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  • svgFeb 22, 2024Indie Highlight

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    Welcome to Minami Lane! This lovely little life sim by indie developers Doot and Blibloop is a short, but wholesome play. It lets you build your very own street where you can decorate and manage shops. Build cozy homes to attract villagers to your street. Choose from a number of different colors for the roof and walls to create the perfect look. Your villagers need more than just a comfortable place to live, though! 

    Keep the villagers of Minami Lane happy by meeting several of their needs. Beautify the neighborhood with decorations, shops, and attractions. Parks add a beautiful pop of natural color and provide the perfect spot to relax. Ramen shops serve up delicious steaming bowls of food. Boba shops give villagers tasty treats to boost their mood. There are other shops your villagers may want, too. Plus, each shop has its own inventory and effects on the neighborhood. Play missions for a challenge or sandbox mode to focus on the creative side of building. 

    Release Date

    Minami Lane releases in just 5 short days on Steam! Grab the demo now to prepare for the release on February 28th. 

    If you prefer a free-form building game with no objectives, try Tiny Glade!

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  • svgFeb 8, 2024Indie Highlight

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    The once great city of Rome has fallen, and now you’re in search of a new land to restart life. Nova Roma by developer Lion Shield has you lead a small band of people who seek to build a new city called Nova Roma. This city is meant to be a bastion for all the good things the Roman Empire once was, but it’ll take work. Start from a tiny little village and work to build a bustling city. 

    Nova Roma is a building simulation at its heart, but you’ll also need to figure out how to harness the world around you. Build dams and aqueducts to control water for your city. Explore the world in search of necessary resources and ship them back home to use. Meet the many needs of your citizens by providing homes, entertainment, and more. Even choose to keep your urban sprawl in check or risk the wrath of the gods by taking over the countryside. Of course, you can build temples to those gods to appease them and ensure Nova Roma’s prosperity! 

    Release Date

    This gorgeous city-builder is coming to Steam this year. You can add it to your Wishlist now!

    Want something a little more free-form and relaxing? Try Tiny Glade!

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  • svgFeb 7, 2024Reviews

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    It’s February already, and that means it’s Steam Next Fest time! I’ve written about past Next Fest demos that I fell in love with here and here. This time, I’m bringing you an even bigger list of cozy games because this Next Fest is packed full of great ones. From interior design games, farming sims, and creature collectors, to gardening and diorama makers, there’s so much to see this time around. So, without further ado, here’s a whopping 10 different Steam Next Fest demos you need to try this month!

    Make Room

    Make Room is a relaxing little diorama designer game. Use hundreds of different items to craft the perfect spaces in each environment. Set up a charming country kitchen, build a comfy reading nook, or design the coziest living room you can think of. You have total control over where items are placed, so you can make your interior design visions come true. 

    The icons in this game are SO small, but the item options and color choices are perfect for creating some great rooms. The sandbox mode is great for strictly creating on your terms. The objectives mode is easy and relaxed, even though you must build to certain specifications. And creating things on a smaller scale makes creating a lot less overwhelming.

    Critter Crops

    Critter Crops is a gorgeously designed game where you play as Sylvie. She’s a newfound witch who’s been run out of her town because of her abilities. As Sylvie, you arrive on Mutter Island where you discover you can grow magical Critter Crops. These special plants can help you restore the island to its former glory. When you’re not farming, explore the lovely little island you now call home, gather resources, mine, and get to know the people you come across.

    What a delightfully whimsical game! The art is very unique, and the crops are too. Raise creatures by growing crops that are very, very different from what you’re used to. The town and crops and creatures are all slightly spooky, which is perfect for the Halloween-loving player who dislikes actual scary things. The color palette and the music is super pleasing, too. Talk about a farm sim with a twist!

    Everholm

    In Everholm, you play as Lilly, a young woman looking for her lost sister, Melanie. While out searching, you come across a mysterious portal that beckons you to the cute and cozy little island of Everholm. Weirdly, everyone there seems to recognize you, too, like you’re an old friend. So, embark on an adventure full of mysteries, magic, and relationships as this sim game is all about learning new skills and living together in harmony with others. Farm, forage, fish, raise livestock, and more. 

