We’re another week closer to Christmas and I can’t wait! I love going around the neighborhood looking at people’s decorations. I think that’s part of why ACNH having lights in trees feels so satisfying to me. What else is super exciting about the Christmas season, is the new gaming systems and games you get! And with Steam Decks being fairly popular, what better way to celebrate the approach of the holiday with some gift ideas for that system?
The following list only features games that have been Steam Deck verified, to save the gamer in your life some troubles and heartache!
My Time at Sandrock
My Time at Sandrock is the long awaited sequel to My Time at Portia. And just like the prequel, this one takes place in a post-apocalyptic world 330 years after the Day of Calamity destroyed a lot of modern technology. You accept the role as a builder of Sandrock, a desert community. Gather resources to build machines, befriend locals, fight enemies, and lead the town to economic prosperity! Uncover the backstories for over 30 NPCs while you forge friendships with them. Complete side quests, play fun minigames, and even team up with a friend to play the game together!
APICO is a lovely game where you leave your boring city job and return to Port APICO, where you grew up, and return to your beekeeping roots. The APICO islands feature a set of lush, beautiful environments for you to explore. Each biome has its own breed of bees for you to discover. Gather resources to use in your studies or crafting. Make and sell Apicola (honey) and other beekeeping items you will discover. Play fun beekeeping minigames, without the stings! More importantly, breed different cross breeds of bees and discover 30 new species to help repopulate the APICO islands with. Plus, uncover the secrets of the islands while you explore.
I even have a review of APICO here, if you want more information!
Cornucopia offers the same comfortable features players have grown to love from the farming game genre, but in a lovely 2.5D pixel art style. You plant 52 types of fruit trees, 15 types of berry bushes, and grow 52 different crops, including their different artisan varieties. Sell crops or cook them up in one of 200 different recipes! There’s also logging, fishing, mining, and pet breeding to occupy your days. Also enter the pets into competitive races or use them to help you fight monsters. Then, kick back and relax with some crafting and decorating. Unlock furniture and decorations to turn your farm into your favorite getaway. Make friends with Cornucopia’s NPCs, too. Who knows, maybe one of the over 47 NPCs will catch your fancy! Romance them, go on dates, and unlock their romantic cut scenes. Even marry one, start a family, and decorate their room in your house.
While the Iron’s Hot
Play as a simple journeyman blacksmith in While the Iron’s Hot. You’re looking to become a master blacksmith. This game features an exciting combat-free experience. Journey to the mystical lands of Ellian where you’ll 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!
In Loddlenaut, you play as an interstellar custodian who has been hired by the spacefaring mega corporation GUPPI to clean up their mess. They’ve inundated GUP-14 with pollution, and want you to restore the planet. This is an open-world ocean adventure where you’ll get to explore this beautiful alien planet, along with the corporate ruins of GUPPI. You’ll find remnants of their buildings, ships, and machinery that have all sunken to the bottom of the game’s ocean. Use your bubble gun, clean up the trash, remove oil spills, and uncover clues about the past inhabitants. Unlock better gadgets to help you clean up different types of ocean pollution. Recycle the trash you collect and use it to craft items. Even befriend cute little axolotl-looking creatures called loddles!
Witchy Life Story is a vibrant visual novel where you play as a sassy witch sent to save a town’s harvest festival. You have exactly two weeks to work your magic (literally) and help the residents of Flora with their problems so they can make the festival a success. Reside in a small house outfitted with witchy items, and tend to the small garden attached to the house. Collect plants and flowers from that garden to use in your spells and rituals. Your choices matter, too. Take time to get to know the villagers and carefully help them, or perhaps cause some chaos instead! And who knows, you might find a little love in your short stay.
The Story and Characters
I am absolutely enamored by Witchy Life Story. It’s a short little game, but it is abundantly clear the developers put a lot of love into it. The story is sweet and simple, but so engaging. The characters are wonderfully crafted, too. Your own character is sassy and witty, with an outgoing personality. You’ve been sent to Flora because their “I’m a genius” attitude has gotten them in plenty of trouble. You need to prove to your teacher, aka grandmother, that you are worthy of finishing witch training.
