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  • svgJan 31, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Have you ever wanted to play as a cute, sentient little garlic bulb who builds equally adorable construction projects? Garlic Builder by developer Cave Liquid lets you do just that! You play as Garlic, who has taken over the family construction business. This cute game is set in a tranquil mountain village where you collect various building resources to create pixel builds.

    Take customer requests to build objects they desire, then experience a deeper story in Garlic Builder. A story full of corporate conspiracies as the nearby city encroaches on your village’s peace. Meanwhile, use the building resources you collect to accurately build what your customers ask for in a timely manner. You also get feedback to see how your building has impacted your customers!

    This super casual building RPG feels like picross with a good story behind it.

    Release Date

    Garlic Builder is available now on Steam!

    Looking for a more realistic tycoon-type game? Check out United Penguin Kingdom!

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  • svgJan 31, 2024Reviews

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    Echoes of the Plum Grove by Freedom Games is a farm sim where you play as what looks like a person straight from Colonial America. You embark on a journey to a new land to settle and set up a farm where you’ll live out your dream life. However, disaster strikes, and you find yourself washed up on the shores of Honeywood island. There, you’re returned to health and handed a parcel of land to tend to. Spend your days farming, getting to know the townspeople, decorating, cooking, and fishing. Even build a legacy and play through different generations of the family you built. 

    The Demo is a Great Peek at the Coming Fun

    I received the demo of Echoes of the Plum Grove and I am in love! The graphics in this game are so charming and I’m enamored by them. The environments are gorgeous and full of life. Each building has its own personality, but the map thankfully labels the buildings so you have an easier time navigating around town. Run into the cozy bakery for tasty treats, or visit the accommodating town hall to talk to the mayor, then run down to the bog to talk to the mysterious town witch. There’s different areas to explore that exhibit their own vibes perfectly.  Plus, there’s fast travel between signposts! 

    I also really enjoy the character designs of Echoes of the Plum Grove. They’re varied and the different outfits seem to match character personalities. They also have a Paper Mario feel as they’re not 3D. The dialogue seemed pretty baseline and normal, but not unique enough to set it apart from other games. What’s really fun is that you can make choices to befriend the people or antagonize them and make enemies. The generational family aspect is quite unique, and is something I think will set this game apart from others. Raising your children, then playing as them, or others, after your character perishes is a fresh take many have craved. Eternal youth is great, but getting the chance to grow old and have family that are more than just there is fantastic.  

    I can’t wait for this game to be released! 

    Release Date

    You can find Echoes of the Plum Grove on Steam, where you can Wishlist it. However, the Steam page lists the release date as this year. I’m hoping it’s sooner, rather than later.

    Blue Oak Bridge is another cute farming sim, but with magic and weird little creatures.

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  • svgJan 25, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Grow the Seed puts an incredibly intriguing spin on farming by introducing a deck-building strategy element to the mix! Instead of using your cards to deal damage, shield yourself, and cast spells, you use the deck to grow a plant. Start with a seed and nurture it to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. Use utility cards to perform tasks to raise your seedling. Grow, cut parts from the plant, and manipulate the surroundings through your deck of cards. You also use your cards to overcome obstacles and events like bad weather and pests to ensure the safety of your plant. 

    Your deck is necessary for everything in Grow the Seed. Want to direct the roots to grow deeper in search of water? Or perhaps you want more leaves to grow so the plant can photosynthesize? Whatever you want your plant to do, you need a card for that! There’s also more challenging stages where you can choose different seeds and areas to grow in. Each has their own requirements and challenges to overcome. 

    Release Date

    Grow the Seed is listed on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist and download a demo! However, there is no release date listed yet. 

    Plant and grow different plants in Garden In.

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  • svgJan 25, 2024Snack Size News

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    Embark on a fascinating journey to become a renown hotelier in Hotel Simulator 2024 by developer V4 Studio! This game is an immersive hotel simulation where you build and manage your own hotel empire. Start small with the cozy and modest bed-and-breakfast, then move up to five-star luxury hotels as you gain experience and money. 

