Simulation Games   Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Simulation Games   RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Hokko Life Review: A Familiar Experience Mon, 03 Oct 2022 10:18:33 -0400 Alex Perez

The start of the fall season typically marks the beginning of what many consider the “gauntlet” of juggernaut game releases. This year is no different. But on top of the big releases like Gotham Knights, God of War Ragnarok, and Callisto Protocol, there are plenty of smaller scale games that come out around this time that can be diamonds in the rough. 

Hokko Life is a cozy farm/life-sim that mirrors a lot of what Animal Crossing does and is entering its 1.0 release (it’s been available on PC in Early Access June 2021). While it offers an interesting blend of ideas, like deeper customization, a bigger area to explore outside of the village and town, and an array of bugs and items to collect,  there are a lot of games that do better than what Hokko Life is trying to do.

Hokko Life opens almost exactly like Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Gamecube. You’ll start by creating and customizing your character, though the suite is surprisingly limited for a game that establishes deeper levels of customization in other areas later on. Once you’ve selected your hair and other features, there is a very brief cutscene of your character on a train and … you’re at your destination – a town in need of sprucing up. 

You’ll quickly find yourself at the local inn, chatting with the residents, and moving into the village nearby before starting your quest to revive the area and bringing in new citizens and shops. It’s a very run-of-the-mill introduction, though an accessible one that doesn’t burden you with too much information or too many mechanics. 

Hokko Life starts slow, perhaps slower than other games in the genre. In the first few days, you're told to just "enjoy life" while waiting for things to happen. However, there isn’t much to do in those initial days except chop trees, pick flowers, and catch bugs. The tools to mine, dig, fish, and craft are all given quite a few days after you arrive. That means there’s a lot of standing around or going to bed very early. It’s an odd and unnatural design choice, which leads you to cutting most of your initial week or so short just to get to what’s after.

As you progress, unlocking more blueprints, meeting new anthropomorphic animals searching for new horizons, and generally exploring the world around you, the gameplay loop remains just about the same as when you first hopped off the train. From chopping down trees for wood and planting new trees to create more wood (there’s a lot of chopping and planting), to mining rocks for ore and charcoal, fishing, catching butterflies, and crafting new designs and items to customize the village and its homes, there aren’t too many big surprises along the way for life-sim fans. 

While easing players into the mechanics like this is a nice idea, it’s a double-edged sword. It gives them time to understand things, but it also takes a long time to get into the meat of Hokko Life. Once you finally – and truly – arrive, you’ll be met with an extremely simplistic and sometimes frustratingly opaque suite of mechanics and systems.

Even helping new residents move in the early going isn’t as straightforward as it seems: gather materials, choose a design, place a house, and wait for it to build. Your first new citizen is given to you, but the rest require you to meet them at the Inn. The game never tells you that, meaning you could easily miss out on new shopkeeps and other interesting characters, leaving you to amble around the village aimlessly. 

Despite its simplicity and initially obtuse nature, there is a lot to do in Hokko Life once you reach the middle parts of Spring. The map begins to open up, with you gaining access to new areas like the mines and the farm (if you focus on the right in-game challenges, like waving at certain number of neighbors or picking "X" number of flowers).

The problem with that burgeoning map size is that Hokko Life has long loading screens everywhere. There’s a lot of back and forth with buying and selling things, getting crafting materials, talking to one resident before running to another to deliver an item. That’s normal for a life-sim, the issue is that these transitions are rough at best. 

The town square is separated from the village, which requires a loading screen. Heading to the beach from the village requires a loading screen. Going north towards the mines requires three loading screens. And so on. It all works to form a quite unfriendly user experience, and while time is not the enemy here like it is in Animal Crossing (you can just sleep to the next day or even sleep to the evening), there is maybe a bit too much traversal and thumb-twiddling. 

Hokko Life can have its relaxing moments, though. There are times where mining rocks for charcoal, copper, and iron, planting and tending a forest or garden, or making a unique furniture design puts you into a nice flow state, where the loop feels not only fun, but also gratifying. The soundtrack also adds a layer of comfort.

The songs are very easy to listen to and are quite cozy; they help encapsulate the overall zen aesthetic of the game. The sound design is well done, too, full of calming sounds like waves crashing softly or birds chirping gleefully in the distance, all of which coalesce with the soundtrack to create natural soundscapes that make each biome and season feel alive and soothing.

Though the game has been in Steam Early Access for more than a year, there are still bugs that plague the overall experience, at least during our review period. Early on in my playthrough, a bridge leading to a new area just completely disappeared. To reach the resources on the other side, I wasted an entire in-game week just to plant trees, harvest them, and rebuild the bridge. The game even made the very bizarre choice of prioritizing the growth of a tree that was placed next to the bridge instead of the construction of the bridge.

There were also issues with the in-game recipe shop offered by the master crafter, Sally. Often, the game wouldn’t load the designs that were offered, and I had to restart the game twice before it fixed itself. It was a very bizarre situation that really hampered the experience.

Hokko Life Review – The Bottom Line


  • Great sound design.
  • Excellent soundtrack.
  • Crafting experience is surprisingly deep and has a ton of freedom to it.
  • No fighting against the clock, whether real-time or in-game


  • Villagers aren’t well designed.
  • The shops’ daily rotations are extremely limited.
  • Bugs.
  • A few too many loading screens.
  • Early game is slow with no clear direction.

Hokko Life may add some quality-of-life features to the life/farming-sim genre, such as bulk building and a robust crafting system, but it ultimately feels directionless, lacking the charm many other genre titles have.

Some of its systems are unique and add a new layer to traditional mechanics that other games should employ, but there’s a lot of waiting around “to do things,” and it’s often unclear what’s required to move the game forward. Hokko Life can be fun at times; you just have to really work for it.

[Note: Team 17 provided the copy of Hokko Life used for this review.]

Disney Dreamlight Valley: How to Get Dream Shards Wed, 21 Sep 2022 11:05:20 -0400 Hayes Madsen

Like with any life-sim, Disney Dreamlight Valley has plenty of grinding in store to collect resources and items. One of the more elusive items since the game's release has been Dream Shards, which aren't just valuable but are also required for a few different quests.

Here's everything you need to know about getting Dream Shards in Disney Dreamlight Valley.  

Where to Find Dream Shards

Dream Shards are glowing pink crystals that will pop up from time to time, and there are currently three different ways of getting them. Keep in mind they are simply an item in your inventory once you collect them, so be careful not to sell them off.

Clear Night Thorns

The first and easiest way of getting Dream Shards is simply by clearing Night Thorns, the purple vines that infest the various biomes of Dreamlight Valley. Each time you remove a thorn there's a small chance it'll drop a Dream Shard, but eventually, that option will run dry.

When you first begin the game, the main areas will be infested with these vines, so you'll naturally get Dream Shards as you clear them out. Once you've removed them, they will slowly respawn. The same can be said for each new biome you open up, such as Dazzle Beach and the Sunlit Plateau. Clear out all of the Night Thorns for easy items. 

Feed Animals Their Favorite Food

All of the little critters that run around Dreamlight Valley, like Squirrels and Sea Turtles, can be fed, and each one has a specific type of food it likes.

You can only feed an animal once a day but every time you feed one its favorite food, there's a chance it'll drop a Dream Shard. We have a guide going over each animal's favorite food

Dig Up Sparkling Ground

The third and final way of getting Dream Shards is by digging up sparkling sections of ground scattered throughout the world. This method of getting Dream Shards has been added post-launch.

Each day these sparkling spots will spawn across Dreamlight Valley, and as with the two other methods, there's a chance (not a guarantee) you'll get a Dream Shard each time you dig one up.

How to Use Dream Shards

Dream Shards are required for certain quests, including "The Curse," so it's not a bad idea to store some away in one of your chests. That being said, they can be used in crafting to make two other useful items.

  • Ten Dream Shards can be crafted into 250 Dreamlight, which is used to open up new biomes and areas.
  • Five Night Shards and two Dream Shards make a Purified Night Shard, which can be gifted to a friend for a sizable boost in friendship.

Night Shards are more common than Dream Shards and can be found by removing thorns and digging. You should be able to find at least a few Dream Shards every day, so don't be afraid to use them for crafting if you need a little boost to Dreamlight or Friendship. 

Now that you now how to get plenty of Dream Shards, head to our Disney Dreamlight Valley guides hub for even more tips and help. 

Disney Dreamlight Valley: How to Get Emeralds Tue, 13 Sep 2022 19:51:35 -0400 Hayes Madsen

Mining is one of the many activities you can undertake in Disney Dreamlight Valley, letting you uncover precious gems that can be used in quests and sold for a pretty penny. While you don't have to collect every gem you mine, some are well-worth keeping  like Emeralds.

Emeralds are used for the quests "Memory Magnification" and "Lost in the Dark Grove." To help cut down on the time you'll need to spend searching for them, here's how to get Emeralds in Disney Dreamlight Valley

Where to Mine for Emeralds

Focus your Emerald search on the Forest of Valor and the Glade of Trust biomes. If you haven't unlocked those areas yet, both cost 3,000 Dreamlight to unlock. If you need more Dreamlight, just go about your daily tasks or open up the menu and pick a few Dreamlight objectives to complete. 

Once you've opened these areas, mine the black rocks found in the area  but keep in mind that there's no guarantee you'll find Emeralds. As usual, it's a good idea to bring along a friend with the mining skill while breaking rocks. You'll get more resources, and level up their friendship. 