Your dialogue throughout the game proves just how salty you are about this predicament. Additionally, the different characters with their own, varied personalities and it makes for a really fun visual novel experience. Some are lovable, some are reserved, and others have anxieties and troubles that make them super relatable. Witchy Life Story blends the fantasy witch life with real-life problems like a lack of confidence in your leadership abilities, or worrying over all the work that you need to get done by a deadline. It brings a sense of familiarity while still making things magical and fantasy.
I enjoy the choices that can be made throughout the game, too. During your conversations with the villagers, you can pick responses. These responses and choices shape the path you take in Witchy Life Story. Run through the story playing the contrite little student witch and put all your effort into appeasing the villagers. Conversely, cause a little chaos like the mad genius you really are! Better yet, do both. Run through the story a few times to discover some fun differences as you sow chaos in the village, and even romance different characters.
Aside from the wonderful story and great characters, Witchy Life Story really nails the art, too. It’s beautifully enchanting. The village is equally charming and inviting. The character designs are cute and everyone has their own personal style. There isn’t much to do outside of tending the garden, crafting spells, and talking to the villagers. It’s a visual novel, after all. The story is the focus, and it really shines in this game. Overall, it’s a gorgeous, heartwarming experience that I’d recommend everyone play! I can’t recommend it enough.
dotAGE has you playing as the Elder of a village who has had visions of a doomed future. You take a handful of your villagers, called Pips, to seek out a new valley to settle in the hopes of overcoming these dooms. You need to guide them in working hard to prepare for what these dooms have in store.
With worker placement mechanics inspired by board games, dotAGE’s turn-based roguelike survival has you building a brand new village to suit your villagers’ needs and their survival. Each turn you can assign each Pip to a specific task like collecting food, chopping wood, or healing ailments. You can also train them in different professions as you upgrade your buildings to bigger and more useful things. You need to be careful and thoughtful in how you place your buildings as managing resources is imperative to survival. Once you end your turn, the Domains will take their turn and unleash increasingly powerful events on your village!
Can you survive them all and find out what’s causing the apocalypse?
Simple, but Wildly Engaging
When I say this game is addictive, I mean it’s addictive. It’s one of those games where you can pick it up and put it down at any moment because it regularly auto-saves, which makes it great for killing a few minutes of time. However, I’ve sat down fully intending to pay dotAGE for all of 20 minutes, and find myself still playing two hours later repeating “just one more turn” to myself.
Visually and game-play wise, it’s a really simple game. dotAGE has a cute pixel graphic style and simple sound effects. Plus, you navigate the research menu to unlock new buildings to build. Navigate the build menu to pick what to build. Click an already existing building to assign a Pip to a job. Then, click End Turn to advance the day. That’s it. There is the Agepedia which logs the different buildings, events, Pip traits, etc that you come across while playing, but that isn’t necessary for playing. It’s not a super complicated game, but succeeds in holding my attention for chunks of time!
And if you’re a fan of ActRaiser? Then perhaps you should try out this game. It has a very similar feel to it with the city building aspect.
There are difficulty levels you can choose from, which really makes dotAGE great. I’ve been playing an Easy campaign and still having a hard time keeping up with the dooms! However, it’s a great place to start to learn how to play the game and get a feel for what it’s like. Then, as you become accustomed to it, you can move to the harder difficulties. It’s perfect for testing your resource management and survival skills and challenging yourself!
There are games that I play through and remove from my computer to free up space. Many of those games I’ve loved, and will likely play again. Stardew Valley, Terraria, Core Keeper, and Raft being the main ones. Then there are games that live on my computer indefinitely because I can, and will, pick them up randomly to play. They’re essentially immortalized in my head and on my desktop. dotAGE is now one of those. I struggled hard to finish my first campaign, having up to 31 Pips only to end the game with 8, but I loved absolutely every second of this game.
Lonesome Village is a relaxing puzzle-solving life sim where you play as the adorable Wes, a coyote. Wes is looking to solve the mystery of this empty village and the tower that popped up. You’ll enter that tower to complete a number of different puzzles in order to free the villagers trapped on each level. As you do that, the story of what happened will unfold, and it’ll be up to you to stop the evil that threatens it all.
