Staxel Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Staxel RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Why Stardew Valley is King of the Farming Games https://www.gameskinny.com/5r818/why-stardew-valley-is-king-of-the-farming-games https://www.gameskinny.com/5r818/why-stardew-valley-is-king-of-the-farming-games Sat, 01 Jun 2019 08:00:01 -0400 Josh Broadwell

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Stardew Valley Vs Story of Seasons

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Story of Seasons occupies an interesting position in the farm-and-life-sim genre. It is different from Harvest Moon, but not all that different. That's because it actually is Harvest Moon, thanks to the confusing name change and company swap mentioned earlier.

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Either way, what it primarily does is expand on everything old HM (when it was HM still) already established. For example, in the original Story of Seasons, you get more characters, more personality, more crops, more stuff to do, and more animals.

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It also tries to hearken back to the olden days of brutal farming with a sharp difficulty curve that makes money-earning very, very challenging indeed.

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Trio of Towns takes it further, trying to improve on the Tale of Two Towns concept by, again, adding yet more. The towns are bigger, the themes in each are more pronounced, there are even more animals, people, and crops, plus you have a ton of activities to do outside of farming.

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Unfortunately, it doesn't really establish an identity for itself other than the more colorful, playful Harvest Moon. That doesn't mean the games aren't fun, because they are, but it takes more than loading on content to create a champion game.

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Take the characters, for example. Trio of Towns falls into the same trap Tale of Two Towns did. There are more places to go and people to see, but each is fairly limited because of that.

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Stardew Valley's characters might not be the most detailed and complex ever. However, they're interesting all the same, since they each represent a specific personality trait or life problem that resonates with people — even Shane the chicken man. Sure, they'll say the same line for an entire season, but you want to learn more about them.

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Stardew's other mechanics are fairly basic when you think about it. However, they work well together. Mining is simple, but serves an important purpose both in expanding your farm and getting special gifts; there aren't 50 million crop varieties, but you can do a lot with a few things and shape your farm — and life — around just a handful of crops.

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In some cases, simple is just better.

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Comparing these games and series isn't an easy task, since they're all top rank in what they try to do. With everything Stardew Valley has to offer, though, with the promise of even more single and multiplayer content to come, that's the one you'll find me going back to every time for a bit of quality farm fun.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-ada1d.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-ada1d.png","type":"slide","id":"197933","description":"

Stardew Valley Vs Staxel

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Staxel does a lot of things right. It's a bright and cute take on the blocky Minecraft style, and there's oh-so-much to do. Staxel even lets you customize your world and home, much like Stardew Valley, and there are plenty of relationships to forge as you go about your business.

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Your days are structured much more effectively than Harvest Moon and even Stardew Valley to an extent, since you've got plenty of time to do what you want even after all your chores are done.

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So why is Stardew Valley better?

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For starters, Staxel treats farming a lot like Farming Simulator does. It's definitely a business arrangement before it's anything else. Farming gives you materials you need to create buildings and develop your town — and you need a lot of materials.

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That's one of Staxel's biggest problems: the grind for materials. Farming is made easy, probably to account for the grind, but having the ability to cut your farming tasks short so soon, and making farming just the means to an end, takes some of the satisfaction away.

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Stardew makes you work for a while before you can even get the materials for a decent sprinkler that hopefully works every day. True, the goal of farming is to make money for other things, but in most cases, that money is used to buy more goods for your farm, or it gets put back into the town in some form or another. It's not just fodder for Petals (Staxel currency) and materials.

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It's an interesting drawback given how the game starts off so similar to Stardew and other farm-life sim games, putting you in charge of renovating a run-down farm.

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The socialization falls short as well. Villagers don't have personalities that pop like in Stardew, and they are admittedly a bit creepy thanks to the otherwise-cute aesthetic. They do play into the game's lore, but ultimately they come across like fillers more than interesting personalities to befriend.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-d6667.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-d6667.jpg","type":"slide","id":"197939","description":"

Stardew Valley vs. My Time at Portia

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My Time at Portia is getting a lot more attention recently thanks to its Switch release, though not all of it is good attention. Still, it's a solid game with an almost intimidating amount of things to do in it.

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Farming is but one of them, and it takes a side-role from the beginning. In a twist in the classic Harvest Moon formula, Portia has you work to rebuild your grandfather's workshop, not just his farm.

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Doing that involves farming and raising animals, but the main emphasis here is really the crafting and exploration — which isn't all that surprising given the player's task to rebuild an entire civilization.

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It really comes across more like a combo of Rune Factory and Minecraft or Dragon Quest Builders, especially when you add in the gigantic world to explore and the combat. The world in Portia is huge, and there are constantly new things to build to help you explore it even further.

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That said, despite the game being billed as a life-sim in the style of Stardew or Harvest Moon, it really can't stack up in the farming department. Like Staxel, everything you do is done to get materials for accomplishing a bigger goal.

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Crafting is fun, expansive, and addictive, definitely. However, when I think farming sim game, small-scale comes to mind.

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Making 10 kegs to use those hops for something more profitable is small scale; building a bridge to explore new areas, make new things, and get people to come live in your town while you try and open up bigger areas for more profit is more like an adventure-sim game.

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Where Portia can't compete, even with its bigger scale and fulfilling adventure, is characters. They're interesting and plentiful, but something about them felt shallow in comparison.

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Now, you might think that's ironic when Shane's biggest motivating factor is his pet chicken, though what it really comes down to is the human element. Portia's characters fill a narrative purpose and have interesting backgrounds like a character from a novel — not like someone you know in your own town.