Also keep in mind that it takes mining nodes roughly 4-5 minutes to respawn, so you might want to loop back and forth between the areas until you find the Emeralds you need. For reference we've highlighted the mining spots in both areas with red arrows, so you know exactly where to go. 

Forest of Valor Mining Nodes

Glade of Trust Mining Nodes

Where to Sell Emeralds

Like with other gems, Emeralds can be sold at any of Goofy's stalls, with the easiest one to find in Peaceful Meadow. A basic Emerald sells for 325 Star Coins, but if you get your hands on a Shiny Emerald, you can sell it for 1,300 Star Coins. Shiny versions of gems occasionally pop up as you're mining, and you don't need to do anything different to find them. 

With that, you should have everything you need to find a few Emeralds, whether it's for quests or simply to sell. For even more tips and walkthroughs, make sure to check out our Disney Dreamlight Valley guides hub

Goat Simulator 3 Brings Udder Chaos to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox This Fall Fri, 10 Jun 2022 13:27:59 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Here we goat again. Pilgor the goat will be back to her antics once more when Goat Simulator 3 launches later this fall for PC via Epic Games, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S. The sequel to 2014's Goat Simulator hoofs it right past Part 2 in expectedly cheeky fashion, bringing chaos to the island of San Angora. The game was announced during the 2022 Summer Games Fest by way of a cinematic trailer full of explosions, jetpacks, car crashes, and, of course, plenty of headbutting. 

Upping the ante, Goat Simulator 3 will feature 4-player local and online co-op at launch. According to developer Coffee Stain Studios, you'll be able wreak havoc in the game's sandbox, as well as go head-to-head in seven different minigames (though those haven't been revealed just yet). 

Just as in the original game, there will be plenty to uncover across San Angora, as well, with collectibles, secrets, and quests aplenty. You'll also be able to customize Pilgor's "head, back, feet, body, horns and furs with over 300 different gear parts to choose from, from toilet rolls to tea tray and other actual clothing items ... [and] some gear parts will mutate your playstyle by giving you new abilities."

Pre-orders are available from certain retailers, such as Target, which lists the game's release date as November 11, 2022. That date isn't confirmed by Coffee Stain and could just be a place holder, though it would put Goat Simulator 3 on the tail end of its "Fall 2022" release window. Those who pre-order the Pre-Udder edition will receive extra in-game gear, though what that is hasn't yet been detailed, either. 

Stay tuned for more, and check out the trailer at the top of this article to see Goat Simulator 3 in action. 

V Rising Early Access Review: A Bloody Good Time Wed, 01 Jun 2022 13:19:12 -0400 Michael Feghali

We've gotten our fair share of vampire games over the last few years, and it's been a mixed bag, to say the least. Now, Stunlock Studios have released V Risingan open-world vampire survival game in Steam Early Access.

V Rising lets you take on the role of a vampire that has awakened and been stripped of its powers after hibernating for centuries. You'll rebuild your vampire empire and reclaim power while quenching your thirst for blood. While the basic premise should be familiar to anyone who has played games in this genre, V Rising has a uniqueness to it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

V Rising Early Access Review: A Bloody Good Time

V Rising features several game modes. In PvE, you can play solo or cooperate with other vampires on a server to take down enemies and revive each other. By joining a PvP server, you can attack each other and raid castles, and it is recommended to play alongside some friends to help each other out.

As a vampire that was recently stripped of abilities, your character is still powerful but also vulnerable. You can get swarmed by groups of enemies easily if you aren’t constantly moving around. So you'll have to pick your fights and avoid unnecessary combat when you're low on health.

Initially, melee attacks with your sword are the go-to approach for taking down foes. But you don't put your vampire powers to good use this way. Casting flashy ranged abilities allows you to defeat enemies from a safe distance without exposing yourself to their attacks. There is no mana or stamina bar, but there is a cooldown for each ability, and you’ll need to use every tool in your arsenal to survive. Learning how and when to use each ability at your disposal is key.

Sword combat is fun, but things become extremely satisfying once you learn to cycle different abilities so that you're constantly casting spells without worrying about the cooldown timer.

When enemies are weakened, you can feed on their blood to refill your blood pool, essential for keeping you alive. In addition, feeding on blood grants you bonus effects depending on the type of enemy (warrior, rogue, creature, etc.). Also, depending on the quality of the blood, your character can unlock temporary buffs based on a tier system. For example, feeding on creatures will initially grant you increased movement speed at the first tier. Once you gain enough blood quality to reach the second tier, you’ll also get increased sun resistance.

In true vampiric fashion, you’ll have to sniff out bosses by following the scent of their blood across the map. The game does a great job of giving each of the 37 bosses a unique look and set of abilities to ensure that each encounter feels different than the previous.

Unlike most RPGs, there is no experience system for leveling up your character. Instead, your power is determined by the gear that you have equipped. While bosses do put up a good fight, none of them feel particularly unfair or overpowered as long as your gear is sufficiently powerful. Tracking and defeating bosses rewards not only resources but also new abilities and spells. For instance, defeating the first boss and feeding on its blood grants you the ability to transform into a wolf for faster traversal.

If there are two things that vampires hate it is silver and the daylight. While the former deals continuous DPS, it isn't as persistent as the latter, which proves to be your most dangerous foe in V Rising. The day and night cycle means that you'll need to be very careful when moving around when it's sunny. 

You can be in the sun for a few seconds at a time before your health starts to deplete rapidly. The direction of the sun will also vary as the day passes so you won't be able to stay in the same spot for too long.

Of course, you could always wait things out by sleeping in your coffin, but those brave enough to venture out during the day must hop between spots of shade and stay in the shadows. This can be done by taking cover behind trees and structures as you move around.

Within my first few hours playing, though, it became apparent that this is primarily a survival game with few vampire elements added to the mix. V Rising takes a step back from the typical vampire activities and puts most of the focus on crafting and building.

You’ll start off by crafting makeshift weapons and equipment just to get yourself going, though you’ll have a fully-fledged castle with a sawmill, furnace, and blood press to conduct all your typical vampire activities soon enough.

Here, managing resources and being efficient is key for quick progression. Grinding for resources can be a slogfest, so you’ll need to optimize the process as much as possible by taking note of the exact number of resources needed and having multiple refinement stations working in tandem.

There is no worse feeling than making a long journey from your castle and back only to realize that you are just short of the requirements and must make another trip across the map. While you can fast-travel to certain locations, you cannot take materials with you; you'll often need to make the long journey back to your base on foot.

The world of Vardoran is expansive and diverse, consisting of dense forests, vast farmlands, and snowy mountains.  Traversing this hostile world is no easy task. Almost every NPC you come across will instantly attack you. In this hostile environment, NPCs will even battle it out with each other, which can prove to be helpful.

While the core gameplay loop and mechanics aren’t entirely original, V Rising has a certain uniqueness to it that kept me hooked for hours on end. The highly addictive objective system helps guide you without holding your hand. For instance, you will need leather to perform certain upgrades, but the game does not tell you where to get it. Instead, you’ll need to figure that out for yourself or refer to a guide on how to get leather. Completing these quests will help familiarize you with the different refinement stations and raw materials without overwhelming new players.

Customizing the look of your vampire, however not that important given the top-down perspective, is a nice touch. Being able to tweak your character’s hairstyle, skin tone, and physical features lends a sense of ownership to your vampire kingdom. 

One feature that V Rising desperately needs, though, is a photo mode. It's an oversight that you can't fully appreciate the grandiosity of your castles from the top-down perspective after spending so much time building them. Even disabling the HUD isn't an option, which makes taking screenshots even trickier

Of course, the game could benefit from some quality-of-life improvements and finishing touches, as well, but V Rising is very close to being a finished product. Throughout my time with the game, I never encountered any game-breaking bugs or performance issues that cannot be ironed out in upcoming updates.

V Rising Early Access Review — The Bottom Line



  • Fluid and engaging combat.
  • Deep crafting system.
  • Large world with plenty to explore.


  • Top-down perspective can be limiting.
  • Minor technical hiccups.


Early Access games tend to be hit or miss, but V Rising has shown great promise with its deep crafting system, engaging gameplay, and addictive objective system. V Rising has quickly built a large fanbase and is already charting among the Steam games with the most concurrent players.

The overall state of the game is impressive given that it is still in Early Access; only time will tell if it can compete with the likes of Valheim. V Rising has plenty to offer at a competitive price of $19.99, making it a no-brainer for fans of action role-playing and survival games.

[Note: Stunlock Studios provided the copy of V Rising used for this Early Access review.] 

My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory Thu, 26 May 2022 13:29:28 -0400 Josh Broadwell

On my first day in Sandrock, a man in a cape swore to defend the town with the power of his chiseled chin, and a yak zealot tried getting me to drink yak milk when we first met. On my second day in Sandrock, I collapsed after running out of stamina while trying to gather enough resources for a simple building project.

If this sounds a lot like My Time at Portia, you’re not wrong. My Time at Sandrock is a follow-up, after all, and in many respects, it's a crafting-centered desert skin stretched over Portia’s venerable bones. It’s got everything you’d expect from a life-sim, from dating and town improvement to item building and even farming, and while it does most of these things very well, it doesn’t really try anything we haven’t seen before.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Some excessive grinding makes Sandrock a chore at times, but it’s so charming and finely crafted that you can’t help but fall in love.