There is no doubt that Lonesome Village is uber adorable. The art is wildly cute, and each character you save is some variety of animal. Each has a great individual design. Even the main character, who’s a little coyote character dressed like Link. Even the overworld designs of each area you can explore are cute. Overall, this game is visually great.
The puzzle tower is a fun concept. You’re tasked with rescuing the villagers of the world, and to do that you need to complete a puzzle on each floor. Completing the puzzle releases villagers from the statues they’ve been encased in. Sometimes it’s just one character, sometimes it’s a whole family of characters. The puzzles aren’t super hard, which is perfect for having a relaxing game play experience. Some of them make you think harder than others, but none of them had me stumped for too long. I enjoyed the variety of puzzles, too. It wasn’t repetitive rehashing of the same ones over and over.
The day/night cycle doesn’t affect things like sleep, either. I found that to be a nice touch. It adds ambiance and life to the world, but doesn’t lock you into a specific way to play. There’s no running to bed to beat the inevitable 2am pass out, like some other life sims!
Coronya and Quests
I’m afraid that despite mostly liking Lonesome Village, my cons list is longer than the pros. True to early Legend of Zelda vibes, you’re equipped with a mirror item that allows you to talk to your fairy companion, Coronya. This is a great way to have a reminder of what you were doing as far as the story goes, as there is no quest log. However, she likes to pop up from time to time at the shrine levels of the tower. These levels require you to find the item the shrine requests and place it there in order to open the door to the next floor of the tower.
Coronya likes to pop up on these levels to talk to you about what the item is and how to get it. That’s cool, and often useful. However, she then returns to wherever she comes from, and must discuss EXACTLY what she just said, word-for-word, via the mirror. She’s also adamant about telling you that you must save everyone in the tower, so don’t forget to do that! It’s all so unnecessary. The point of the game is to release people from the tower. And I certainly don’t need an exact repeat of what was just said, right after it’s said. I would have preferred a quest log.
Which brings me to the fetch quests you get from villagers. Lonesome Village’s newly released inhabitants will have quests for you to complete. It’s how you’ll earn hearts to continue through the tower. Talk to a villager and they immediately launch into their quest, then it immediately opens your inventory so you can complete the quest, even if it’s your first time hearing about the quest. Just be sure to write down what it is you’re looking for if you go accept multiple quests. Again, there’s no quest log to keep up with what needs to be done. It made for a frustrating time when I’d pick the game back up and had to go around talking to people to figure out where I was in my fetch quest endeavors.
There is No Autosave and Storage is Lacking
I repeat, there is no auto save. Maybe I’m spoiled by modern games, but I expect autosave to be the standard in games these days. Having the ability to also save at will is great too, but autosave has saved me so much trouble over the years. Lonesome Village doesn’t even have the sleep to save mechanics like Stardew Valley. Instead, you have to visit one of the statues scattered across the map to save. I don’t have words for the frustration I felt when I thought I’d saved, but hadn’t and closed the game. I was set back several floors of the towers, and several villager quests.
Backpack size is woefully tiny. Access to the storage chest isn’t super convenient. There’s a chest in your house, your tent, and in the tower elevator. Sifting through storage is fiddly, at best. Everything shows up in a line that you have to scroll through to find what you need. The backpack is the same way when turning in quest items. Plus, there is one hotkey slot, so you have to go into your backpack, choose the item you want to hotkey, then use the item. It makes switching tools cumbersome and slow.
I’d still recommend this game overall. It’s cute and chill. There’s no rush to complete things, so you can play at your own pace. Plus, there’s no stamina drain or health to lose, adding another layer for a stress-free experience.
Yaruul’s family inn has been stolen by the evil wizard landlord, Colin. You must reclaim the family’s legacy by managing the inn solo or with your friends. Brew potions, dispel curses, catch fish, cook food, and fight negative influences. Prove you’re a better innkeeper than the evil wizard by making the inn a success! Innchanted is a heartfelt and hectic adventure set in a fantasy universe inspired by Indigenous Australian tales.