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In short, My Time at Portia is good at what it does, but it's better suited for a long, sprawling adventure instead of an intimate story of building relationships with your neighbors.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-55ca9.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/s/t/a/stardew-king-55ca9.jpg","type":"slide","id":"197932","description":"

Stardew Valley vs. Farming Simulator

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If Rune Factory emphasizes the fantasy element and exploration too much, Farming Simulator does the exact opposite.

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The series' focus shouldn't be too difficult to figure out, given its name. Farming Simulator is basically the agricultural version of Sim City or Cities: Skylines. You're in complete control of your farm, from purchasing plots and fields to buying machinery, keeping everything watered, and pretty much everything an actual farmer would do.

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It's an impressive management and business game, and while the realism in the graphics isn't tremendously impressive, the more recent iterations certainly look good. Farming Simulator 19 even introduces John Deere machines for the first time, and you can't get more farm-y than that.

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It also represents the main reason why it can't stack up to Stardew Valley. On its own, FS is fine, but there's no denying Stardew is a better game all around.

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For one thing, FS is a rather lonely experience. Since the focus is farm management, you don't get the social aspect that's practically synonymous with "farming game" thanks to Harvest Moon. It's a business, so there's no place for getting attached to your animals either; they're just another asset to manage.

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No magical or even monstrous small creatures to help make your farm a bright and lovely place either.

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Stardew Valley respects the fact that people need to leave their farms and businesses every now and again, even if it's just to wander around in the forest — the forest that can't be bought and turned into another field.

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Then there's the other problem of reality: it's too real. The appeal of managing one's own farm quickly withers when you live in a rural area. You see farms and John Deere when you leave the house, it's all anyone talks about, it's on the news every day, and unless you're really dedicated, it's the last thing you want to see when you jump into a game world.

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Sometimes, a bit of fantasy isn't a bad thing.

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Stardew Valley vs. Rune Factory

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The Rune Factory series is probably one of the stronger contenders for the farm crown. A lot of it is built into Stardew Valley after all, including monster ranching and the mine acting as a sort of dungeon.

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The Rune Factory games are also quite charming, though one could argue the series didn't really come into its own until Rune Factory 4 with its expanded story, more interesting character roster, and excellent localization.

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Where Rune Factory fails against Stardew is in how the former deals with the farming mechanic, particularly in RF4.

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The Rune Factory games aren't about runes or factories. They're about upgrading as much as possible — your gear, your farms, your relationships, and your crops and soil, but not your own farming or growing abilities.

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Growing quality crops in Stardew is part RNG and part planning. Fertilize the soil, and you'll get some good returns, if you're lucky. Over time, you can expand your operations as you take back your farm from nature and plan everything the way you want. It's your corner of the world to do with as you see fit.

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Rune Factory has you upgrade crop levels so they're consistently worth more, and there's even a Giantizer to help ensure giant crops more often. It fits the series' fantasy theme, and it frees up time to do other things, sure.

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However, it takes away some of the charm and satisfaction of seeing those gold star melons pile up in your inventory or waking up one morning to find a giant turnip peeking in your window.

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That's because Rune Factory isn't really about that kind of satisfaction.

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Farming is one of many activities, but after a short while, it clearly takes a backseat to other tasks, like relationship building or exploration, most of which doesn't rely on slowly creating a viable, vibrant farm. Shoot, you can even get a monster army to do everything for you, a lot earlier than you can recruit Junimos in Stardew.

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In short, Stardew puts the farming first and lets everything else grow as a natural offshoot from that. Rune Factory has its place, but not necessarily as a top farming sim game.

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Stardew Valley vs. Harvest Moon - To a Point

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Pitting Stardew Valley against Harvest Moon (Natsume's Harvest Moon, old and new) is like demanding a grandparent fight their grandchild. Without Harvest Moon, there would be no Stardew Valley. However, there's also no denying that Harvest Moon has lost its way over the years.

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You could argue the best Harvest Moon is Back to Nature, 64, or Friends of Mineral Town.

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Harvest Moon 64 improved the graphics in a meaningful way, added a memorable soundtrack, and Back to Nature added further depth to the game and the characters of Mineral Town, and FoMT did it all again in a slightly different and even more robust flavor. Farming was the core focus, and everything still felt fresh in the series.

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From there, things started to deteriorate a bit. A Wonderful Life and Hero of Leaf Valley, along with Save the Homeland, were interesting ways to add a different sense of accomplishment — though why someone thought making you die at the end of AWL was a good idea is beyond me. Still, they missed the point of a Harvest Moon game in the process by centering them around a definite point.

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Later entries were fun, if iterative, including Sunshine Islands and Grand Bazaar. The last good Harvest Moon was A New Beginning, which despite not doing a whole lot to shake things up did at least include new design and customization mechanics.

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Part of the issue is how Harvest Moon hamstrung itself with the adventure hybrid series Rune Factory, relegating the base series solely to farming with Rune Factory taking the more dynamic approach.

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Today, the Harvest Moon we get in North America and Europe isn't the Japanese series Bokujou Monogatari, as it's traditionally been. Instead, recent Harvest Moon titles are unique games developed by Natsume, rather than the Marvelous-developed series we've all come to know and love over the years.

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In the West, Bokujou Monogatari (which used to be called Harvest Moon here) is now called Story of Seasons, and that's seen its fair share of changes as well.

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Harvest Moon: Light of Hope shows how that all's been going.

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Stardew takes advantage of all those different styles, then wraps them up in the simplicity of an older Harvest Moon game. You've got the dungeon exploration aspect, farming, socialization, quirky townsfolk, building, and customization.

