Thanks to the folks over at Gentle Troll Entertainment for an extended look demo!
If you love visual novels, and also love Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder, then look no further! Tavern Talk is described by the developers as a “Coffee Talk meets D&D” type game, and they’re spot on. You play as the faceless owner of the Wayfarer’s Inn, a cozy tavern and comfortable place to sleep after a long adventure. But you’re not simply an innkeeper, as you’re a master at crafting useful and tasty potions for your patrons. You’re also adept at gathering the rumors you hear and turning them into quests for intrepid adventurers.
The demo only includes some short interactions with a few of Tavern Talk’s characters, but it perfectly captured their personalities and stories. Each character is distinctly their own person with their own quirks and mannerisms. There’s no recycled models or different faces on the same personality type stuff going on here. Some are relatable, some are grumpy, and some are perfect for a good laugh. It’s a lovely variety of different types of characters to encounter.
The Story and the Drinks
Again, it was a demo so I only got a taste of what the story is about, but it feels like how many of my D&D campaigns have gone. There’s a little bit of silliness, and a little bit of seriousness all mixed together. Tavern Talk really nails that mix, I think. Nothing is ever too serious that it bogs you down as levity is thrown into the story well. But, there’s never a time where the levity is over the top and sweeps away any bit of deep story there is. It’s a well-crafted balance necessary for a good experience.
As for the drink making, well that was a lot of fun! Coffee Talk has you making coffees and teas, which is a nice mechanic. However, they don’t really influence the story much. A wrong choice can lead to a different outcome, but in Tavern Talk what potions you serve a patron can change the course of their whole quest! Will they succeed or fail? Will they accomplish their mission through stealth or brute force? That can really depend on which drink you make them! It’s a great way to break up the visual novel bits with some activity, while giving you some freedom of choice to direct your story.
If you like visual novels, if you like Coffee Talk, and if you like D&D, or just fantasy questing, you need to try the Tavern Talk demo! Besides the story, drink making, and characters, the visuals are gorgeous. Everything looks lovingly made and is just beautiful. I can’t recommend it enough! Nor can I wait for the full game to come out. If it’s anything like the demo, it’ll be a fantastic time!
Welcome to Cheaphaven! It’s a short, but charming game full of agriculture and delightful NPCs. Play as a cute little lizard as you get to know a cast of NPCs who live in a nearby small town. Take time to clear the land of trees and debris in order to start your very own farm. Grow some crops, raise some chickens, and fish for a while. Even go shopping in town and collect fun cosmetics for your character like hats!
You won’t get hundreds of hours out of Cheaphaven, but you will encounter a few great hours of relaxed escapism in it!
Spells & Secrets is a magical roguelite adventure where you must free the Academy of Greifenstein from the magical creatures that have overrun it. You’re a young wizard who’s just gone off to school at the esteemed academy to learn more about your magic. However, on your first night there, something strange happens and now the school is a mess. Magical creatures run amok in the halls, your fellow students are lost in the ever-changing rooms of the school, and there’s something a little more nefarious going on.
Spells & Secrets sets up a very basic story from the beginning. Again, you’re a young wizard who has arrived at the Academy of Greifenstein to learn about magic and improve your abilities. You’re then dropped right into the problem of the school being overrun with magical creatures. After that, the story unfolds as you progress through each dungeon level and encounter fellow students and even some of the bad guys. It’s a pretty standard “good vs. evil” situation. Someone has caused chaos at the Academy, it’s just a matter of sussing out who did it.
The question I have is why am I, a literal magical novice and child, the one who’s responsible for fixing the issue. I’m traversing the dangerous hallways of the school in search of my fellow students, fighting monsters, and encountering the bad guys. Meanwhile, the Spells & Secrets adult teachers are chilling outside in the courtyard prepared to sell me spells and upgrades so I can get further in my dungeon crawling. Surely one of the experienced people should help me! Silly adults.
