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The SunnySide logo appears against a sunset
Screenshot by GameSkinny

SunnySide Impressions: A Persona-Inspired Farming & Dating Sim With Unmet Potential

SunnySide's ambitious marriage of genres has its ups and downs, but the future looks bright.

Farming sims have become a dime a dozen as the niche grows and bears new fruit, and SunnySide presents an experimental take on traditions and core mechanics. If you’re taking a trip to the game’s Japanese countryside fresh off the bus from Stardew Valley, tending to your farmstead with a smartphone in hand may elicit a unique sense of culture shock.

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After all, the new title from RainyGames and Merge is best described as a farming and dating sim with Persona-inspired RPG elements. Bridging a variety of genres for a modernized gameplay experience is an ambitious undertaking, to say the least. SunnySide is not without its hiccups, but there’s potential for a bright future ahead.

SunnySide Is Full of Untapped Potential

Player checks their phone in SunnySide
Screenshot by GameSkinny

SunnySide entered its beta testing period on June 19, 2024, introducing the charming countryside location and its locals. As is to be expected, it was not without easily-remedied glitches, minor performance issues, and the like, though this raised a fair amount of concern amongst its early player base. RainyGames has dutifully stepped in with a new patch since its launch last week, solving many of the problems players faced starting out. While the game is running smoothly for most, there remains vast room for improvement throughout.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either; SunnySide wields some of the best farming and dating sim staples while implementing an RPG-style battle system that rivals Persona, paving a new path forward. Of course, this also means it’s got some pretty big shoes to fill. Merely a week into beta testing, there’s plenty of opportunity waiting in SunnySide. Though much of it has gone unmet in its early stages, the developer’s initiative thus far may promise future content to polish lackluster romance and round out rough tutorials.

Loads of Tutorials, Little Help

Most titles that fall under the farming sim umbrella make use of the same or similar mechanics when it comes to basics, like tilling fields, sowing seeds, and harvesting crops. To both newcomers and cozy game aficionados, learning the ropes in SunnySide may seem rather unintuitive.

You start out with a huge plot of land, with only a small sum of cash and a tent to your name. While there are plenty of pop-up tutorials that remain at your disposal via the in-game smartphone app, many lack the details necessary to get a firm grasp on controls, which differ greatly from other games of this ilk.

This is kind of ironic, considering this is quite literally your farmer’s first rodeo. Even so, it does trigger a disconnect between those familiar with the genre and the game’s ultra-technical mechanics despite ample opportunities to learn. I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to work out how to plant my potato seeds (to the point my farmer nearly passed out).

After a close call, I was relieved to accept Kat’s help with the job the next day, and I sat through an additional tutorial, rehashing which tools to use. Despite Kat’s efforts, I still found myself searching the web for answers — only to stumble upon the correct controls by total accident myself.

To be clear, SunnySide is no doubt an inventive take on the farming sim genre. Once you get the hang of controls, it’s easy to lose track of time foraging, modifying your farmstead, and meeting up with friends. It just takes a bit of time and patience to get there.

SunnySide’s Modern Dating Scene Lacks Longevity

The romance was SunnySide‘s biggest draw ahead of its public beta. Granted, the game’s Steam overview promises “some romance,” but it seems this is an objective you should take quite literally before diving in. Moving into its second week, the game’s dead-end dating scene is a major point of contention among players who were hoping to take the next step in their relationships.

As it stands, the marriage-and-kids route isn’t an option in SunnySide. The self-proclaimed dating sim instead prioritizes character arcs that, again, mirror those of the Persona franchise (during its beta stage, at least). While I don’t mind keeping things casual in this context, it’s certainly not for everyone. That said, those hoping to surpass the talking stage might want to skip this one in favor of other romance-focused farming sims, like the developing Fields of Mistria.

Video via RainyGames

At present, SunnySide‘s promising premise is partially eclipsed by its convoluted mechanics and lacking a romance system. But as reviews and bug reports continue to roll in during the game’s beta testing period, I have high hopes that RainyGames will work out the kinks necessary to take the multifaceted project to new heights. With a bit of polish, SunnySide has the right stuff to become a modern bridge between farming and dating sims and the ever-evolving RPG genre as we know it.

If you love Persona games, you can check out our Persona 3 Reload guide hub.

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Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls earned her degree in English from the College of Central Florida in 2021 and began her career as a freelance writer at Screen Rant the following year. She currently directs her creative efforts toward offering tips and insight on a wide variety of game titles at GameSkinny and BGFG, a passion she's held close to her heart since adventuring alongside Chikorita in Pokémon Crystal as a child. Olivia's all-time favorite franchises are Pokémon and Animal Crossing, but she's generally fond of fantasy RPGs and cozy games of all kinds. She's also a budding animanga enthusiast, her personal big three being Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and InuYasha.