Pick from four different, adorable playable characters and cooperate with your team or even an AI companion to run this magic inn. Innchanted’s AI can be assigned to serve customers, refill potion stations, or defend against thieves. Serving customers includes cooking meat or dispensing potions, too. They’re quite useful for filling in when you’re playing solo or even with a second person. The AI is a little slow moving, as they can’t dash like player characters can, but that only adds a little bit of challenge without overwhelming you, I think.
Plus, the layout changes every day, so you never know what obstacles you’ll face! You’ll encounter different challenges across Innchanted’s 50+ unique levels while serving patrons. One level may be wide open and easy to navigate, while the next has counters that move every so often meaning the level layout changes while you play. And don’t forget about the thieving birds waiting in the tree outside for the opportunity to take off with a slab of meat. Don’t leave your items unattended for too long!
Use your hard-earned shells to upgrade your inn. Make grills cook faster. Increase your team’s efficiency. Even unlock decorations to beautify your inn. From fun wall flags to pretty rugs, you’ll find over 60 decorative items in Innchanted to beautify your inn to give it that personal touch. And at night, take time to unwind, speak with other characters, make important choices that will affect your next day, and practice new mechanics you’ve learned.
Innchanted is a challenging, but fun adventure akin to Overcooked. It’s perfect for playing with friends! It doesn’t present the same frenetic, frantic player experience as Overcooked, though. It feels a little more chill and laid back, while still being silly and fun. It’s a cute little game that I’d recommend to anyone for some fun, though.
Blue Gravity was kind enough to provide a copy of Little Sim World for me to play!
I received a pre-alpha demo version of Little Sim World to play, which means I got an early view of a game that is growing bigger and better nearly weekly. What I saw, however, was already incredibly promising.
What Is It?
Little Sim World is an adorable life sim that draws inspiration from popular games like The Sims, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Pokemon. You are in charge of your very own little cartoon-looking sim person. Start the game by creating one using a number of customization options (with more to come later!), like hairstyles and color, clothing, and facial attributes. Then, pick out different personality traits like favorite foods and quirks. After that, you’re released into the world of London and set in front of your very dingy new home.
Really dingy. Your fence is broken in spots and the paint is flaking. The front door and windows have seen better days. The appliances in the kitchen are dirty and barely fit to use. At least the furniture looks worn, but comfortable and cozy. Your computer, however, looks like the old dinosaurs from way back when that ran Windows ‘95.
Worry not, though! You receive a meager paycheck from unemployment benefits that you can use to survive and maybe even fix up your new home. Or, you can hop on that ancient computer of yours and search for a new job! Pick from one of five career paths like athlete, culinary, science, journalist, or painter. Detective is also listed, but either isn’t available yet, or I haven’t reached an appropriate milestone to unlock it. Either way, you’ll Start with basic jobs like professional fan, dishwasher, lab cleaner, greeting card wordsmith, and brush washer. As you level up in skills and traits, you’ll be able to earn promotions that will get your better pay. Better pay means better food, clothes, and house decorations!
There isn’t too much to the city just yet, but it’s beautifully drawn and animated. There aren’t any transition screens, either, so moving from one activity or building to another is smooth making it feel like a big open world for you to explore. No waiting on a silly dark screen with a loading bar!
You’ll find several useful stores spread throughout London. Buy groceries needed to cook and level up your cooking skills with. Or trot on over to Simon’s Pub for some spirits and ready made meals. Get furniture from Futon Furniture and flooring or wallpaper from D&Y. Berry’s Electronics has all your appliance needs, while Banana21 Apparel provides for all your clothing needs!
Not in the mood for shopping? Head to the gym to get your sweat on. Or go to the library to relax with a good book that’ll level your skills. Perhaps you need to edit your sim’s profile? Pay the Royal Snail a visit and take care of that real quick. The nearby museum is worth a visit, too. You’ll be able to donate items you’ve found to replenish the exhibits, as well as collect stamps for accomplishments. Throw in cars and busses driving around, as well as other people walking along the sidewalks, and London is full of life and things to do!