My Time at Sandrock Early Access Review: Grind for Glory

My Time at Sandrock starts with your arrival in the eponymous town, after tailoring your builder to your heart's content with a surprisingly detailed character creator. You're here not to fix up your dear grandad’s old farm, but to take over from the former builder Mason, who seems rather relieved to be putting the desert oasis behind him. It’s not long before you find out why. Yan, the town commissioner, has a tendency to bully builders – and everyone else – into doing whatever he wants, typically without much recompense if he can get away with it.

Still, you’re here and determined to make the best of it, bringing peace – or “telesis,” as one out-of-place instance of the game’s randomly implemented parlance calls it – to the town and its residents. That means taking on their requests and building items ranging from the useful, such as an elevator that lets salvagers reach valuable materials in dangerous places, to the convenient, like an umbrella seat near the local oasis.

It’s a winning formula we’ve seen before, and once you get into a pattern of crafting, socializing, and exploring, it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in Sandrock. Or it would be if it didn’t keep doing its best to get in the way and make itself a chore. 

You can do a surprising number of things with Sandrock's character tools, and some things you probably you shouldn't do.

Crafting games always require a certain amount of grinding, but Sandrock takes things a bit too far. Consider your recycler, the only way to get a handful of important materials for main missions in the early game. You’ll need to find the right resources from the right locations to feed it, though there’s a chance during scavenging that you won’t end up with what you want anyways. Then there’s the recycler itself.

Say you’re after four copper sticks. Ideally, you put in four pieces of copper scrap and get the sticks. Instead, it took 15 copper scraps and almost two days of fuel to get what I needed. Fuel is, thankfully, easy to come by, but you also need water to power every machine at your workshop. Later, you can get a dew collector to make water gathering easier, but for a while, you’re stuck getting dew off plants. 10 dew stacks add one percentage point of water to your tank, and you get where this is going.

Done well, these kinds of loops are supremely satisfying and even relaxing, but in its Early Access phase, Sandrock asks a bit too much of you to really be enjoyable in its opening five hours or so — even 12 and 15 hours in don't change things much quite yet. Even after you get better machines and a stockpile of materials, most blueprints require too much time to build and effort – getting copper to smelt into bars to turn into 10 copper screws and so on. 

Much of it just feels like busywork right now, though Sandrock is also happy to let you be as not-busy as you want. From what I can tell, no main missions or side missions have time limits, so if you want to take a week to make those copper screws, spending the rest of your time chatting with folks or exploring ruins, you’re free to do it as long as you have the interest and the stamina.

I can’t say any of the characters grabbed me emotionally, but they’re a cheerful, sometimes bizarre, bunch that almost always has something interesting to say. And the ruins you can explore are fine, but nothing as in-depth as Stardew's, for example (that's not to mention how few easily-findable items give any substantial amount of stamina to keep going for too long).

In the end, though, I was happy to keep playing My Time at Sandrock because it has such a strong sense of place, a sense that only grows as your work helps contribute to the town’s growth. Expanding businesses, new conveniences, new features, and a general sense of growing well-being are the fruits of your labor, direct effects of your actions that you often don’t see in similar games.

Considering Sandrock is still in Early Access, I imagine the rougher points will gradually be smoothed out so what makes it charming and enjoyable can shine through even stronger.

[Note: Pathea Games provided the copy of My Time at Sandrock used for this EA review.]

Prehistoric Kingdom Early Access Review: Exploring the Alpha of Dino Park Sims Thu, 12 May 2022 15:54:41 -0400 Jason D'Aprile

Blue Meridian's dinosaur park sim, Prehistoric Kingdom, is certainly taking its sweet time to completion. While the game had a brief semi-open early test a while ago, it's actually been in development for years and has only now hit Early Access status on Steam and the Epic Game Store.

We need to emphasize the "early" part heavily, as that $30 price tag feels more like a pre-purchase with an instantly playable, limited dino sandbox to give players a taste of what's to come.

Timed remarkably well with the release of the (hopefully) final Jurassic World movie, Prehistoric Kingdom bears a lot of obvious similarities with the Jurassic World Evolution games. Both are dino-obsessed park creation and management simulations. Yet each is crafted with a somewhat different audience focus. This particular Kingdom seems much more geared toward those who love both ancient beasts and micro-management simulations.

Prehistoric Kingdom Early Access Review: Exploring the Alpha of Dino Park Sims

Granted, it’s early, but Prehistoric Kingdom’s maze of functions, options, buttons, and menus is already as imposing as it is confusing for newcomers. Thankfully, there’s a tutorial that gives you the gist of how things work, complete with voiceover instruction from Nigel Marvin. If that doesn’t sell you on the game, we’re sorry.

Nigel who? Marvin! The imminent BBC time-traveling, dinosaur-wrangling biologist, of course. For anyone who’s had dinosaur-obsessed children in the last two decades, Marvin’s BBC shows Chased by Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Park were required viewing. He’s a jovial fellow here, lending his soothing, happy tones to help smooth out the stress of running a massive, over-complicated biohazard of a park. 

Mr. Marvin aside, the game has a lot going for it already. It’s gorgeous, for one thing. The park itself is a mix of common, mostly green and brown environments, but the animals are fantastic. These aren’t the scientifically-questionable beasties of Jurassic Park and while complete scientific accuracy in paleontology games is a sketchy endeavor at best, it’s clear Blue Meridian put a lot of thought, time, and research into representing extinct animals according to modern science. 

Like the JW Evolution games, there’s genetic research, egg hatching, sub-species variations, and even paleontology digs to throw money at. The difference is how everything here feels more in-depth, complicated, and layered. The current build has over 20 prehistoric critters (including ice age mammoths) and understanding their needs is vital.

Each attraction must be carefully planned, maintained, and watched over to ensure the animals are taken care of. As this progresses, you’ll theoretically be able to hire staff to cover some tasks, but right now the AI in any of the computer-controlled creatures (be they human or animal) is very light. Or possibly just not actually included yet. 

Humans wander around at random, without much in the way of any interaction or purpose. The dinosaurs independently behave well in a very canned, pre-scripted fashion, but they don’t yet actually interact with each other or even their environment. It’s all just surface country so far.

The labyrinthine UI is another problem and the current state of the help system is, well, not particularly helpful. During the tutorial, for instance, I spent a frustrating five minutes trying to clean dung out of a pen by foolishly clicking on it and anything else around it before realizing that to access that option, you have to actually click on the tiny, sometimes hard-to-see parameter fence of the enclosure. 

There are a lot of little nagging issues like that, where intuition seems to have flown the coop and you just have to memorize where every option is. There are some single-player missions included, mostly to get the lay of the land, but they’re buggy and limited. Mostly, this Early Access is about the sandbox mode.

In sandbox mode, the building powers of the Prehistoric Kingdom do start to shine. You can create some really cool and picturesque structures and enclosures for the animals. For people who really love building a park, there are a lot of options. There’s a surprisingly robust online community as well, sharing their creations, which is an excellent sign regarding the future of the game.

Blue Meridian has stated they’re planning for the game to remain in Early Access for the next 18-24 months, which seems like a long time. There’s a lot missing so far, but the bones of the game are solid, despite sometimes being hidden a little too deeply in the menu systems. The presentation is already exceptional, with a great soundtrack and score to complement the finely rendered zoo attractions.

Prehistoric Kingdom Early Access Review — The Bottom Line


  • Critters looks fantastic.
  • Ability to make elaborate and sprawling parks.
  • Nigel Frickin' Marvin.
  • Has a nice bent toward being at least somewhat scientifically accurate.


  • Very incomplete and exceedingly Early Access.
  • Confusing and maze-like user interface makes things harder.
  • Little in the way of AI and mostly just a sandbox to get a taste.

For fans of this particular little genre, Prehistoric Kingdom might well be worth an early look, especially if they temper their expectations. The game is far from finished and likely to frustrate players as much as amuse them, but the grand spectacle of ancient giants is fully on parade here.

Dinosaurs are awesome and Kingdom is doing a top job of capturing that sense of wonder, despite the flaws.

[Note: The writer was reimbursed for the copy of Prehistoric Kingdom used for this Early Access review.]

Rune Factory 5 Review: Early Harvest Tue, 22 Mar 2022 10:33:14 -0400 Josh Broadwell

The rain pours down with no signs of stopping as I slip into the furniture store. The intolerable weather wouldn’t stop me from buying that new cooking table I saved up for. I greet Palmo, the proprietor, and eagerly get ready to hand over my hard-earned gold. There’s just one problem.

“OH NOES!” Palmo exclaims. My pick-up inventory is full. The chemistry table I bought last time and forgot to take home sits in the corner waiting for its new life to begin, and Palmo can’t  or won’t  just give me the cooking table. That means I have to trudge back home with the chemistry one, come all the way back to Palmo’s, and then take the cooking table home. I don’t mind; it’s a slog, but the excitement of finally doing something with those ingredients at home outweighs the drudgery.

It’s been almost 10 years since the last new Rune Factory was released, and you might have expected the developers to do something a bit different for Rune Factory 5  shake up inventory management, for example, or change how it works. Instead, the most significant change (aside from finally including same-sex marriage, though XSEED championed that) is the visuals.