    Here’s another beautiful game. This time, it’s a lovely pixel art style game with a great story behind it. I like that your character actually holds a conversation with the NPCs, too. You’re not just subjected to a one-sided monologue. Plus, the NPCs exhibit some really great personalities through their speech. It’s clear this game was lovingly made. 

    Furnish Master

    Furnish Master is a relaxing interior design game where you furnish apartments, houses, commercial estates, and outdoor spaces. Use intuitive controls to place each piece of furniture and decor how you like it. Painstakingly choose color schemes and materials for your furniture to match the theme of each room. Even resize items so they fit perfectly in a space. As you complete spaces, earn money so you can buy new properties to continue decorating. You can also engage in story mode where you can buy properties across a single city. Even take on some challenges and puzzles in story mode to unlock new items.

    Here’s another diorama-like interior design game, but this time has a far more complex system and more involved missions. Paint the walls to certain specifications, furnish a whole kitchen with specific items, and use your hard-earned money to decorate your own place or buy other properties. There was even a puzzle level in the story mode where you search a room for puzzle pieces and put it together. If the levels have that much variation, I think it’ll be a really fun game. Not to mention the furniture options are varied, there’s a pretty great placement mechanic that includes snapping, and the graphics are nice. This is great for folks who want a little more direction and a more involved interior design game. 

    Botany Manor 

    Botany Manor takes place at a stately home in 19th century England, and you play as Arabella Greene, a retired botanist who lives at the manor. Spend your days exploring the different rooms of your historically accurate manor. Get to know Arabella and her career as a woman in science through your explorations. Discover beautiful gardens and sprawling countryside vistas as you take in the relaxing nature around you. Take care of a variety of plants by finding their seeds and planting them in the appropriate environments. Inspect newspapers, letters, paintings, and more to get a better understanding of the needs of your plants. Care for them and help them flourish by meeting their exact needs, and watch as your efforts are rewarded!

    The visuals are just breathtaking in this game. They’re by no means highly realistic levels of art, but the designs of plants, the architecture, and the dynamic lighting work perfectly together to create such a charming environment. The manor grounds are to die for. I’d love to have my own home with a garden and orchard as beautiful as this one! Searching for clues on how best to grow the plants adds an element of fun beyond simple gardening. It gives you a reason to look around the manor, but also makes you feel like a researcher, which the character you play is! If you play nothing else on this list, play this game. It’s so worth it.

    Minami Lane

    Welcome to Minami Lane! This lovely little life sim lets you build your very own street where you can decorate and manage shops. Build homes to attract villagers to your street. Keep them happy by beautifying the area with decorations, shops, and attractions. Build ramen shops, boba cafes, bookstores, and more. Each shop has its own inventory and effects on the neighborhood. Play missions for a challenge or sandbox mode to focus on the creative side of building. 

    This was such an enjoyable experience. There are goals and missions to complete, but they weren’t super high-stakes or difficult to complete. The overall graphics are gorgeous and soft and adorable. I love the Japanese-inspired architecture and street design. It’s nostalgic for me, and brings a sense of comfort. Overall, this game is perfect if you want a city-builder with more than just creative building. 

    Lightyear Frontier

    Lightyear Frontier is the cozy farm sim set on an alien planet and uses mechs to farm! That’s right, you get to pilot your own fleet of mechs to get things done around the farm or go out exploring the gorgeous world around you. Build your new home and develop a flourishing farm by growing alien crops. Explore your surroundings and restore them by cleaning up pollution and clearing invasive weeds. Discover the secrets of the world, and do it all while playing solo or together with friends.

    What’s better than a farm sim? A farm sim with semi-realistic art where you pilot a mech suit to farm and explore, of course! This is seriously such a fun concept, and the different advanced tools you have access to make things even more fun. Vacuum up some water or seeds. Use your spikesaw to obliterate rocks and bushes. It’s a very modern sci-fi take on farm sims, and I love it! 

    Night Stones

    In Night Stones, you find yourself trapped in a dream in a world full of magic and a rich story. Upon waking, you find yourself still in this world and must discover the secrets of the world and find a way home. Explore the beautiful world of Mythica where you’ll encounter Night Stones. These stones will turn night into day, and vice versa, allowing you to meet new characters. Complete quests to gain new abilities that will help you to further your mission. There’s no combat in this game, but there are enemies you’ll need to outsmart to accomplish your goals!