The design aspect of Little Sim World is super simple. You buy the elements you want from the shops, like wallpaper from D&Y. Then, while at home, you’ll enter the build menu which is laid out in an easy, intuitive manner. There’s a remove tool to not only remove walls and items, but to get some money back for them. You click the design element you want to work with, like wallpaper, and you can click each individual wall you want papered.
Or click and drag to cover the whole room. It’s easy to change whole rooms in this manner. Just be sure you have enough money. Buying the design at the shop merely unlocks the use of it. Placing it costs money too!Placing items is just as easy, too. Select the furniture you want to work with and simply click to place it where you want.
This part of the game is so easy and so simple to learn and do. It was fun designing my sim’s home instead of it being a chore. Switching flooring or rearranging furniture is quick and painless. I can foresee many, many hours spent simply building a fun house.
Little Sim World isn’t just all about the fun shopping sprees and exploring, though. Your sim is essentially a real person. They need to eat, drink, and use the toilet. Bathing is essential to a happy and healthy sim, too. Of course entertainment and exercise needs should be looked after as well.
It’s up to you to fulfill all those needs, and I have to say, that’s a full time job on its own. Maybe it’s because I like to push things instead of balancing my time appropriately, but my sim always feels like it’s starving or needs a shower. Learning to balance my time between working, cooking, having fun, and other needs will take some practice. The challenge is fun, though. It doesn’t feel like a hindrance, but an aspect to rise up to and overcome.
Little Sim World has quite a few other game elements that aren’t included in this early version. Finding love, traveling the city via car, bus, or underground, even having a roommate if you want to play with a friend. And if they implement those with the same care and effort as they’ve done with the rest of what’s in the demo, it’ll be excellent! One of the planned additions is the ability to choose Identity attributes. You’ll distribute points among attributes like smart, health, charm, courage, energy, and luck. I suspect these will help determine how well your sim does in their romantic relationships, as well as maybe their job, and overall life.
There is constantly something to do. Care for the sim’s needs, get them to work on time, and fulfilling tasks are all just what’s available in the demo. Add in romance and whatever exciting new features that are planned for Little Sim World, and it’ll be hard to be bored with the game.
As for designing your home and clothing options, the demo has a limited view of each. I imagine Little Sim World will have a much larger variety of everything upon release and I can’t wait. The clothes and design items are already great. I look forward to even more variety for cute or dark aesthetics!
I for one cannot wait for the full release of Little Sim World. It’s bound to be an adorably great time.
This lovely little game is projected to come out in the beginning of 2024! You can find it on Steam now to add it to your Wishlist.
The spirit of the forest has transferred you to the parallel dimension of Firefly Cove. You’re warmly welcomed by the citizens of this magical town where whispers of a legend come true. Some legends say there is one powerful enough to restore the balance of nature spirits, become a dragon kin, and uncover the secrets of the dragon ruins. Will that be you? Can you learn magic, become a great magician, and make this mysterious place your home?
Hotaru Village is where you find your new home in Firefly Cove. There, you can befriend the villagers and learn the stories. You can even go on adventures with them. Take part in seasonal village celebrations throughout the year like Dance of the fireflies, too. Develop different skills like farming, foraging, mining, magic and more. Even hone your magical abilities like water-bending, and show those skills off to the Dragon Temple.
Firefly Cove is even co-op! Team up in multiplayer mode to restore balance to nature spirits with your friends. Cross-play and split-screen are both available.
Firefly Cove is coming soon. You can find it on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist!
Welcome to Sugar Shack, located at the center of a world that’s stuck in an eternal spring. There, you’ve become the owner of a cute little restaurant where you’ll sell some sweet treats to the townspeople. Tap trees to collect maple syrup, harvest berries, and even grow some crops to use as ingredients in your goods.
As you play, you’ll receive hex tiles to place in order to expand the town. Place each tile how you want to create a fully customized town layout. Each tile interacts with the ones around it with positive or negative effects, so place them wisely. Play Sugar Shack solo or with up to 4 players to collaborate and split the chores. Each player even gets their own room they can decorate to their personal tastes.
You can find Sugar Shack on Steam, though it has no release date yet.
Give Puff Pals a look, too, for a cute village sim experience.