Rune Factory 5 makes the jump to 3D, though the result is a downgraded experience and has a surprisingly negative effect on the sense of place. What makes Rune Factory 5 so endearing and worthwhile is its characters and the enduring appeal of its familiar, almost comforting, farm loop.

Rune Factory 5 Review: Early Harvest

After a stylish opening segment, Rune Factory 5 begins like any Rune Factory must, with a protagonist suffering from amnesia. Alice or Ares — the gender binary is still intact — may not remember who they are, but they know how to fight monsters. That’s good since your first task is defending a small child from a wild Wooly.

The girl wandered away from Rigbarth searching for her mother, but the monsters reached her before S.E.E.D. could. S.E.E.D. is the country’s self-appointed guardian group dedicated to defending the populace, and the Rigbarth branch is perpetually understaffed, or they were until you show up. Back to Rigbarth you go as the organization’s newest recruit, joining a close-knit village on the frontier.

As always with the series, Rune Factory 5’s broader story unfolds rather slowly, with several intriguing mysteries popping up along the way. People and were-folk turn into monsters, Rune energy runs wild in ancient ruins, and an enigmatic evil pulls the strings from behind the scenes. It hits some of the broader plot points from Rune Factory 4, even down to having a marriage candidate who’s a runaway royal of the Norad Kingdom. But it never quite reaches the same emotional heights as its predecessor.

What it does have is a warm and instantly likable cast of characters that positively sparkle thanks in no small part to a genuinely outstanding English script. Rune Factory 4’s characters fit into clear types from the start. Rune Factory 5’s cast still slots into distinct roles — the shy bookworm, for example, and the dad joke machine that is Heinz, the crystal shop owner — they feel and act much more human. Getting to know them is a pleasure, and it’s easily one of the strongest casts in a farm-sim game.

That said, the art falls into the stereotypical "anime woman" design for a few characters, which is a shame since Rune Factory mostly avoided that trite design choice in the past.

The bigger problem is that Rune Factory 5 often feels like it’s fighting itself. The cast and setting should feel more close-knit than ever. It’s a rugged outpost town where everyone looks out for each other and strives to make the world a better place, after all.

The town’s odd layout means everything and everyone feels too distant, though, like Rigbarth itself is a sea of isolation, and each building is an outpost of companionship. This is mostly okay, since the companionship makes it worthwhile, but it certainly lacks the strong sense of place found in Rune Factory 4.

Palmo’s shop, for example, is far on the edge of town with only the crystal shop nearby, and even they have a not-insignificant distance between them. That might be fine if the space was interesting, but it’s just dead space. There’s no decoration, nothing of visual interest. It's only blurry grass. Rigbarth feels like a beta version of itself, a sense worsened by the janky character movements. It’s difficult to feel attached to the place or its growth as a result.

The Nintendo Switch might struggle with more demanding games, but there’s no reason Rune Factory 5 should lack textures and have pop-in issues as it does, let alone the same framerate problems that plagued the original Japanese release in 2021. Those performance issues are disappointing, especially after Pioneers of Olive Town also released in a rough state last year, but one of the biggest issues is how it affects boss battles.

Rune Factory 4’s bosses have clearly telegraphed moves, but the battles are still tense and require careful timing and a good grasp of the weapon system. Rune Factory 5’s 3D models move so sluggishly and the animations take so long that you have ample time to escape and even start attacking the boss before they finish their own move. Boss fights are more of a tedious hindrance than an actual challenge or anything to look forward to.

There are a number of other minor issues too, including floaty and imprecise movement and big but empty and simplistic dungeons.

It’s a bit of a letdown, especially since Rune Factory is a combat farm-sim hybrid, but the farm-sim side is strong enough to carry the rest of the game — despite being nearly identical to Rune Factory 4’s.

You still have an overwhelming number of skills with their bewildering level-up requirements — “love magic” levels up when you throw enemies with the fist weapons, for example — villagers grow to love you if you spend time with them, and you’ll raise monsters instead of normal livestock.

Most of your farming takes place on the new Farm Dragons, essentially elemental-themed farms in the sky where you enjoy larger fields or more crop planting. It’s a bit annoying not having all your farm goods right outside your home, but you can feed the dragons special crystals to augment the weather and save time, create ideal growing conditions, or both.

This is all very much a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." Maybe Rune Factory’s special blend of social simulation, farm work, crafting, and home decoration could be improved or even revolutionized after a decade, but perhaps Marvelous opted to introduce the series to a brand new audience before doing anything daring.

Longtime fans may find it disappointing, especially considering the lack of endgame content, though there’s such a sense of coziness and warmth to the formula, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it anyway. 

Rune Factory 5 Review: The Bottom Line


  • Superb cast of excellently written characters.
  • Still the same cozy Rune Factory farm loop. 
  • Finally adds same-sex marriage.
  • Fun and worthwhile festivals.
  • It gives us Palmo.


  • Story follows RF4's beats a bit too closely.
  • Poor performance.
  • Still the same Rune Factory loop.
  • No endgame content.
  • Tedious dungeons and slightly pointless boss fights.

It's been 10 years, but I wish Rune Factory 5 had been delayed for a bit longer. The jump to 3D was inevitable, though more time and polish could have made a significant difference. The cast and daily life are still superb, beyond Rune Factory 4 in some instances, but there's a distinct sense that Rune Factory 5 wasn't finished growing before it was harvested. 

[Note: XSEED provided the copy of Rune Factory 5 used for this review.]

Rune Factory 5 Preview: Signs of New Life Mon, 07 Feb 2022 14:09:30 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Most farm games let you rest after a hard day’s work, but Rune Factory isn’t most farming games. After tending the fields and helping the local smith source some materials, I ventured into the forest and fought a mystical wolf – who then turned into the missing woman villagers had been so worried about for a week. 

I’ve spent a few hours in Marvelous’ latest, and while the soil still needs some tending to produce a high-quality crop, the early signs are promising.

Rune Factory 5 Preview: Signs of New Life

After a stylish opening sequence, you wake up in the woods outside Rigbarth village as Alice or Ares. Rune Factory 5 introduces same-sex marriage for the first time in the series, though the main character gender binary remains the same. Our hero lost their memories, though some early signs – and an overwhelming reaction from Rigbarth’s Soulsphere, a mystical item that helps protect the village – point to a secret past and special destiny. 

Which is fine. If the Fates insist on afflicting Rune Factory heroes with memory loss every time, at least we’ll get something interesting from it 30 or so hours later.

The opening feels a bit slow and stilted compared to Rune Factory 4, but thus far at least, I’ve grown attached to Rigbarth. There’s a rugged, close-knit feel to this frontier community that you don’t quite get from Selphia and its fairytale doesn’t quite have polish.

You join SEED, a ranger squad dedicated to keeping the village safe from monsters, and that includes providing farm goods and handling requests for the inhabitants.

Rigbarth’s citizens and fellow SEED members initially seem subdued compared to the likes of Dolce, Clorica, and Dylas, but that’s potentially a good thing.

I knew what to expect from Selphia’s residents immediately, but most of Rigbarth’s folk have me wondering what makes them tick – the grumpy carpenter’s apprentice, the timid SEED assistant, the pint-sized commander. They slot less easily into caricatures, which ideally means there’s more room for growth and surprises, and the writing continues to sparkle in every instance.

The preview period covers the first two hours of the game, and it seems most of the traditional Rune Factory mechanics are here in much the same form as always. It’s a relatively simple action-RPG, where you can customize your style using Rune Powers, specialize in different weapon types, and face off against gigantic monsters when you’re not tilling the fields. 

The biggest difference is the world in which you’re doing all this. Rune Factory 5 is the first fully-3D Rune Factory game, and I’m not convinced it was a good or necessary change. Environments are sparse, character movements are loose and imprecise in the field, and it seems poorly optimized as well. 

Exiting a building drops the frame rate exponentially for a few seconds, and it even struggles to keep up with camera movements in busier parts of Rigbarth. Whether it’s by design or accident, even enemy movements seem off. There’s a good five or more seconds between a foe telegraphing its attacks and you being able to flee from them. I don’t think Rune Factory has to be challenging, but half of it is focused on combat. That level of looseness removes any semblance of tension from an important part of the experience.

The voice acting is implemented more haphazardly than usual as well. A few lines in a conversation will randomly be voiced – sometimes in the middle of what’s being said – before it reverts back to silence or sound bytes.

Minus the environments and oddly paced voicing, I’m sure the other issues can and will be addressed before launch on March 22. And that’s enough for me. I’m much more interested in getting closer to the good people of Rigbarth and seeing how their stories unfold, even if the world looks a bit sparse. We’ll have full review impressions in the coming weeks, so stick around.

Jurassic World Evolution 2 Review: Climbing the Evolutionary Ladder Tue, 07 Dec 2021 10:20:14 -0500 Jonathan Moore

The law of diminishing returns dictates that no Jurassic Park IP can be as good as the one that came before it (JP3 to Jurassic World aside). Even Michael Crichton's Lost World isn't as popular as the book that started it all. But Frontier Development's Jurassic World Evolution 2 chomps that law in two. It's bigger, smarter, and stronger than its predecessor in almost every way.

Evolved and synthesized from the embryonic DNA of Jurassic World Evolution, this new breed of prehistoric park management sim cleverly recognizes its past, present, and future in equal measure. Doing so takes the franchise to new heights while creating the dino sandbox fans have always wanted. 