Overall, I enjoy how the Spells & Secrets story unfolds as you progress. You don’t have all the answers, and you don’t always get them quickly. It takes time to earn enough for new spells and upgrades. Plus, without those upgrades and new spells, it can be difficult getting through dungeon levels. Some of those creatures are unforgiving! I also appreciate the lack of hand-holding. There is a tutorial, but you’re not interrupted frequently by cutscenes or new game mechanics. You just get to blast through some rude creatures.
I won’t pretend I’m incredible at fighting games, and Spell & Secrets has only proved that further. It took me several runs of the first floor before I managed to progress to the second floor. It can be frustrating, but that’s part of the draw of roguelites. It’s certainly easy to see when you’ve made upgrades to your repertoire, too. I went from struggling to blasting through creatures like they were nothing. So, it offers a very satisfying experience, despite the repetition. You feel like you’ve earned it once you progress.
I enjoy the variety of spells in Spells & Secrets, too. Each one has a different effect, while also deploying in a different way. Magic Missile is just a bullet of magic you shoot at the enemies. Freeze comes out in a spray of icy clouds, and so on. It’s easy to visually see which spell is which when scrolling through them or deploying them against enemies. Being able to build on their capabilities is satisfying too. Improving the power of Magic Missile absolutely made my runs easier to complete. And adding different spells that have different effects allows you to combine the powers of your arsenal to more efficiently defeat enemies. It lends a sense of creativity and strategy to the game.
enemies. It lends a sense of creativity and strategy to the game.
Besides the fighting, you can join what appear to be like school clubs. There are four for you to choose from, and it helps give you an objective outside the main storyline and dungeon crawling. You can even earn different clothing items to further customize your character. Spells & Secrets is overall a roguelite dungeon crawler with a sprinkling of socializing and other fun. I personally think it’s a fun combination!
I’d recommend this game to anyone who enjoys the idea of being a magic-slinging wizard. Overall, I’d give it:
Embark on a heartwarming adventure about a young duck who’s tired of feeling sad. Mirth Island follows the duck as he decides enough is enough and sets out for the odd little island where happiness is said to be abundant.
Set out in a worn-out little boat in search of this island. Face some challenges along the way, but also make friends with Mirth Island’s cast of quirky islanders. Listen to their troubles and lend a helping hand while you’re at it. Engage in some joyful minigames full of dancing, singing, and music, too!
There’s different events, scenarios, and endings for you to discover in this wholesome game!
You can find Mirth Island on Steam, where you can add it to you Wishlist to receive notification of its release!
Are you looking for a cozy idle game that doesn’t involve leveling up fighters to defeat bosses and enemies? Garden Galaxy might be perfect for you, then! This relaxing little game is a unique sandbox idler where you take time to craft your ideal landscape.
You start with a blank canvas of a few white tiles, and a mysterious looking pot. Every few seconds in Garden Galaxy you’ll have a cute little flame-like visitor pop-up for a visit. Click them to earn a coin. Then, feed the coin into the mysterious pot to earn a reward! The pot will spit out cute decorations like lanterns and planters, helpful piggy banks, and terrain tiles. Rearrange the terrain tiles and decorations as you please to create a beautiful garden space. You’ll even be able to change the background color and the time of day to achieve the perfect aesthetic.
Take a moment to embark on a chill and creative journey with this pretty little idle game!
You can find Garden Galaxy on Steam now! There’s also a demo available so you can try out the game first.
You can check out my previous article introducing Spirit City: Lofi Sessions here, but it’s essentially a gamified productivity tool. The whole game takes place in your room, where you can sprawl out on the bed, sit by the cozy fire, relax at the bay window, or use the desk. There’s relaxing lofi music tracks to play in the background and other tools to keep on task and track your productivity. There’s also little creatures and decorations you can unlock and use as you level up through playing.
I recently played the demo of Spirit City and it was great! The features were limited, of course, but what I did was sold me on this game. You start by customizing your own character, which is fun. There’s different hair styles, hair color options, and clothing choices. You can get comfy and cozy right from the start! Then there’s the music. The tracks are relaxing and chill. They’re perfect for having some sound in the background without being distracting. You can even add background noises like crackling fireplace or rainfall.