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There are several, varied goals to work towards as well if you want to restore the Community Center, which goes a long way in keeping things interesting.

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ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley took the world by storm when it launched a few years ago. It was yet another farming simulation game in a market full of them, and at first glance, it doesn't seem like it really does much different.

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If you give it a longer glance and compare it to its biggest competition, you find Stardew Valley isn't just unique among the farming-life sim genre. It's the best offering out there right now.

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Rune Factory has monsters, and Farming Simulator has...farms. Harvest Moon is an all-time classic, while Story of Seasons tries to improve on the formula with more and bigger of everything. Staxel and My Time at Portia take the farming sim in a completely new, and much bigger direction.

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They each revolve around a specific trait or activity that gives them a unique identity.

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Stardew Valley manages to combine elements of everything, though, including combat, exploration, crafting, and life-sim. The characters are a big draw too. Yes, Penny tells you a thousand times that she likes helping kids learn, but she's an easily recognizable character — a trope, but one that's tied more to everyday life instead of media conventions.

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More importantly, it makes farming the core focus, which is typically what you're looking for in a farming game. It's not just a fun mechanic thrown in out of obligation. It's integral to progressing in the game and to getting a sense of satisfaction.

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Best PC Games for Kids 2018 https://www.gameskinny.com/h39qt/best-pc-games-for-kids-2018 https://www.gameskinny.com/h39qt/best-pc-games-for-kids-2018 Tue, 06 Nov 2018 11:50:28 -0500 Josh Broadwell

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Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

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Everyone’s favorite bandicoot is back! And what’s more, he’s on PC, at long last. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy features the dusky marsupial’s original three outings from the PS1, painstakingly remastered for modern gamers. It’s quite the treat for older gamers, but even if you never played the originals, it looks and sounds as good as its competitors.

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Fortunately, it plays even better than the original PlayStation games. Controls are more responsive, environments are brighter (i.e., easier to stay alive in) and most importantly, the first Crash Bandicoot lets you save between any level. Just in case you forget, though, each game has an autosave feature as well. The challenge hasn’t changed at all. Without a doubt, the first game in the trilogy presents the greatest challenge and will truly test your platforming abilities.

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The other two are more forgiving, and while they’re still no cakewalk, they vary the gameplay in numerous ways, with extra relic challenges, a much more diverse set of levels, motorcycle races, chases on top of China’s Great Wall, fleeing from a hungry polar bear.. it’s a wild ride. Coco finally gets the spotlight too, since you can choose her over Crash from the very beginning; they both play the same, but it’s fun to switch it up every now and again anyway.

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And that's that. Whether you go for RPGs, multiplayer, or puzzle solving, there's something here for everyone. Let us know your favorite picks in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Best Xbox One Games for Kids, Best PS4 Games for Kids, and Best Nintendo Switch Games for Kids lists for all your gaming needs!

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Overcooked! 2

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The original Overcooked! garnered a great deal of praise for its quirky mechanics and frantic co-op action, and Overcooked! 2 is no different.

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The core mechanics remain the same, but the sequel adds a host of new features and an even zanier story than its predecessor (but don’t worry; if you never played the original, you’ll still be totally fine with this one). The Onion King, in his great foolishness, read from a forbidden book and brought to life an army of undead bread, called The Unbread, now wreaking havoc on the kingdom. Your goal? Cook stuff. Lots of stuff. Just go with it.

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You’ll be making a wide variety of dishes, from sushi to burgers, adding the necessary ingredients and whipping things up as fast as you can. One of Overcooked! 2’s biggest draws, though, is the level diversity and interconnection with gameplay. You’ll contend with countless obstacles along the way, from kitchen fires to moving walkways, cars on a busy street to waves rocking your kitchen raft, depending on which level you’re tackling at the time.

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Team17 bills it as a co-op game, but it’s completely playable solo if need be, and the toned-down difficulty makes it much more feasibly to play alone than before. The new throw mechanic helps there too. Boasting a lengthy main campaign, extra content, and side puzzles, you’ll be in the kitchen for a long time with this one.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/b3582e8ebd21321cb99706a14b24e1ac.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/b3582e8ebd21321cb99706a14b24e1ac.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"12442","description":"

Parkasaurus

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If you remember Theme Park from years gone by, you’ll have a good idea of Parkasaurus’s foundations. Like the former, players run a theme park, only with dinos as the main exhibits. Along with crafting a quality park layout and entertaining activities for guests, you also manage the dinosaurs on display. Think Jurassic Park, only…no accidents.

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The game gives players a great deal of control over enclosures and the park layout, and each dinosaur type requires a different care strategy to thrive. On top of that, you’ll also gather resources and expand the park’s technology as you grow, and you’ve got employees to manage as well. If it sounds like a lot to manage, that’s because it is.

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Fortunately, the game provides tutorials at necessary points, and it’s a good balance between hand-holding and letting players explore for themselves. Guests also leave reviews based on their experiences, so kinda like the town reviews in Animal Crossing, it gives you some concrete problems you can work on for the future. The graphics are simple, but charming, and the user interface is, mercifully, clean and easy to work with, even if there are a few too many clicks required for certain tasks.

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The game’s still in early access, with its developers actively calling for player input so they can make improvements where needed; it’s a good way to get your younger players involved in thinking about what makes a game good and how they can potentially help make it even better.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f90c69542c74366c3a46b9335e6900db.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/f90c69542c74366c3a46b9335e6900db.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"12441","description":"

LEGO The Incredibles

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LEGO games always build on the success of whatever franchise spawns them, and LEGO: The Incredibles is no different. It combines both the original The Incredibles and its sequel, adding in a new storyline for your enjoyment as well.