    This was such a short demo, but I loved it. Movement is smooth. Controls are super easy. The art is cartoony, but lovely. Animations looked great, too. All of it comes together to present such a good demo that makes me excited for the full game!

    Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge

    Kamaeru is an adorable farm sim where you farm, raise frogs, and preserve nature. Transform the surrounding wetland into a hospitable home for your amphibian friends. Meanwhile, feed, breed, and care for a variety of frogs. In fact, there are over 500 frogs for you to collect! You’ll need to figure out how to attract new types of frogs, then breed them together to unlock rare colors and patterns. Take pictures of your cute pals, and decorate the refuge to make the coziest little from rescue! 

    I loved the watercolor-like art in this game, and a comfortable creature collector. Playing is calm and easy. The frogs are adorable, plus restoring the wetlands is a fulfilling objective. Decorations are adorable and fun to place. There is a tic-tac-toe mini game to breed frogs together that adds a fun element, and there are more minigames mentioned to be coming with the full version. This makes me excited for the full version because it ought to be packed with a lot of great things to do. 

    Summerhouse

    Summerhouse is a relaxing building game. That’s it! Build structures on a small scale to create cute neighborhoods. Set your neighborhoods near the sea, in the middle of the city, or nestled in the majestic mountains. There are no rules, no goals, and no objectives to this game. The focus is purely on creative building. So, kick-back and relax with some building!

    This one reminds me a lot of Townscaper. You just simply unleash your creativity and build, but instead of creating whole cities and villages, you’re creating houses, apartment buildings, or shops. The art is beautiful and relaxing, and so is the music. This is a great game if you’re looking to get creative without the constraints of missions or timers.

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  • svgJan 31, 2024Reviews

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    Cat Cafe Manager by developer Roost Games is an adorable and casual cafe management game full of cats, decorating, and fun customers. You return to the little village of Caterwaul Way, home to your grandmother’s old cat cafe. You’ve recently inherited the place and it’s your job to renovate it to get it back up and running. Impress the locals with your business savvy, while befriending and caring for the local stray cat population. Even adopt out the cats to forever homes! 

    Graphics

    I really enjoy the visuals in Cat Cafe Manager. It looks like a hand drawn game, and the backgrounds and character designs all feel unique. They fit in with the sleepy little village vibes and enhance them, even. Every visual works together to create the cozy vibe that this game goes for. The cats are adorable, too. Plus, the main characters each have their own designs and personalities. The regular customers are just carbon copies of each other, which works for this game as they only serve to earn you money. Their designs are nice, though. You can tell who is a fisherman, a witch, and so on. 

    The Gameplay

    Cat Cafe Manager is a fairly short game, clocking in around 10-15 hours depending on your play style. It’s reminiscent of Diner Dash, which I played a ton of growing up, just without the time constraints. Instead of dashing around as fast as possible to appease customers and keep them happy, you can take your sweet time taking orders, preparing drinks and food, and delivering to customers. There’s no reason to rush around. Everyone is there to relax and enjoy their time. Plus, they want to hang out with the adorable cats you’ve collected. However, it is a bit grindy and repetitive. Day in and day out is filled with opening shop, serving customers, buying resources, rescuing cats, and upgrading the shrine’s upgrade trees. That’s it. 

    You get to lay out your cafe’s floorplan yourself, so you can create the perfect little space to suit your needs and design vision. It’s a nice touch to the game to give you almost total freedom from the get-go. Cat Cafe Manager also lets you decorate the space using several different sets of furniture and appliances. However, the decoration options are severely limited. I want spooky, moody wallpaper and flooring to match the harvest and vampire tables, but that doesn’t exist. It’s all up-beat and perky pinks and greens, which are perfect for a plant-heavy cafe, or there are  other unsuitable colors. This type of game should be heavy on the decor options, especially when sets are a thing already. The sets should go all the way into walls, floors, etc. 

    Another element to Cat Cafe Manager is hiring staff to help you in the cafe. This is useful if you’re tired of running around taking orders, making items, delivering to tables, cleaning, and making friends with the local strays. The staff can be tasked with any of those things, taking a load off your plate. However, it really veers into idle game territory once you do that. There isn’t much need for you to do anything besides befriend cats and shop for necessities or decor when you have staff. So, if you’re looking to be more hands-on, don’t hire so many staff members, or any at all. 