What I really liked was that you have control of the ambiance of the room. Spirit City lets you control what time of day it is, so the overall lighting can be changed to suit your mood. Sitting at the large bay window in the evening to watch the rain is highly cathartic. Then there’s the other tools that are perfect for productivity. The to-do list lets you input your own entries, so you can craft a list perfect for doing homework right now, or make one for a large project. Then, use the built-in pomodoro timer to lock yourself in to working for a specific amount of time with built-in breaks. It’s perfect for studying or completing other tasks within a time limit.
The other tools weren’t available during the demo, but I can absolutely see their usefulness without having tried them. Spirit City offers a journal option so you can log whatever it is you want to log. Perhaps a run down of your day, or a log of a project you’re working on. The History option is great for analyzing your productivity to see where you could improve for better results.
Spirit City: Lofi Sessions provides a really pretty, distraction-free, gamified productivity tool. Set yourself up for a good working session and power through it with the help of some great music. Plus, you’re never alone with a cute spirit creature to accompany you, and more for you to discover. Even decorate the room to suit you!
I think everyone should try this demo out. It was a worthwhile experience!
The Spirit City: Lofi Sessions demo is on Steam! The full release is projected to be Q2 of 2024.
Solarpunk is a first person game that you can play solo or together with friends. While it is an open-world crafting survival, it’s also a cozy adventure full of resource gathering, building, exploring, crafting, and farming. Harness the power of sunlight, water, and wind to automate your homesteading processes.
Take advantage of the modular building components to build the home of your dreams. Build your floor plan from scratch by placing each floor tile. Set up walls, windows, doors, and roofs to complete the plan. Add stairs for a multi-story set-up! Solarpunk also has a variety of decorations for you to use to create the coziest home possible. Then, you can place farm plots to grow your own fruits and vegetables to consume. Each crop satisfies a different amount of hunger, so growing a variety of them can be useful. You can also trade your bounty to the merchant for other goods.
Don’t forget to build your own airship so you can explore Solarpunk’s numerous sky islands. You’ll find caves, mountains, lakes, and rivers across the world. Different resources can be found on different islands, too. Or if you’re more of the farmer type, raise and breed different animals. Treat them well, and those animals will reward you with resources! There’s no exploitation here, only coexistence. So be sure to provide them with enough food, water, and space.
You can find Solarpunk on Steam where you can add it to your Wishlist. There is no official release date listed yet.
Loftia has some promise for a cozy MMO, also with solarpunk elements like harnessing alternative energy sources!
Have you ever wanted to start your own space colony from the ground up? Cozynauts let’s you do that! Your corporation has sent you out into the galaxy to discover new materials. You land on a new, desolate planet and believe it’d make the perfect place for a new colony. The only problem is your space pod only has room for you. So, you get to build this colony from scratch!
Set out on a grand adventure as you traverse this alien planet in search of resources. At first you’ll need to carry your items by hand. As you progress, though, Cozynauts offers a variety of upgrades. Eventually you’ll be able to build a hover cart that will follow you as you gather. Then, you can build a whole production line to streamline the process. Of course you get to craft a variety of items, too. Expand your colony by building houses and other amenities like shops. Just don’t forget to supply them with oxygen! Then, pretty up the place by crafting decorations for the colony.
When you’re not gathering resources and building your colony, Cozynauts offers some other great cozy gameplay. Grow crops in the greenhouse and cross-breed them to discover new crops. Use those crops to make delicious meals to restore your stamina. Catch alien bugs and fish with your net and fishing pole, then donate them to the data center collection, sell them, or use them in recipes. Not all critters are friendly, though, so be careful! You can also adventure into the underground to gather different materials and critters. Fight enemy robots and mini bosses, while searching for the remnants of an alien civilization.
Play solo or invite a friend to join you in your colony-building endeavors!
Cozynauts is currently listed on Steam where you can add it to your Wishlist. It has a planned release date of some time in the beginning of 2024!
Cuisineer is a dungeon-crawling restaurant game that I think is perfectly cozy!