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You’ll play as your favorite characters from the Parr family, solve wacky puzzles, and enjoy LEGO’s characteristic dry, tongue-in-cheek humor.

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As you might expect, you utilize each character’s unique strengths to overcome obstacles. But this isn’t simply an Incredibles skin on the typical LEGO game: It’s fully open world, featuring an explorable hub spanning multiple environments, a day and night cycle, progress reports, character customization, and a host of baddies to take down.

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Like any LEGO game, the difficulty never rises too high, but challenge seekers have over 100 characters to unlock and multiple collectibles they can search for. It’s got something for anyone, whether it be a younger gamer not quite skilled yet for more difficult outings, a Pixar fan, a LEGO fan, or just anyone looking for a fun game.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/0ac06def71a36b6b948ade578221bb9a.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/0ac06def71a36b6b948ade578221bb9a.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"12440","description":"

Celeste

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The phrase “Nintendo-hard” might be something you haven’t used in a while, not since the days of Mega Man’s original NES outings or Castlevania’s earlier, brutal installments. But Celeste, from MattMakesGames, resurrected this phrase and added new meaning when it launched earlier this year.

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It’s a retro-style, pixel-art platformer following a young girl (named Madeline, not Celeste) as she climbs the imposing mountain (which is called Celeste) and tries to face her dark side in the process. It’s a compelling story for sure, but the real attraction here is the gameplay. Celeste features hundreds of rooms to work your way through, each with its own theme, requiring a mix of raw platforming, Madeline’s power-ups, and taking advantage of the environment.

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It’s incredibly difficult at times, make no mistake, but the difficulty stems from clever level design more than artificial gimmicks, and the satisfaction you get upon completing a particularly challenging puzzle can’t be measured. For the truly daring, the game also features additional challenges, such as extra puzzles and collectibles forcing an extra layer of strategy out of you beyond just clearing the room.

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Because of the challenge, this one is probably best for the 10-12 range, unless you know your younger child can handle (or would benefit from) the perseverance and critical thinking required.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/98eecb060ee634fd2aad4c1e4bd34866.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/98eecb060ee634fd2aad4c1e4bd34866.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"12439","description":"

Staxel

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It’s the year of farming sims! Or so it may seem. But despite its fix-a-run-down-farm theme, Staxel is more than just a copy of My Time at Portia. It emphasizes farming and relationship building to a greater extent, almost like a cross between Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, with some Minecraft thrown in as well.

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For example, make nice with your fellow residents, and they’ll help you when you need it, and when you and your neighbors work together, it ultimately creates a more vibrant community benefiting everyone. It’s a nice message, but Staxel is, of course, more than just a moral lesson.

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Players craft their gameworld, so no playthrough will be the same. Modern metropolis strike your fancy? Build it. Prefer the simple charms of village life? It’s yours. And if you ever get bored with your daily routine, you can shake things up with a spot of fishing or bug hunting. 

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Staxel makes exploration and caring for your farm more than worthwhile as well, since the resources you get from both drive your customization and expansion, in what turns into a very satisfying and compelling gameplay loop. Combined with multiplayer capabilities, you’ve got a clear winner that will stick around as a staple for a long time. Plus, it’s adorable. Really adorable. Who can resist brightly colored, high resolution block cows?

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d89dc6f0d3a523c5f575ed7646b5a2c1.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinny/d89dc6f0d3a523c5f575ed7646b5a2c1.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"12438","description":"

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

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Level-5’s Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch launched to almost overwhelming praise, with its heartwarming storyline and Studio Ghibli visuals quickly endearing it to many a heart. It had its share of issues, but Level-5 both addressed those issues and created an even more vast and engaging world with the sequel, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.

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Despite being numbered as a sequel, you don’t actually have to play the first game to understand what’s going on. The story follows Ding Dong Dell’s young prince, Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum (yes, he’s part cat), after a coup sees the young prince’s family murdered and Evan himself in exile.

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It sounds pretty heavy, and the T rating description does include some mild animated blood, but the storytelling and animation provide a lighthearted tone throughout Evan’s long journey. Combined with its positive role models and message of healing society’s divides, it’s more than suitable for 9-12 year olds.

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The original was a fairly linear affair—complete main story tasks, collect monsters, do some side quests, and move on. Revenant Kingdom includes those, but also adds in a much larger world to explore and an incredibly addictive kingdom building quest to keep you busy for a long, long time.

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The combat this time ‘round is rather different as well, focusing more on the primary characters instead of their monster familiars; you do have creatures called Higgledies for support, but overall, it’s a more streamlined system like you’d expect from a Western RPG instead of a JRPG. Granted, Revenant Kingdom’s combat lacks the challenge of its predecessor, but those seeking difficulty can find it in the game’s optional corrupt monster battles.

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Yoku's Island Express

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Yoku’s Island Express is a delightful mix of platforming, exploration, and pinball—not something you get every day. Players take control of the titular bug Yoku, unique not just for being a bug, but for his interesting mode of travel as well—a ball. The gorgeous tropical island you explore just so happens to be filled with flippers and bumpers, as well as the usual spike pits and enemies, making movement and puzzle solving much different from the usual platformer.

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Yoku’s mission involves restoring postal service to the island, but the game provides much more to do in the process. From defeating certain enemies to solving the residents’ unique problems and exploring the vast island, you’ll find there’s no shortage of things to do in Yoku’s world. Paired with the vibrant visuals and catch soundtrack, these things come together to form a fun and fantastical adventure.