It's not perfect. There's still more for Frontier Developments to unearth in future sequels should they choose to make them. But Jurassic World Evolution 2 is, right now, the true Indominus Rex. 

Jurassic World Evolution 2 Review: Climbing the Evolutionary Ladder

At its core, Jurassic World Evolution 2 is still very much a park management game about breeding dinosaurs and raking in the profit, all while keeping park goers from getting eaten by an Allosaurus or Velociraptor. 

You begin most scenarios with a few buildings and a little bit of infrastructure — a park entrance, a command center, a few enclosures, and some walkways — before being set loose. You'll add more enclosures and more dinosaurs to increase your park appeal and rating as you build. This loop attracts more tourists to the feeding ground and raises more money for expansion.

Unlike in JWE, you can now hire a team of scientists that can be assigned to various tasks like medical research, fossil excavation, dinosaur synthesis, and treating major dino injuries like broken bones

Adding a wrinkle to it all, each scientist has specific traits that make them more or less efficient at these tasks, and many jobs require a combination of scientists to complete. You'll have to decide what duties take priority, hiring and firing scientists to get the right mixture of stats. Be sure to let them rest, though, lest they become disgruntled and sabotage your park. 

Alongside these workers, you'll also have rangers who keep track of dino needs, refill feeders, and tranquilize any dinosaurs that escape or need to be transported. Additional medical personnel can diagnose diseases and injuries in the field and treat them there. It is, admittedly, a bit odd that medical staff themselves can't treat severe injuries, but scientists can. Que sera sera. 

The main attraction for any game about dinosaurs is, well, the dinosaurs themselves. There are 84 total: 79 in the base game and five as part of the Deluxe Edition. Four more are coming in the Early Cretaceous Pack DLC on December 9. 

Most exciting is the inclusion of flying dinosaurs and aquatic reptiles; Jurassic World Evolution feels categorically empty in comparison once you can build an aviary for Pteranodons or a lagoon (complete with shark feeders) for a Mosasaur here. 

As before, dinosaurs have specific needs that must be met. Some require more open space; others need forest or ground cover. Still, others need sand instead of grass, live animal feeders, or a specific population density to flourish. 

Cohabitation likes and dislikes factor into dinosaur comfort, too, though the system can be frustrating since some are just plain wrong (carnivores of all types may like Compsognathus but apparently only as a snack). Territory, too, feels a bit half-baked, mostly leading to confusion until you understand it and disregard it thereafter. 

Despite that, attending to these needs is important because angry dinosaurs fight each other or break out of their enclosures, tying up scientists unduly or lowering your park appeal, rating, and income. 

Fortunately, dino-watching isn't your only source of money. As in almost any other park sim, you can set up shops and attractions to sell goods and services to park-goers. The system here isn't as in-depth as elsewhere, but it's an improvement over Jurassic World Evolution, adding an appreciated layer of strategy.

You can now monitor what park-goers want and adjust shops to meet demand. It's also possible to add mini-attractions like fish tanks and karaoke bars inside shops and restaurants to draw in different types of patrons. 

Making sense of these moving parts is made easier than before with more in-depth stat screens, giving you a better look at how parts of your park are performing in real-time, as well as every month. 

All of this happens in one of four modes: Campaign, Challenge, Chaos Theory, and Sandbox.

In the Campaign mode, which is primarily a glorified tutorial (and a backdoor advertisement for the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion), you're put through five scenarios in the wake of Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom. Most task you with capturing escaped dinosaurs or retrofitting old containment facilities as new sanctuaries alongside the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Since it's all government work, these pseudo-parks are filled with scientists and various bureaucratic personnel instead of tourists. Consequently, none of the guest management mechanics, attractions, or rides are found in this mode. Considering the campaign doesn't really move the needle forward narratively, it ultimately feels like a second-rate, if fun, diversion to JWE 2's other offerings.

The real meat of Jurassic World Evolution 2 is found in its Challenge and Chaos Theory modes. In these modes, you'll actually build a functioning park that can be opened to tourists.

Challenge mode is exactly what it says on the tin. It asks you to complete various timed challenges across a wide selection of unlockable maps. Most challenges deal with breeding certain dinosaurs in a certain order or increasing your overall park appeal with various additions. To make things more interesting, though, there are three difficulties (bronze, silver, and gold) to choose from that further test your park management skills by making scientists less effective or increasing the intensity of storms.

However, perhaps the most compelling mode in Jurassic World Evolution 2 is Chaos Theory mode. Here, you're able to relive key moments from the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies, putting your own spin on how things really happened. There's nothing like aiding John Hammond in opening the first Jurassic Park, and these scenarios will delight any fan of the franchise. 

Unfortunately, if you were hoping to jump straight into Sandbox mode, which is available from the start, there's a bit of bad news. In what can only be spun as an effort to push players toward Jurassic World Evolution 2's other modes first, Frontier hides nearly everything in Sandbox mode behind research unlocked elsewhere.

Everything from dinosaurs and infrastructure to attractions and rides must first be researched in either Campaign mode, Challenge mode, or Chaos Theory mode. Even extra maps are unlocked elsewhere. The decision might be good-intentioned, but it renders Sandbox initially inert. And by the time you've gained access to everything in Sandbox, you may be ready to leave the park anyway. 

Since it launched in 2018, Jurassic World Evolution has received quite a few updates; jumping into it now feels completely different than doing so three years ago. Yet despite those improvements, it's still a slow, plodding experience filled with some quirky, immersion-breaking decisions. 

For the most part, Jurassic World Evolution 2 has cleared that up. Immediately apparent is how quickly things get going. That's mostly thanks to JWE 2's inclusion of speed options a la' Cities Skylines or Two Point Hospital. It cannot be overstated how this single system completely changes the feel of Jurassic World Evolution 2 for the better. 

Another small but meaningful change is that herbivores no longer need feeders to eat. Painting enclosures with trees, ground fiber, and fruit as food sources feels much more natural and immersive than placing a trap-door feeder that pops up a munchable tree. 

Contracts make a return, but they're thankfully less soldier-of-fortune and more corporate-science-for-profit. Instead of putting different members of InGen at odds with one another and forcing you to weirdly choose sides for points, contracts in Jurassic World Evolution 2 are less aggressive, less gamified, and more in line with the overall tone of the franchise. 

Jurassic World Evolution 2 Review — The Bottom Line


  • Flying dinosaurs
  • Aquatic dinosaurs
  • New enclosures
  • Herbivores don't need feeders
  • Improved management statistics
  • Improved UI
  • Chaos Theory mode
  • Speed options
  • Scientists


  • Lackluster Campaign mode
  • Some shaky voice-over in places
  • Too micromange-y at times
  • Some collision detection issues with buildings
  • Locks everything for Sandbox mode in other modes

In both Chrichton's novel and Steven Spielberg's film, John Hammond wanted to create a wonder of the modern world where past and present converge to inspire awe and childlike wonder. After years of work, the product was the eponymous park that, for a time, achieved that goal. Until chaos came crashing through the gates. 

With Jurassic World Evolution 2, Frontier Developments has, like Hammond, spent the years between Jurassic World Evolution and JWE 2 refining their formula. They've taken community feedback to heart and instilled the DNA that should have been there from the start into this sequel. 

There are still things to tweak and lessons to be learned. Collision detection can still be an issue, especially in aviaries, and clicking on buildings doesn't always register to bring up their menus. Things can get a bit mircomange-y when your park gets large enough, too. Treating E. Coli outbreaks while a blizzard rages and Stegasauruses destroy their enclosure can be a maddening turn of rapid-fire events.

But perhaps as well as anyone, Frontier realizes Hammond’s dream and that of those who have grown up dumbstruck by dinosaurs. With a fun and addicting gameplay loop alongside meaningful changes, Jurassic World Evolution 2 gets my endorsement.

[Note: Frontier Developments provided the copy of Jurassic World Evolution 2 used for this review.]

Chorus Review: Stellar Space Shooting Fri, 03 Dec 2021 10:00:02 -0500 Samuel Adams

In recent years, fans of third-person space shooters have been treated to a slew of new experiences that have launched the genre back into the limelight. Elite Dangerous, Star Wars Squadrons, Rebel Galaxy Outlawand more have all grown this genre and its fanbase, putting players right into the cockpit of ships straight out of an 80s sci-fi flick and setting them on a course to cruise the stars.

Chorus is the latest newcomer to the scene, delivering gameplay packed with enjoyable fights and a solid narrative. While Chorus starts off with familiar story beats, it quickly opens up to deliver plenty of original ideas. Between top-notch gameplay and a quality narrative, Chorus is not only one of the best releases of the fall season but one of my favorite experiences of the year. 

Chorus Review: Stellar Space Shooting

Rather than choosing between embracing a legacy franchise and sticking to a lore-less space simulator, Chorus brings players into an entirely new sci-fi universe with a cast of characters that are wrapped up in a losing battle against a cult known as the Circle. While it may be an entirely original story, longtime fans of sci-fi (especially Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) won't be lost for too long.

Led by the Great Prophet, a Palpatine-like figure that fell from grace and turned toward darkness, the Circle is determined to "cleanse humanity" by any means necessary — even if it means destroying it. You play as Nara, the Circle's deadliest warrior, the Great Prophet's protege, and a master of supernatural powers known as "rites." Nara is tasked with destroying an entire planet — and its billions of residents.

