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!
Have you been looking for the next great tycoon-type game? You know, like Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon where the focus was on using your creativity to build parks, while keeping guests happy. Perhaps one without puzzles or roguelite elements. A game that gets back to the roots of the genre and is just purely a tycoon game? Tavern Master might be for you, then! This is a cozy medieval management game where you’re in charge of building, maintaining, and running your own tavern.
Tavern Master equips you with many different tools to help you create the perfect business. Craft impeccable layouts and choose from any number of walls, flooring, fences, and stairs to build your tavern. Add decorations for a personal, cozy touch, too. Be sure to include a kitchen and rooms for guests to stay overnight! Arrange enough tables and chairs, plus light sources, to attract customers. Hire staff to run the kitchen and serve guests, and optimize the workflow. Customers will only wait so long!
What’s better than running a bath house for spirits? Maybe running an adorable mountain-side spa for cute critters! Capybara Spa is an adorable point and click simulation game where you do just that. Restore a run-down spa and run an efficient business to please your customers.
In Capybara Spa, you’ll grow different fruits like lemons, oranges, strawberries, and blueberries to feed as snacks to your guests. You’ll also need to craft different soaps that your guests request to keep them happy. Work on increasing the popularity of your spa to unlock new decorations and amenities like tubs and fruit gardens. Even expand your business to accommodate more animals. You’ll encounter turtles, frogs, otters, and ducks as your business grows. Plus, you can employ butterflies, bees, dragonflies, and ladybugs to help run the spa more efficiently!
Can you run a successful and relaxing spa?
You can find the adorable Capybara Spa on Steam now!
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!
Fantastic Haven is a lovely Zoo Tycoon type game where you run a safe haven for magical creatures. As people move towards more advanced technology, their desire to live in harmony with the magical creatures wanes. This puts the balance of magic under pressure, and it’s up to you to restore that balance. Take in magical creatures that are injured or endangered, and restore them to health. Then, release them back into the wild to help restore the magic of the world. Even try diplomacy and education to teach humans about the importance of these creatures. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worth it!
I had the pleasure of playing the demo for Fantastic Haven and I have to say, it was SO short. I got a very small taste of what the game is about, and it left me wanting more. Building facilities necessary for taking care of animals, as well as advancing your research is great for game progression. Hand-crafting the biotopes needed to house the magical creatures is fun and lends a sense of creativity outside of building what amounts to a village with your buildings.
It’s apparent that, despite the short demo, Fantastic Haven will be fully involved and perfect for spending a day gaming. You conduct research, build golems to help you in your tasks, care for the creatures’ medical needs, build biotopes, feed creatures, and much more. It has a very apparent depth to it. However, that means there are menus upon menus for you to navigate. That by itself is fine.
Many complicated strategy and management games have that. Fantastic Haven’s research menu, building menus, creature menus, etc. are common enough. The only problem I found is that the text is TINY. It’s difficult to read, which makes it difficult to accomplish things in the game. The lack of tutorial was mildly frustrating, too. I don’t know if that was demo specific, but I hope so. The starting quests ask you to pan the camera, move around the area, and similar. It doesn’t tell you how to do that, though. So, if you’d never encountered using Q and E to turn a camera, you’d be totally lost and unable to progress the quest line.
That said, Fantastic Haven is absolutely beautiful and offers an immersive storyline along with its game play. I could see myself spending hours upon hours perfecting the layout of my village, negotiating with humans, and carefully building biotopes for creatures. It’s a magical adventure that calls me to play!
I’ll hold off on rating the demo, since they’re not always accurate to what the final game will look like. Just know that I think it’ll be a worthwhile game!
You can find Fantastic Haven on Steam, where you can Wishlist it. It’s not projected to release until Q2 of next year, though. There’s also plans for releases on Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox!
Autonauts is a quirky little game with adorable low-poly designs. It combines the best aspects of farming, crafting, production, and resource management into one fun game. You’re a space explorer, and have set out traveling the universe to colonize new planets and automate production.
Start your Autonauts adventure by collecting sticks and stones. Your colonization plan begins with the bare basics! Craft simple tools using blueprints, and slowly build up your army of workerbots. These bots will help you in your efforts to colonize the universe. Use a visual programming language to teach your bots so they can be tasked with different jobs. Teach them how to cook, build, fish, farm, and care for your animals. Even expand your endeavors further by creating colonists that your workerbots can help through their jobs!
Now, Autonauts has some fun features that have been added since release. There are tons of bot scripting abilities, plus refinement updates that were requested by players. There’s a faster way to share bot codes, too. Upgraded storage transporters help level up your production. Then, there’s the Settlement Mode, which challenges players further. You’re must build a Metropolis with only 300 bots!