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Of course, like with pinball, there are the frustrating moments when you can’t quite hit that one spot until the 20th try, but also like pinball, it’s addictive enough to keep you coming back for more. That and the danger of forgetting the main quest in your exploration and side-quest completing are about the only real difficulties in the game as well, making it perfect for gamers of any age and skill level.

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My Time at Portia

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My Time at Portia combines Harvest Moon style life management with Minecraft’s resource framing, throwing in some Rune Factory combat and ultimately delivering an engaging and unique simulation game. In what will seem very familiar to HM fans, players arrive in Portia after taking on the daunting task of repairing “Pa’s” Workshop and eventually grow into their new environment.

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There’s a lot to do in this game, and best of all, you aren’t restricted with time limits. Gathering resources lets you create new things to spruce up your shop and home, but eventually, you’ll expand into the surrounding town, taking on quests for townsfolk, making friends, and basically just making life sunny for everyone. You’ll also venture further afield in your quest to create the best workshop ever, discovering new settlements and materials and fighting monsters along the way.

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Combat is a fairly simple affair, which is fine, given the game’s primary focus on building and creating, but you’ll still need to craft decent weapons and such if you want to stay alive. Like any good life-sim spinoff, you’ve got a plethora of romance and friendship options, with each NPC sporting their own unique personality.

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My Time at Portia is still listed as an early access game. Despite entering early access earlier this year, it’s very much a nearly complete game and continually gets updates.

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Unravel 2

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Unravel 2 continues Yarny’s quirky adventures and intriguing puzzles through amazingly detailed environments. Like Yarny’s first outing, the game tasks players with solving intricate, physics and environment-based puzzles using Yarny’s unique abilities (centered around, you guessed it, yarn). It also revolves around platforming and using those same abilities to traverse the often-dangerous, but always gorgeous game worlds, ranging from serene creeks and forest-like undergrowth to creepy industrial and urban settings.

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The challenge is real with this game, but fortunately the developers provided a substantial hint system, so there’s little chance of being stuck for long, and it makes for satisfying gameplay balance. That balance gets skewed a bit in the extra challenge puzzles, which certainly live up to their name, but these challenges don’t form part of the main story anyway and can be totally ignored if the player wishes.

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There’s also co-op mode, so you or another player can jump in and help a younger gamer who might be struggling or just join in the fun as well. There’s not as much story compared to the original Unravel, but it’s difficult to call that a substantial negative point, when the gameplay itself is as spot-on and absorbing as it is.

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It's not hard to tell a lot of PC games don't exactly have younger audiences in mind, which makes buying for kids a bit tricky. Even more difficult is finding a game with the right difficulty balance to keep their attention without frustrating them.

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In and amongst the titles you're probably playing, though, lies a wealth of PC games for 7-12 year olds. From platforming to retro, puzzle solving and even RPGs, these games are perfect for solo play, playing with friends, or of course, playing together as a family.

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How Do Staxel and My Time at Portia Stand Up to Stardew Valley https://www.gameskinny.com/nt744/how-do-staxel-and-my-time-at-portia-stand-up-to-stardew-valley https://www.gameskinny.com/nt744/how-do-staxel-and-my-time-at-portia-stand-up-to-stardew-valley Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:44:39 -0500 buymymixtape123

Stardew Valley is a highly popular and highly addictive farming simulator made by Eric Barone (better known as "ConcernedApe"). This game took the indie game world by storm when released, building a cult following and being compared favorably to established farming simulator series, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. That being said, with success comes similar games or copy cats, that will try to use the formula but add there own spin to it, like Staxel or My Time at Portia. The question is, how do they compare?

Staxel

Plukit's Staxel is what you'd get if Stardew Valley and Mincraft had a baby. The game has all the farming elements you would expect from a farming simulator -- you can build your farm, plant crops, and take care of animals. You'll also be able to explore, completing quests for the other villagers that inhabit the world.

Some of the things that are different from Stardew Valley are the 3D graphics and first-person view reminiscent of Minecraft, as well as the inclusion of the online multiplayer that Stardew Valley currently lacks.

My Time at Portia

Pathea Games' My Time at Portia is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with Stardew Valley's feel and mechanics. The game has an art style, stamina system, and exploration component similar to Breath of the Wild's. Where the Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon influence comes into play is with the farming and villager relationships aspects of the game.

You start off with a low-level, broken down farm, but if you grind multiple hours, you can eventually upgrade it to a lavish, high-level farm. You can also earn supplies through dungeon crawling. My Time at Portia's relationship system is similar to Stardew Valley, as you must talk, give gifts, and play mini-games wit different villagers to gain their friendship, and even date and marry them. 

my time

I believe that Staxel and My Time at Portia can stack up to Stardew Valley because of their unique offerings to the genre, but I don't think these game will gain the same popularity and acclaim that Stardew Valley got (and is still getting today). Stardew Valley is also still getting ported over to other consoles, and it was released on the Nintendo Switch not too long ago. I think that Staxel and My Time at Portia are definitely worth checking out, but I don't think it will have the lifespan that Stardew Valley has.

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Staxel Guide: Finding Rhino Beetles https://www.gameskinny.com/3k8dg/staxel-guide-finding-rhino-beetles https://www.gameskinny.com/3k8dg/staxel-guide-finding-rhino-beetles Mon, 05 Feb 2018 11:09:12 -0500 Andrew Krajewski

Staxel is the latest Minecraft-esque sandbox game that has garnered people's attention. The charming little farming sim offers plenty to do as players set out to maintain their homesteads. When the farm life becomes overbearing, it's nice to be able to spend a day fishing if you would like, and you can do that in Staxel too. 