Nara leverages her powers and her connection to this force, opening a rift in reality and devastating this world and its inhabitants. With billions dead, Nara realizes what she has become and speeds away from the Cult and into hiding where she starts a new life as a scavenger — and fierce fighter of the rebellious Free Militia.

Alongside the Circle and the Free Militia, there are a variety of other factions that add a second layer to the world's conflict. Like the Free Militia, the Resistance is pulling out all of the stops to defend humanity against the Circle, while Pirates roam the skies and take survival into their own hands.

With new factions revealed as the story progresses, the dialog between these groups of survivors helps put faces, names, and stories behind the people that you're protecting to raise the stakes and give the goal of saving humanity even more meaning. 

Nara's history as a killer and Cultist may be the initial focus of Chorus, but it's her bond with her ship that quickly takes the spotlight. Forsaken, casually referred to as Forsa throughout, is Nara's Cult ship and partner from her former life.

Her supernatural rites form a strong connection with all technology, including her ship, creating a synergy with Forsa that makes them the ultimate dynamic dogfighting duo. 

Once you're filled in on the backstory, Chorus opens up into a semi-open world with a good variety of random encounters and events to discover. While it's easy to stay focused on completing the main story, Nara and Forsa are free to roam star systems and discover everything from quick side missions to memory echoes that share story moments, all coming together to build out both their backstory and Chorus' universe.

Many side missions may only take five or 10 minutes to complete, but the occasional branching mission will lead you from one objective to another, adding a level of depth to the small snippet of storytelling while also cluing you into a larger part of the universe. 

Chorus' cutscenes and story moments bring a lot more to the table than I initially expected, but the gameplay is what truly shines. Starting out with a machine gun as the main and only weapon, Nara's arsenal quickly opens up to include lasers and missiles alongside her rites — and those powers can certainly come in handy during space combat.

As your arsenal expands, so does the variety of enemies. The Circle's forces quickly grow from easy-to-kill Crows to shielded fighters, gunships, and frigates, each with their own set of defenses and weaknesses. 

While weapons and abilities are unlocked frequently, there are also plenty of options for players to tweak their ship and its equipment to their liking. Three skill slots are available in addition to a handful of different weapon types for each of the three weapon classes. Notice that the health bar is getting a little too low too often? Give your shields a buff. Are you using missiles more than your other options? Give them a little accuracy boost. 

Chorus provides plenty of freedom for players to give their tools of choice buffs, but the combat design helps nudge the player out of their comfort zone to experiment with different weapons and abilities that match specific scenarios and melt enemies with ease.

You will use lasers to weaken shields before unloading a barrage of machine-gun fire onto an enemy, teleport behind enemies to blast them out of the sky, and use the EMP-like Rite of the Storm to take enemy tech offline before lighting them up with a swarm of missiles.

After fleshing out your arsenal, it only takes a couple of minutes to learn the flow of combat and start to understand the cadence of each fight. Without spoiling the story or sharing too much about unlockable skills and weapons, I'll say that plenty of gameplay elements are brought in to keep you busy throughout the entire experience.

One of the core mechanics that quickly emerges in Chorus is the Drift Trance, a skill that lets Nara change her course with ease. While it's initially introduced as a handy way to traverse twists and turns in tight spaces, Drift Trance becomes a core part of the overall gameplay as you learn to leverage all of the tools at your disposal.

Rather than having to take the time to change course and retarget an enemy, you're able to pivot on a dime to target and take out enemy after enemy with speed. It may not seem like a significant gameplay component at first glance, but drifting adds a level of speed and accuracy to Chorus that helps it stand out in comparison to other entries in the genre. 

Chorus Review — The Bottom Line


  • Quality original story
  • Beautiful skyboxes 
  • Enjoyable gameplay loop


  • Forgettable side characters
  • Little weight to skill customization choices

Chorus rings in a new universe for players to explore with a cast of characters and set pieces that already feel familiar but mostly carve our their own section of the universe. Campaign missions aren't simply a means to an end to deliver a gameplay experience, but instead, create an original world filled with characters and story beats that are easy to enjoy.

With a solid gameplay loop, a variety of side missions, and an engaging, original story that doesn't overstay its welcome, Chorus delivers one of the best sci-fi experiences of the year.

[Note: Deep Silver provided the copy of Chorus used for this review.]

Weird West Preview: Why We're Excited For This Occult Western Wed, 03 Nov 2021 10:37:26 -0400 Mark Delaney

The immersive sim genre is a strange one. Those who know it by name are often obsessive fans who will replay their favorite genre games to keep toying with the malleable worlds. Despite that, it remains a difficult term to define.

Weird West is an upcoming indie take on the immersive sim, but it comes from a team comprised of former AAA vets who worked on Dishonored and Prey, two of the finest takes on the slippery genre to date. So it should be to no one's surprise that it's looking quite fine itself.

After a few hours with an early build of the game, I've fired off a six-shooter of things that caught my attention in the promising preview. Here's why I'm excited for the WolfEye debut, Weird West.

The Pedigree

Weird West comes from WolfEye, but this is the small, distributed team's first game. While that necessitates an introduction, the team's past works need no such thing. Raphael Colantonio, former President and Creative Director of Arkane Studios, founded the team alongside Julien Roby, former producer at Arkane, and industry vet Binu Philip, COO.

Collectively, the team's penchant for immersive sims and games with deep systems is on display early and often with Weird West, and as this is a genre that lives and dies primarily on level design, I'm excited to see this team put their expertise to use on a more focused scale such as this.

The Environments

As the game opens with the death of your son and the kidnapping of your husband, you'd think Weird West is set to be a bloodsoaked vengeance quest, but it doesn't have to be. Just like Dishonored and Prey before it, Weird West gives players hub-like levels full of enemies, but also ripe with opportunities.

Do you create a distraction then sneak in the back door? Do you pick off enemies one by one, hiding their bodies in the tall grass? Maybe you set off a chain reaction that gets all the enemies in one spot only to shoot out a lantern near an oil slick, allowing you to burn them all away.

Level design is what those Arkane games do best (truly better than anyone, in my opinion), and Weird West looks to recreate some of that magic even from an angled perspective. It looks different, but it's still so satisfying to take one's time with an encounter and get things exactly right.

The Combat

Going hand-in-hand with those elaborate environments is the combat, which, after a tutorialized introduction, really opens up to reveal the extent of your abilities. Unlocking major new powers thanks to Weird West's occult leanings adds a surreal twist to it all, but even the good old-fashioned shootouts provide excitement.

That's because enemies, even in this unfinished build, act with a killer instinct. It will be wise to sneak around for as long as you can in Weird West. Every time I blew my cover in a dense area, I was quickly overcome by a swarm of enemies, some of whom wasted no time flanking me with shotguns.

The almost RTS-like UI will keep you informed of your aim and damage, but it's purely up to you to stay on your feet by planning ahead — and acting swiftly when the plan falls apart. 

The Setting

Though I've placed it here in the middle of this list, I'd say the setting is actually my favorite part of Weird West so far. I'm a sucker for when two genres collide (It's a heist movie and a Christmas movie? Reindeer Games rules!), so the blend of mysticism and westerns in both thematic and aesthetic elements has been nothing short of eye-popping.

The central enemy faction wears burlap over their heads like twisted serial killers, cannibals roam the land, and even fiercer monsters are hinted at for the full game. Weird West does a lot with surely far fewer resources than some on the team are used to, and this is most evident in the world-building. It feels expertly crafted as the dark centerpiece to a game already doing a lot right.

The Music

Even before I properly started Weird West, I had my suspicions that it was going to be interesting. Part of that is because of the pedigree I mentioned. But another reason for that is the music. The trailer embedded above gives a good taste of it. It brilliantly captures Weird West's dual sensibilities: the walk-tall western and its touches of occult mysticism.

I love it so much that as soon as I booted it up, I reached out to ask the team that provided the code whether we could expect a soundtrack release (no word on that yet, by the way). WolfEye's website mentions that audio is a point of emphasis, and in the team's debut game, it shows.

The Hints of More to Come

In my demo time with Weird West, I was able to play through the story of bounty hunter Jane Bell, but the full game will offer five playable characters, each with their own tale to tell. This approach ensures variety, and also seems to suggest some crossover.

I'd love it if, by the end of Weird West, we can look back and recall how each of these characters, seemingly living disparate lives in the early going, actually affected each other's stories directly and indirectly. With more monsters to discover, more anti-heroes to emerge, and more tragedies to befall the characters of Weird West, I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

Weird West arrives on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms on January 11, 2022.

Concerned Ape's Next Game After Stardew Valley is Haunted Chocolatier Fri, 22 Oct 2021 18:11:35 -0400 Jonathan Moore

Stardew Valley developer ConcernedApe has revealed his next game. Called Haunted Chocolatier, it shares many characteristics of the incredibly popular farming sim that's now a household name, but it intends to stand apart as something more whimsical, fantastic, and "unleashed" than SDV.

Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe, revealed Haunted Chocolatier through a recent blog post and relatively long 2:25 trailer that shows what's presumably an early build of the game in action.

Barone said his work to this point has been on the "meat and potatoes" of Haunted Chocolatier, with the "good stuff" still to come.

