes. Take your time to absorb the beautiful surroundings and meet other hikers. Perhaps you can help each other out. Even discover some treasures!
Assemble With Care
Assemble with Care features a meaningful, evocative story line about Maria, a globe-trotting antique restorer as she arrives in Bellariva. She wants to help the inhabitants fix their personal items, but discovers it’s their personal lives that are starting to fracture. It’s harder to fix those, but she’s determined to help. You’ll solve puzzles by fixing items brought to her, meet the townsfolk, and tune into a lovely soundtrack inspired by the 80s.
65% off Coupon for Haven Park
Unfortunately, Haven Park isn’t included in this bundle, just a lovely 65% off coupon! It’s a great discount for such a cute game where you play as Flint, who has just taken over his grandmother’s beloved park. He wants to make it a park campers will love, so it’s up to you to help him out. Fulfill each camper’s wishes and build whatever their hearts desire. Happy campers will attract more business, which means more quirky characters for you to talk to and enjoy!