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, I did enjoy Cat Cafe Manager. I did struggle with keeping the desired items stocked so customers could order them, but that could just be a skill issue. The different types of customers are very well interconnected with the rest of the game, otherwise. Each type pays in a certain kind of money, which can then be used at specific shops in town. Having different types of currency added a level of necessary management that the game otherwise doesn’t have since it’s so laid-back. Sometimes the item collision boxes were annoying as they aren’t very apparent, but caused me to get stuck on tables and chairs that didn’t appear to be in the way. 

    What really got to me, though, was that upgrading the shrine in town didn’t visually appear to change anything. Cat Cafe Manager emphasizes that you’re restoring the shrine by running the cafe and adopting out cats, and does give you upgrade trees to buy into. However, it doesn’t ever visually look run-down, nor does it look improved as you “restore it”. That would have been a super satisfying addition to the game. 

    This game is cute, but not extremely engrossing. I give it:

    You can find Cat Cafe Manager on Steam and Switch!

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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 3, 2024Snack Size News

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    What’s better than taking part in a journey and grand war to fight for what you believe in? Running the only diner in the galaxy after that war to make tons of money, of course!

    The Diner at the End of the Galaxy is a gritty diner management game where you’re trying to build a successful diner business. The galaxy has been reduced to rubble and ruin after an apocalyptic war. And things are tough after a war has reduced the world to nothing, but there’s still riches to be had! Set on the last civilized planet in the galaxy, you’ll turn an abandoned outpost into a bustling gathering place for all sorts of unsavory clients. 

    Smugglers, mercenaries, space pirates, scheming nobles and merchants all need a place to meet and do business, so build the perfect establishment for that. The Diner at the End of the Galaxy lets you build grand dining halls perfect for customers. Plan out appropriate kitchens to keep up with business. Even set up a garden where you’ll grow exotic plants to use in recipes. You can also hire literally anyone who walks in your door. You’ll want to hire the best of the best to cook the food, serve customers, care for the garden, and craft things, of course. Even engage in some complex politics and forge alliances or rivalries with powerful factions. 

    Will you help an ambitious leader with their vision, or will you stand in the shadows and pull the strings? 

    Release Date

    The Diner at the End of the Galaxy is currently listed on Steam, where you can add it to your Wishlist. However, there is no release date available.

    World End Diner is a cuter diner management game, if that’s what you prefer!

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  • svgDec 28, 2023Feature

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    I truly don’t know where the year went. It’s been an interesting year, and it’s certainly been full of a ton of top-tier games. We’ve seen the release of Palia, a lovely cozy MMORPG that lets you gather friends and strangers alike to farm, mine, and more. The Moonlight Peaks demo dropped recently, too! Then there’s Spells & Secrets, a great roguelite wizarding adventure. dotAGE is the perfect survival city builder. And Roots of Pacha takes top spot for my favorite farming game this year. Some other notable games are Spirit City: Lofi Sessions and Smushi Come Home. But what’s in store for next year? Well, time will tell, but here are nine games to look forward to in 2024!

    Little Kitty, Big City

    First on the list is Little Kitty, Big City! You play as a kitty who’s lost in a big city. You can hurry on your way and find home, or you can take time to explore this brand new place. Cause a little chaos as you explore, too.Dive into trash cans, knock potted plants off their ledges, and walk through some fresh paint to leave behind your paw prints. Meet stray animals on the streets and become friends with them. Find different adorable hats to wear. Plus, so much more!

    Coming to Steam and Switch!

    Bloomtown

    Next up is Bloomtown: A Different Story. You play as Emily and her younger brother Chester as they spend their summer holiday in their grandpa’s cozy and quiet town. Underneath this sleepy little town, however, a demon world is growing and children are going missing. Embark on a grand adventure to save the towns from this mysterious demon world. The demons are the fears and vices of the townspeople that have come to life. As Emily, figure out the mysteries and the disappearances and save the souls of everyone! Face off against giant demons and dungeon bosses in the Underside using a turn-based combat system. Fight alongside your friends, who each have their own sets of abilities, as well as summon your own inner demons. Even capture new creatures to use in other battles by weakening them during combat. 