To go fishing, you'll need a fishing rack and baitbox. The Staxel community has pointed out, however, that setting up your fishing rack to go fishing can become a tad cumbersome because it requires a baitbox to craft. Baitboxes can be a pain in the butt to make because they require Rhino Beetles.

Rhino beetle required to make fishing rack and baitbox

The elusive Rhino Beetle

Rhino Beetles are bugs that are used for crafting and have been notoriously hard to find (their description even states, "And they said it wasn't possible"). Their scarcity is due to a programming error during an update to the game that the developer said they would fix in an upcoming patch. In the meantime, there are two ways to get your hands on Rhino Beetles:

  1. You can try to find the Rhino Beetles the old-fashioned way -- just grab your net and start searching for them. They spawn on the sides of trees, and as long as you can highlight them with your net, you'll be able to reach them and capture them. Other players in the community have speculated that they spawn more often in the rain, but that hasn't been confirmed.
  2. You can go into creative mode as a workaround to spawn the Rhino Beetle you need. This is the developer's suggestion if you begin to get too frustrated with the current, reduced spawn rate of the bugs. To go into creative mode, use the commands /enablecheats and /creative. 

Developer info on how to get rhino beetles to create fishing rack and baitbox

Once you have your Rhino Beetles, be sure to stop by the general store to pick up a combiner. You'll need it to put together your baitbox for the fishing rack.

Happy Fishing!

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Where have you found Rhino Beetles? Let us know in the comments below, and we'll be sure to keep you updated with new Rhino Beetle locations as we find them!

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Staxel Guide: How to Make Money Faster https://www.gameskinny.com/kb44j/staxel-guide-how-to-make-money-faster https://www.gameskinny.com/kb44j/staxel-guide-how-to-make-money-faster Wed, 24 Jan 2018 12:51:37 -0500 Littoface

Staxel is a promising new game in Early Access which combines elements of Minecraft and Harvest Moon into one adorable game. The game is still under development, but it already has a huge variety of items and places to explore, as well as tons of activities to keep players busy, from farming to bug catching.

Right from the beginning, players are given access to two main shops and a few market stalls which display a huge amount of items for customizing your home and the village, crafting and creating, and otherwise enjoying the game. This tantalizing catalog of goodies comes at a price -- literally. While some of the more essential items, like tools and seeds, are fairly cheap, the more fun items like crafting and cooking stations, furniture, and building materials are more expensive.

How do you get enough money to afford all the fun toys and customization options? We've got you covered in this guide to quick money making in Staxel!

How to Sell in Staxel

Selling in Staxel is easy, and pretty much any item can be sold, from random rocks you find lying around to creepy crawlies. Simply visit the vendors in the village, place an item on their "sell boxes," then interact with the box itself (or interact with the item to take it back if you change your mind).

Once you gather enough money, you can also invest in a shipping station, which allows you to sell items right from your farm.

Where you sell an item has no effect on the price you receive for it; for the most part, items have a fixed price unless you sell a lot of the same item within a short time span. That's because there is an element of supply and demand coded into the game. With some advance planning, though, you can avoid a loss! We cover this more in-depth in the "more time-consuming" guide below.

Now that you know how to sell, you're ready to learn how to make some quick cash.

How to Make Money in Staxel, the Easy Way

Money in Staxel is called Petals, and there are plenty of ways to earn it. Here are some ideas for making quick money:

  • Buy a bug net and a fishing rod from the supermarket, and catch bugs and fish. While each bug and fish are not worth that much individually, spending some time catching a bunch does add up.
  • Explore other biomes for unique items and bugs. One of the best places to get items to sell is at the beach, where you will find scattered seashells, corals, and other items which sell for a decent amount of money. Bring your fishing rod along and you'll also be able to catch some ocean life to sell.
  • Though you will need them for building, you can also sell raw materials like stones and wood.
  • It's an obvious one, but worth mentioning regardless: plant some seeds, and water them daily to produce crops.
  • Sometimes you come across an item called star jelly while you're cutting down trees or clearing patches of grass/weeds. Selling this item nets you 210 per jelly! It's not a common drop, but it's worth exploring a bit and clearing some trees and brush (you can always sell the raw materials from doing this, like we mentioned before).
Some More Nefarious Ways to Make Money

A lot of the easiest money in Staxel can be made from scavenging. However, there are some more ... morally questionable methods of getting rich quick:

Everything in the game can be taken apart … which means the absolutely easiest way to make a lot of money in a short amount of time is to take apart someone's home or a part of the village and sell the blocks and furniture. This is by far the easiest way to amass a lot of cash quickly (the village fountain alone is worth 1,200 petals) … if you can live with yourself, that is!

The villagers don't seem to care that you do this, although you may potentially exclude yourself from quests. (According to the Staxel team, there are consequences for doing this, but we did not come across them in our playthrough. Keep in mind the game is in Early Access, though, and this aspect of the game is very likely to change!)

You can also steal from the cash registers in the village shops, but this is not advisable, as it renders them unusable for a while. 

If you feel bad stealing from the villagers, there is an abandoned market on the edge of town that you can take apart and sell for a profit. No harm no foul ... right?

Making Money in Staxel, the More Time-Consuming Way

Making some quick cash is a good way to get started, but you might want to create a more sustainable, long-term money-making scheme. Luckily, farming is all about sustainability. The best way to make money in Staxel is through farming. Planting and harvesting crops, as well as growing livestock and chickens, provides you with a continuous source of income. Of course, this will also require more work. The game does a good job of introducing you to the various aspects of farm life through the tutorial quest line, but we have a few further tricks of the trade to ensure you get the most money back from your farming career.