So far, there are ingredients to collect, chocolate to make with the help of little ghosties, and a shop to decorate and manage. There are relationships to forge, gifts to give, and mysteries to unravel. And, of course, there are enemies to defeat such as slimes and evil ravens. 

Right now, Haunted Chocolatier shares many similarities with Stardew Valley, even down to its pixel graphics and incredible music, but it's not a sequel to that game. Well, at least not in its current form. Barone hasn't said one way or the other just yet, but he clarified where SDV is more traditional, Chocolatier will be more "unleashed."

He said:

So far, I’ve been having fun working on this game. There are so many possibilities. With Stardew Valley, I felt somewhat constrained, because I was working within an established tradition. I don’t regret that at all, but there’s always been a part of me that wanted to go “unleashed”.

I believe this will be a good opportunity, but I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. I’ve been mostly working on the “meat and potatoes” of the game so far. But what really brings a game to life is the spice, the sauce. And I haven’t really gotten to the sauce yet. That’s coming.

Despite Haunted Chocolatier's spoopy vibe, Barone also said that this isn't an "evil or negative game," and he wants it to be something "delightful" and "uplifting." 

There's still a lot we don't know about Haunted Chocolatier. Since it's still in the early stages of development, Barone didn't share a release window or timeframe, nor did he share the platforms on which he intends to release the game. But stay tuned for more. We'll be watching this one closely.

How to Survive Dry Season, Droughts in Timberborn Thu, 30 Sep 2021 11:45:43 -0400 Sergey_3847

Timberborn has two period cycles: wet and dry seasons. Players always begin in the wet season, and eventually receive a warning about the upcoming dry season when all water resources and crops start to dry up. If you've never survived a drought season in Timberborn, then this could be a really hard period for you.

This guide will provide you with tips on how to survive dry season and droughts in Timberborn. Note that each cycle of the dry season increases in time, and dry seasons last longer on higher difficulties.

Timberborn: Surviving Dry Season and Droughts

Step 1: Prepare Wood Storage

Preparing wood is one of the most important things you must do before the drought begins. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Place a few Lumberjack Flags next to tree patches
  2. Connect the flags with paths
  3. Mark the trees you wish to cut for the process to begin
  4. Build Log Piles next to each Lumberjack Flag
  5. Place a few Gatherer Flags
  6. Build a Warehouse for storing wood
  7. Connect all these buildings with new paths

Step 2: Prepare Water Storage

Next is water, which will be needed the most during the dry season. Follow these steps:

  1. Build a couple of Water Pumps at the closest source of water
  2. Build 5-10 Water Tanks next to them
  3. Connect these new structures with paths

Step 3: Population Control

Now, you need to make sure that your beavers will have a new generation of workers by doing the following:

  1. Build 4-5 Lodges for your beavers to sleep and procreate
  2. Set up at least a few Campfires to make your beavers happy
  3. Make the beavers work longer hours

Step 4: Build a Dam

Dam will help you control and preserve the flow of water during both wet and dry seasons:

  1. Select the Dam from the Landscaping menu
  2. Set it up across the river flow next to your settlement
  3. Build another dam on the other side of the river
  4. Make sure that you have an isolated piece of river for your settlement

Step 5: Prepare Food Storage

Finally, you can start producing extra food and storing it for the season of drought:

  1. Go to Food menu and select Farmhouse
  2. Build a couple of Farmhouses next to Lodges
  3. Go to Plants and Crops menu
  4. Select Carrots and Potatoes
  5. Set them up next to the Farmhouses
  6. Connect all the structures with new paths

When the drought comes, your part of river that has been isolated with dams will not dry out. You will also have enough water in the tanks, food in the farmhouses, and wood in the warehouses to survive long enough until the next wet season.

In these few simple but well coordinated steps you will be able to survive dry season and droughts in Timberborn. If you want to know how to use Water Dumps in Timberborn, then follow this guide.

How to Use Water Dump in Timberborn Tue, 28 Sep 2021 10:45:47 -0400 Sergey_3847

Proper water distribution is one of the major factors for success in Timberborn. There are several ways players can manipulate their water supplu for effective irrigation. One of the best ways to do this is to use Water Dump.

Our guide will provide you with tips on how to use Water Dump in Timberborn, including several methods of irrigation, using levees, dams, and floodgates. You will also learn how to use dynamite and a few other things along the way.

Timberborn: How to Use Water Dump

Unlocking the Water Dump

The Water Dump is not available from the start. In order to build Water Dump you must first accumulate 250 science points.

Here's what you need to do in order to unlock Water Dump in Timberborn:

  1. Click on the Science tab in the building menu
  2. Select Inventor building
  3. Assign one beaver to this building

The beaver inside the Inventor will produce three points of science for each completed task, so keep him busy. Once you get 250 science points, you can unlock the Water Dump at the Water building menu.

How to Use Dams

Water Dumps are used primarily to contain water that beavers carry and fill it up with. Then, this water can be used for irrigation purposes outside the Water Dump.

Dams are highly effective structures that can be used to prevent droughts by storing water. You can block certain parts of rivers with the help of dams, but only up to 6.5 meters in height. This means that the floods are still possible with the dams due to spillover.

But you can still build Water Dumps next to dams, providing your colony with an unending supply of water for irrigation.

Dams and other similar structures can be built through the Landscaping menu.

How to Use Levees

One of the other ways to utilize Water Dump is to build levees that can block water completely. You can also build other structures on top of levees, just like is the case with the dams.

However, levees can be built one on top of the other, which is not possible with the dams. This guarantees that the river flow will not spill over, because your levees can be as tall as you need them to be.

In order to unlock levees you need to accumulate 120 research points. Then, you can use them to block the flow of water and create water reservoirs or small lakes that will supply your Water Dumps whenever you need them.

How to Use Floodgates

Floodgates come in three different heights and they can be used in conjunction with dams and levees. Floodgates will let you control the amount of water you wish to pass through the dam or a levee.

Here are the three types of Floodgates and their required amount of research points:

  • Floodgate (150 RP)
  • Double Floodgate (250 RP)
  • Triple Floodgate (500 RP)

Floodgates can be well used with Water Dumps to control the amounts of water you wish to use on your irrigated farmlands.

How to Use Dynamite

Dynamite can help you terraform the landscape and create artificially controlled water flows released by the Floodgates.

You will need a lot of dynamite to blow up blocks of land in order to create new pathways for the water supply. In this case you will need to build several new structures:

  • Explosive Factory
  • Paper Mill
  • Power Generator

The entire chain of dynamite production looks like this:

  1. Click on Landscaping menu
  2. Select Explosive Factory
  3. Mark the area for the building and confirm
  4. Select Water Wheel
  5. Place it next to the running water
  6. Click on Wood menu
  7. Select Paper Mill
  8. Mark the area for the building and confirm

When these are done, use power shafts to connect all three buildings. As a result, you will gain an unending stream of dynamite production.

With the help of the explosives you can create small water reservoirs for your Water Dumps wherever you wish.

That's everything you need to know on how to use Water Dump in Timberborn. If you want to know how to increase beaver population, then follow this guide.

Timberborn: How to Increase Beaver Population Mon, 27 Sep 2021 10:59:01 -0400 Sergey_3847

Beavers are the main units in Timberborn, so it's your highest priority to keep your beaver population not only happy, but also large enough to sustain your civilization. This guide will explain in detail how to increase beaver population in Timberborn.

There is a set of rules that players must follow in order to increase and control the beaver population. It can get out of hand quickly if you go about it willy-nilly.

How to Increase Beaver Population in Timberborn

Beavers are simple creatures and they can work, eat, and sleep outside. But if you want your beavers to create families, you simply must make their life more comfortable by building family homes for them.

Since there are two factions of beavers in the game — Folktails and Iron Teeth — these will require different types of housing to be built.

Here's how to start breeding if you're playing as Folktails:

  1. Click on the Housing menu on the bottom of the screen
  2. Select Lodging type
  3. Choose the house you wish to build (1 out of 5)
  4. Select the area on the map
  5. Confirm production by clicking the glowing house icon

Here's how to breed if you're playing for the Iron Teeth faction:

  1. Click on the Housing menu at the bottom of the screen
  2. Select Breeding Pods
  3. Select the area on the map
  4. Confirm production by clicking the glowing pod icon

In the case of Iron Teeth, it's all quite simple, and all you need is to supply Breeding Pods with water and berries, and these will produce new beavers like small factories.

But in the case of Folktails, things get a bit more complicated, and you really need to take care of your beavers.

One small house can accommodate up to three beavers. If you put two beavers inside a hut and leave one space empty, soon enough the two beavers will deliver a baby beaver.

But remember that your Folktails population needs to be happy. Feed them and give them enough time to sleep inside the houses. You can also put a fireplace inside the house to make them even happier.

If you want your beavers to stop procreating, then simply stop building new houses; this lets you keep the population from getting too large. Otherwise, your extra beavers will get lazy, and in return, this will make other beavers unhappy.

That's all you need to know on how to increase the beaver population in Timberborn.

How to Drain Brake Fluid in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Fri, 24 Sep 2021 10:59:08 -0400 Gavin Burtt

As a small-time mechanic in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021, you are required to fix up the issues with customers vehicles that are detailed in the orders. Virtually all cars will require you to replace some of the car's service fluids, including brake servo, oil, windshield washer, power steering, coolant. In this guide, we'll show you how to drain and replace the brake fluid.