    Coming to Steam and PlayStation!

    Chilltown

    Third on the list is Chill Town! This game promises to be a soothing blend of idle game and life sim. You run around collecting resources on a beautiful island. Catch bugs, visit the shops or town hall, fish, farm, and tame cute creatures. Unleash your creativity in build mode and create your perfect home using a variety of different decor items. Even add your personal touch to the outside of your home with benches, light posts, and more. Plus, take care of your very own furry friend! 

    Coming to Steam!

    Horticular

    Horticular is a relaxing garden-builder with a little magical twist. You’ve been summoned by mysterious gnomes to restore an abandoned garden. Immerse yourself in a magical world with a day-night cycle, weather patterns, and adorable animals. Meanwhile, build your dream garden with hundreds of unlockable items. Create lush flower gardens and flourishing crop plots. Attract creatures by fulfilling their requirements and taking care of them. You’ll need to fight off decay and corruption by using the magic within your garden.  You’ll also get to rename inhabitants to personalize your gardening experience. And if you want to prove your abilities, enter the in-world competition, plus much more!

    Coming to Steam!

    Critter Cove

    Next on the list is Critter Cove, an open-world life sim set in a post-apocalyptic world. You’ll restore an old town, and sail across a gorgeous archipelago. Collect relics and treasures as you explore. Fish for a variety of sea life. Craft everything you might need from tools to decor. You’ll even get to find new residents to invite to your town. And so much more! There’s tons to do in this game, and it’s all up to you to restore it to its former glory.

    Coming to Steam!

    Chef RPG

    Next up is Chef RPG! The beautiful little seaside town of White Ash harbor is your new home, and once was a thriving tourist destination. Now, it’s up to you to help revive the town using your experience as a traveling chef. In Chef RPG, you’ll run your very own restaurant to serve up delicious dishes in order to attract tourists back to town. Hunt, harvest, and shop for the ingredients you’ll use in your cooking. Build a thriving restaurant and become a successful chef!

    Coming to Steam!

    Tavern Talk

    Sixth on the list is Tavern Talk, where you find yourself to be the owner of Wayfarer’s Inn. It appears to be a normal inn in the middle of the world, but looks can be deceiving. And you can infuse beverages with magic that can influence someone’s fate. You’re known for helping the people of the realm via these magical drinks. Listen to the stories of the unique cast of beautifully designed adventurers that come in. From boasting about their glory or commiserating about failures, you’ll experience a variety of different personalities and tales. Help them find a place that feels like home by building relationships and creating an inviting environment inside the inn. Craft different interesting drinks, while you’re at it, but be careful what you serve. Your drink choices will alter their fate and the path their quests will take. Your choices shape the story of Tavern Talk!

    Coming to Steam!

    SunnySide

    Welcome to SunnySide. You’ve just purchased your first plot of land located in an aging town in Japan’s countryside. Your goal is to create a homestead you can be proud of. You’ll learn to collect your own water, generate power, grow crops, craft food, care for your animals, and much more in order to help your local economy. You’ll get to ferment soy sauce, grow and grind your own flour, and even make cheese. Then, you can take it all a step further and cook recipes using your homemade ingredients. SunnySide also features a colorful cast of characters for you to interact with. Life in the small town is peaceful, but not without its problems. What sets this game apart from the other farm sim games is that it seeks to combine modernism with the old.

    Coming to Steam!

    Meetlight and the Secrets of the Universe

    In the last game on the list you play as Anna. Anna has faced a terrible tragedy and lost her spouse. Now, she has taken over her great-uncle’s forge and become the new blacksmith. You’ll build your house from scratch (and decorate it too!), customize your character’s appearance, and befriend animals, nature, and your neighbors (some are even romanceable!). You’ll even be able to complete quests for the villagers or trade with them. With the loss of your spouse, you’ve gained the ability of clairvoyance, which you’ll slowly develop and perfect as you play. Enter the magical world of energy where you’ll meet new inhabitants, explore lost places, and discover the secrets of the universe. In this 3D open-world, with 19 places to visit on the map (so far), there’s just SO much to do and see. Plus, there’s farming, animal companions, cooking, and alchemy for you to enjoy!

    Coming to Steam, with plans for Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation!

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