Making money with animals:
  • Get a chicken coop and build a barn as soon as possible. You can buy a chicken coop, feeders, and food from the supermarket in the village, while a barn can be built with the help of Aliza early in the main quest line.
    Set up an apiary to harvest some sweet honey.
  • Animals are an investment that will only make you a profit if you take proper care of them. Happy, well-fed animals produce items you can sell; sad, hungry ones do not.
  • Harvest poop. Cows and other livestock create a daily, all-natural fertilizer in the form of manure. Don't waste money on fertilizer from the shop -- simply use your livestock's droppings to create better crops.
  • Snatch up any miracle water you find on sale to eliminate a crop's growth time and mature it immediately. We recommend you use this for your highest-yielding crop (usually the one with the most expensive seeds).
  • Some items you get from your livestock, like wool, can be used as materials to craft things worth more than the raw material.
Making money with crops:
  • Use a seed maker for the potential to receive special high-quality golden seeds.
  • Make sure you plant your seeds in the right season, and with enough time left for them to mature before the season's end.
  • Don't plant too much of the same thing: although prices for most items are fixed, there is an element of supply and demand in the game, and selling a lot of one crop will eventually lower its selling price.
  • Don't forget trees and berry bushes! Fruit trees are a great way to make petals, but they also take the longest to turn a profit. Once they're mature, though, the fruit will continue growing back after you pick them while it's in season.
  • Like with animal raw materials, some crops are worth more in a different form. Turn fruits into jelly and berries into jam for a tidy profit.

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In short: Plant, catch, destroy, and reap the results in the form of sweet, sweet petals. Enjoy your new riches!

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Beginner's Guide to Staxel: Tips and Tricks for Getting Started https://www.gameskinny.com/3rsd5/beginners-guide-to-staxel-tips-and-tricks-for-getting-started https://www.gameskinny.com/3rsd5/beginners-guide-to-staxel-tips-and-tricks-for-getting-started Wed, 24 Jan 2018 11:34:30 -0500 Littoface

Staxel is a delightful new Harvest Moon-meets-Minecraft-style game from developers Plukit. It's currently in Early Access and will likely undergo changes before its official launch. If you're diving into the game while it's still in development, though, this guide is for you.

There are plenty of things to do in Staxel, and if you're just trying the game out for the first time, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are elements of farming, building, crafting, landscaping, fishing and bug-catching, developing the town, and much more. At this moment, Staxel is a completely open sandbox game with no stamina or health system and no combat, which means how you play is entirely up to you. If you're feeling a little lost in the vast realm of possibilities, here are some of our tips to getting started on building a bustling village and a thriving farm.

Note: We tested the Early Access game on a keyboard in single-player mode, but these tips will still be helpful whether you're playing alone or with friends! 

Keyboard Tricks and Shortcuts

You can view the default key bindings for both a keyboard and a controller at any point in the game by entering the game's menu and selecting Control Hints. But as you play you will discover further tips and tricks, and a few buttons that are not mentioned in the menu:

  • Watch the lower left corner of the screen to see what effect pressing the left or right mouse button will have. Right-clicking on a patch of grass, for instance, will clear it, while left-clicking on a rock with the hammer selected will break it. Most of these instances are pretty self-evident, but it's worth keeping an eye on the UI tips to learn the finer workings of the mechanics.
    When placing items, hold down the left mouse button to view, and use the mouse wheel to rotate the piece to your liking.
  • Holding down the left mouse button when using a tool will power up the tool, saving you time. Some tools' power-up will only spread to other similar blocks, making it easier to clear a certain kind of block quickly. (For example, holding down the left mouse button with the shovel on a grass block will only remove other grass blocks around it, leaving other types of blocks untouched).
  • Although there are hotkeys for the items in the top row of your inventory, you can also cycle through them with the mouse wheel.
  • Hold down Left Shift when buying from a Lief or Aliza's stores to buy 10 of the same item at once.
  • Right-click on an item on the ground to pick it up. Groups of the same item (like wood, for example) will be picked up at the same time if they're next to each other on the ground.
  • Some actions (like removing grass and weeds) can be repeated by holding down the left mouse button and moving the cursor around.
Interacting With NPCs in Staxel

Part of the fun of Staxel is in getting to know the quirky villagers who inhabit your world. These characters have some great personalities, and befriending them is a fun aspect of the game. Here are some tips regarding NPC interaction:
You can help out villagers every day by talking to them then running various errands for them.

  • Visit Rowan at the local pub to listen to some juicy rumors -- in other words, to find out which villagers could use some help.
  • Sometimes you can tell when a villager wants to talk to you when they start waving their arms at you.
  • You can see the current location of every villager by checking the map (M on the keyboard).
  • Occasionally, you will find random items like socks and phones in unexpected places. These belong to the villagers -- speak to the NPCs to discover who lost their socks on your farm (but not what they were doing to cause that to even happen in the first place. Some questions are best left unanswered.).
  • You can develop your little village into a more thriving metropolis by proceeding down the quest line that begins with the tutorial.
Creating and Exploring

A huge part of Staxel is the creative license you're given to do pretty much anything. Each world is large and procedurally generated, and exploring it can be a rewarding experience.