    Hotel Simulator 2024 gives you almost complete control over your hotel empire. Construct and design every aspect of your hotel by choosing from different options. Select room types, restaurants, leisure facilities, and of course the decorating for every room. You want to craft the perfect environments for your guests to feel comfortable and appeal to them. Create modest, comfortable, and budget-friendly places to stay for travelers with a budget. Or, build fabulous and opulent places to attract high-money VIPs. 

    Building and decorating is simply step one of building your empire, though. Hotel Simulator 2024 lets you hire the necessary staff, too. Employ front desk services, maids, and more to ensure your hotel runs smoothly. Also keep an eye on finances, pricing, guest satisfaction, and more as you manage your hotels to become the best hotelier around! 

    Release Date

    You can find this interesting hotel sim on Steam now! 

    Tavern Master is an immersive sim where you build and manage your very own tavern.

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  • svgJan 25, 2024Snack Size News

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    House Builder is a first-person immersive sim where you become a one man construction crew who builds homes. Travel the world and through time to build different designs. Learn about new technologies as you progress. Use different techniques and tools as necessary to create a variety of beautiful homes across the world. Sometimes even demolishing things is necessary! 

    If you enjoy simulation games like Zoo Tycoon, where you have a hand in every aspect of things, House Builder is likely a great one for you. Take a hands-on approach as you process materials and use tools to build a mud hut in Africa, an igloo in the Arctic, a log cabin in Siberia, and many more. Each house consists of hundreds of elements you need to match to the design plans. As you progress through the game, and the ages, you’ll learn about different technologies that will help you build better homes. From materials, to structures, you’ll get the chance to use everything you learn. Use tools to craft the houses, and upgrade your skills to use better tools which will make building go faster. Build to your heart’s content with this beautiful sim.

    Limited only by your imagination and bank budget, what will you create?

    Release Date 

    House Builder is available now on Steam. There is also a VR version if you really want to immerse yourself! Plus, you can find this game on PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch

    I’m also excited for the upcoming Paralives game, where home building is available too!

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  • svgJan 24, 2024Reviews

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    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). 

    Visuals

    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. 

    Final Thoughts

    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. 

    I give this one

    You can find Blue Oak Bridge on Steam.

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  • svgJan 24, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Capybarista is an adorable cafe management game by developer YarnCat Games. You’re the new owner of a very cozy little cafe. Design, decorate, and run the cafe in a low-stakes environment. Place furniture, pick from a variety of useful machines, and use different tasty coffee and food recipes to please your customers. 

    There are dozens of furniture options and you have the freedom to plan your layout. Choose your wallpaper, flooring, and more to create the perfect cozy cafe. Listen to some relaxing music as you take orders from customers. Then, prepare their drinks and pastries to their specifications. This is no Diner Dash, though. Capybarista lets you take all the time you need to make and deliver the orders as there’s no timer. It’s a chill job, after all. There’s also an online multiplayer mode so you can hop over to other shops to see how they’ve been designed, trade tips and tricks, or make a new friend. Or if you prefer, you can play with up to 8 players locally! 

    Release Date

    Capybarista is on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist or try out the demo! There is currently no specific release date listed, though.

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  • svgJan 24, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Tavern Manager Simulator from developer One More Time focuses on rebuilding, expanding and improving a tavern. You take over an old, abandoned tavern in a fantasy kingdom town with the goal of restoring it to its former glory. Take a hands-on approach with the restoration by clearing away debris, wiping up cobwebs, and cleaning up lingering dust. Buy new furniture and decor to make the place inviting, but don’t spend all your money at once. You need to buy food and drink supplies to run the tavern! 

    Not only are you in charge of renovations, but Tavern Manager Simulator has you in charge of cooking and serving customers too! Order quality ingredients, then turn them into tasty meals for your patrons. Chop up some steaks and grill them over an open flame. Toss some veggies in a cauldron to make a delectable soup. The more you cook, the better your skills become. Just make sure you practice proper time management. Your patrons expect beer and food as fast as possible, and your profits depend on their happiness. 

    Run your tavern successfully and you just might become world-famous! 

    Release Date

    Tavern Manager Simulator is coming to Steam very soon, with a projected release date as Q1 of this year! You can find it now to add to your Wishlist.

    If you enjoy management games, take a look at this list of some other great games to check out. You might also like The Diner at the End of the Galaxy.

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