  • If you've strayed too far from home and are lost, you can always orient yourself by opening the map. The map only shows your immediate surroundings, but it also always displays the current location of every villager.
  • You can move while the map is open. This makes getting back to the village easier and quicker.
  • Select a recipe to have its ingredients show up on your screen even with the inventory closed, to keep track of what you're missing easier.
  • Although you can create a workshop on your farm grounds by buying machines like the power saw, you don't have to -- Aliza has the basics available in her shop, and you can use them anytime for free.
  • There is very little mining to be done, at least as far as we can tell -- we spent a full in-game day digging straight down and another day digging straight forward, and it appears to be rock all the way down.
    There are, however, other biomes to discover. Tired of the same view? Explore the world to find snowy mountains, sandy beaches, and more. Each biome also has its own items to find, like corals and seashells at the beach.
  • Structures like the farm must be built within a certain physical parameter and must contain the items listed on the structure's building sign. Other than these requirements, you are free to design and assemble your buildings in any way you wish. (For instance, as long as your farm has a roof, walls, a door, and two troughs, the game doesn't care if you decide to craft it in the shape of a pink castle).
General Staxel Tips and Tricks

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to play Staxel, here are a few more general tips for enjoying the game:

  • We recommend following the tutorial quest line if this is your first time playing. The tutorial guides you through the finer details of the game's mechanics and awards you a number of free items as rewards, from tools to chickens.
  • Seasons are 16 in-game days long.
  • If you're missing a bug or a fish from your collection and you can't seem to find it anywhere, purchase an item catalogue and a shipping station at Lief's supermarket to gain instant access to a huge amount of items, including bugs and fish. You don't need to wait until the next morning to receive your shipment, either -- click to "expedite" your order and receive it immediately.
  • Where you sell items from makes no difference on the price. You can sell items to the vendors at the village market, or use the shipping station once you set it up.
  • You can get most of the tools for free by doing the tutorial. The tools you receive through Farm Fan's and Maximillian's quest lines are: hoe, watering can, hammer, shovel, and axe. The rest of the tools (most notably the bug net and the pickax) are available at Lief's store for a pretty low price.
  • Nearly everything in the game can be taken apart with no repercussions, including villager homes. 

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With these beginner's tips and tricks, you can enter the world of Staxel and enjoy the game's freedom! Stay tuned to GameSkinny for all your tips and guides to Staxel.

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Staxel Early Access Impressions: Village Life for the Restless https://www.gameskinny.com/r1cs6/staxel-early-access-impressions-village-life-for-the-restless https://www.gameskinny.com/r1cs6/staxel-early-access-impressions-village-life-for-the-restless Wed, 24 Jan 2018 10:24:28 -0500 Littoface

If you're a fan of world-building games, you may want to add Staxel to your watch list. Created by indie dev Plukit and published by Humble Bundle, this cute little voxel game is currently in Early Access, and though it still feels rough around the edges, it has the promise to become a great addition to anyone who loves creating a little digital world of their own.

Staxel is a sandbox farming/world-building indie game with a visually appealing style and unobtrusive and pleasing music. More importantly, it is loaded with plenty of content and a large, procedurally generated world to explore. Comparisons to other dig-and-build games are inevitable, so let's get them out of the way right off the bat: At a glance, Staxel looks like a 3D version of Terraria; after some time playing, it becomes clear that the game plays more like a mix of Minecraft and Harvest Moon.

Like Minecraft and Harvest Moon, there are elements of farming, building, raising animals, fishing, bug catching and so much more. Unlike other games like it, though, Staxel doesn't push you to do any of those things. There are no enemies, and the mechanics will feel familiar to anyone who's played any other farming sim or world builder, featuring first-person exploration and an inventory with hotkeys you can cycle through with the mouse wheel. The tutorial offers a very basic introduction, and further (optional) quests guide you through the mechanics of game aspects such as building and keeping (adorable!) farm animals.

Besides this guidance, though, players are free to play the game however they want. As soon as you start the game, you can follow the quest line, or you can completely disregard it, buy yourself a net, and go bug hunting. You can destroy the entire village and rebuild it from scratch. You can go exploring in the vast and varied landscape beyond your farm. You can delve into the building and cooking, spending all your play time searching for ingredients or materials. You can use your farmland for growing crops, or you can grab a shovel and dig straight down, just because. There are no penalties for forgetting to feed your cat or forgetting to sleep, or even for ending the in-game day in the middle of nowhere.

This all means that, at least at this moment, there is no wrong way to play Staxel. This is both the game's strength and its weakness. On one hand, the freedom to play however you want feels fantastic. Other world-building games like Minecraft and Terraria generate a sense of urgency through combat, while the day-night and season cycles of farming-focused games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon mean you spend half of every in-game day watering and harvesting your crops (a stamina system further limits your ability to play indefinitely). In Staxel, however, there is no direction whatsoever, which means players can do whatever they want without having to work around a time limit and without being pushed to complete routine tasks.

On the other hand, this lack of direction makes Staxel feel extremely overwhelming from the get-go. There is a huge amount of items available for sale at the various shops right from the start (the villagers also don't seem to mind if you gouge huge holes in their homes to steal materials and furniture). The ability to do anything you want also comes with a critical downside: the lack of incentive to do anything at all. Why should you make money when you can just hijack whatever you want instead of buying it? Why bother buying pet food if nothing happens to your pet when you forget to feed him? An item catalog makes things like achievements even more trivial: no need to go searching for bugs, just place an order for whatever bug you're missing and have it delivered to you. Ding! Achievement unlocked. Don't you feel accomplished?

Of course, it bears repeating that Staxel is currently still in Early Access, which means it is still undergoing changes. Plukit has created a stylish little game with tons of freedom, quirky villagers, and a pretty appealing combination of exploration, creation, and farming. An online multiplayer right from the beginning is another thing the game has going for it, since creating things is always more fun with friends. Now it's up to the developers to find the right balance between freedom and direction. For now, Staxel is a gem in the rough with heart; hopefully it will emerge from Early Access in a more polished form. 

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