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021: How to Drain Brake Fluid

If you're looking to get a good performance score and maintain a high customer satisfaction, you're going to need to meet the demands of the order. Being asked to replace the brake fluid is a rather common request, and it's also pretty straight forward once you know how to do it.

Once the car is placed at the lifter inside the garage, open up the hood of the car and select the engine to enter disassembly mode.

Draining the brake servo requires a particular tool, so open up your tool wheel and select the drain tool. This is what is used to drain the brake servo.

In order to use the drain tool, you simply need to hover the cursor over the appropriate tank and hold the "interact" button. There are a few tanks to choose from, but the one with the brake servo can be identified by its small size, white base and yellow cap. Make sure to click the tank, not the cap.

The drain tool will fill up with the brake fluid, which is white in color.

Of course, the customer wouldn't appreciate it if you left their brake servo empty, so you'll have to top it back up. This is easy enough. Re-enter disassembly mode again and navigate back to the brake servo. By simply clicking on its cap, you can pour in the fluid to fill it back up.

This same exact process can be applied to coolant and power steering fluids. Windshield washer is a bit easier, as it can simply be topped off without needing to conduct a full replacement, and oil is much more involved, requiring you to raise the car up and use the oil drain underneath. You'll be needing to do these processes quite often, and you should be able to get through them rather quickly with a bit of practice.

That is all you should need to know to replace or drain brake fluid in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021. Failing to do this can negatively impact your scores, so be sure to stay on top of it with every order. It's certainly an easy step to forget.

How to Make Money in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Fri, 24 Sep 2021 10:07:17 -0400 Sergey_3847

There are many ways of making money in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021, but most of them are not as profitable as you might like them to be. This guide will show you only the best and most profitable methods of how to make money in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021.

You will learn about the methods for both early and late game. At the later stages it's important to invest your money wisely, or you could lose it even faster than you gained it.

Disable Travel Fees

You will start making your first money by simply completing the story elements of the game. But every time you drive to a shed or a junkyard to find broken cars, the game will make you pay for the expenses. However, you can easily disable this unnecessary payment in the game's menu.

Here's how to disable travel fees in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021:

  1. Go the game's main menu
  2. Select "Settings" option
  3. Go to "Game Settings" tab
  4. Switch "Enable Travel Fees" feature to "NO"

Now the game will not charge you for driving around looking for broken cars, which is a great way of saving money early on.

Repair Car Parts and Sell Cars

There are three places where you can purchase broken cars:

  • Shed/Barn
  • Junkyard
  • Auction

Usually cars found in the shed require a lot of repairing, which isn't very profitable. Focus on auctions and the junkyard instead. You could still visit sheds in search of parts, which can be found in decent condition there.

You can either purchase a broken car at the auction for extremely cheap (up to 10K), or even cheaper from the junkyard. The best car to repair is the Atom Renton (2006), which can be sold fully repaired for about 80K.

Before attempting to repair any car, you need to purchase the following upgrades that will increase the efficiency of your repair job:

  • Welder
  • Regular Customer 1-3
  • Good Judgement
  • Body Repair Station
  • Renovator 6

Once you find the car you wish to repair and have all the required upgrades, follow this procedure to make the most money out of it:

  1. Bring the car into the garage
  2. Strip the car entirely down to its frame
  3. Use Welder services to fix the frame
  4. Repair all the parts except engine
  5. Use Interior Detailing service for final touches

This process is cheap and will save you a lot of money. Never waste a dollar on washing or repainting cars, and don't buy new parts. These are expensive and don't increase the value of your cars to a significant extent.

If you're doing it right, then you should be making up to 20K from a single vehicle repaired and sold this way.

Bulk Re-Sell Auctioned Cars

This method is very easy and highly profitable, but in order to make it work you need to have at least 200K on your bank account. This means that you can actually use this method only in the later stages of the game.

You will also need the Good Judgement perk, if you still haven't purchased it yet. It will allow you to estimate and choose better cars for further re-selling.

You can collect the required money by repairing cars, and then you can use the earned money to gain even bigger profits by following these steps:

  1. Go to any car auction
  2. Choose one car with a five star rating, but no less
  3. Purchase it for the estimated value, but no more
  4. Bring it to your garage and re-sell it as is
  5. Rinse and repeat

In this simple way you can purchase a lot of top-tier cars and re-sell them for high profits without any need to ever repair them again.

Here is a list of the most expensive cars you can purchase and re-sell to make profit in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021:

  • Nissan GT-R (R35)
  • Olsen GTR AMC
  • Salem Earthquake Rex
  • Echos Cobra VENOM
  • Salem Spectre SR

Now you know how to make money in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021. For more related guides, please visit our dedicated hub page right here.

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Crashing Fix Wed, 22 Sep 2021 11:14:47 -0400 Sergey_3847

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 is a well optimized game, but it there is a crashing issue in both the PC and Xbox One versions of the game.

On PC, the game may crash when starting it up; while on Xbox One it may happen during gameplay. Both are related to corrupted save data, and have their own solutions to get you back into the game.

How to Fix Crashing in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 PC Crash Fix

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 may crash on PC when loading a save game, after prompting you that the save data is corrupted.

Fortunately, there is a backup folder for all save files in case they get corrupted. Here's how you can restore your save files:

  1. Go to "C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\LocalLow\Red Dot Games\Car Mechanic Simulator 2021\Backup" folder on your hard drive
  2. Copy all the files in the Backup folder
  3. Go to "C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\LocalLow\Red Dot Games\Car Mechanic Simulator 2021\Save" folder
  4. Paste in all copied files into the Save folder

Now try to start the game and load your save files, and everything should be fine.

There are many reasons why save files get corrupted randomly, but one of the most common causes is the presence of custom game modifications that may disrupt some of the game's system files.

Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 Xbox One Crash Fix

Console players also report the game crashing bugs connected to the corrupted save files, but only on Xbox One console. The Xbox Series X/S users don't have this game crashing issue.

If you're experiencing the game crashing on Xbox One during gameplay, then consider the following:

  1. Change the difficulty mode from Normal to Expert or vice versa
  2. Save the new file on the new chosen difficulty mode
  3. Keep playing and saving the game only on the new mode

If you try to switch difficulty modes on different save files, then this may corrupt them and crash the game. So choose one new mode and don't change it in the course of the game.

Another reason for corrupted save files on Xbox One console could be the issues with Microsoft servers. But in this case, all you can do is wait for them to fix these internal bugs.

That's everything you need to know on how to fix crashing in Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 both on PC and Xbox. For more related guides,please visit our dedicated hub page right here.

Monster Harvest Review — Gotta Grow 'Em All! Wed, 08 Sep 2021 12:27:20 -0400 StevenGreen

Fans of the farming sim who grew up with the likes of Harvest Moon were spoiled with the release of Stardew Valley in 2016. With the genre reawakened, it only makes sense that indies and larger studios alike started to attempt to hit paydirt with their own revivals—latching onto the success Eric Barone was able to find with the once-beloved genre. 

While there are plenty of iterations that play on Stardew Valley's mechanics without shame, copying nearly everything there is to copy, Monster Harvest attempts to take those building blocks and add on something unique by mashing the monster-catching and combat mechanics from the Pokémon series into this otherwise straight-laced farming title. 

Although it does add an interesting twist to what could otherwise be called a Stardew Valley clone, Monster Harvest fails to really capitalize on the mechanics found in the Pokémon series by keeping things too simple to be truly engaging, while also staying too close to the game it takes inspiration from first and foremost. 

Monster Harvest Review — Gotta Grow 'Em All!

Starting exactly as every classic farming sim has started since the dawn of time, Monster Harvest thrusts a wide-eyed city boy into the rustic farm life when a long-lost family member sends a letter — calling you to your true passion.

This time around it's an uncle who has let their farm get overgrown and in need of some serious elbow grease, where your character must jump in head first with no prior farming knowledge or experience. While your uncle can be found in this world, he's busy with his experiments and has given up the farm life himself (which is kind of ironic). 

While the story is as cliché as they come, the twist of being able to raise your own Poké-like friends, known as Planimals, adds something new to an otherwise completely standard farming-sim tale. 

The only really new mechanic that can be found in Monster Harvest is the monster-catching mechanics that have been discovered through your uncle's experiments with unusual slimes found in the area. Adding these slimes to basic crops can have varying effects, from mutated crops to farm animals, and the pièce de résistance—Planimal companions who will fight for you in the equivalent of Stardew Valley's mining/caves area. 

While you work against an evil corporation looking to use this discovery for pure evil, you'll take these critters into the subterranean to duke it out with creatures found in the tall grass in classic Pokémon fashion.

Unfortunately, that's about where the interesting part of all this starts and ends, as the combat system is bare-bones and features very little in terms of excitement or real usefulness when paired with the game's other mechanics. It stands alone and fails to make a good impression. 

Putting the new mechanics aside, and you have a serviceable farming sim that sticks to its roots more closely than you'd want. Looking and operating exactly like Stardew Valley, the cleanup of your farm, the process of farming and upgrading tools, and the system for selling crops and taking part in local events match up sickeningly close. 

Besides utilizing the aforementioned slimes, you're playing a subpar version of Stardew Valley through and through. In those places where you'd find similar mechanics, they tend to not work as well as they did in previous iterations either. 

Where Monster Harvest does stand on its own two feet is with its well-made visuals and soundtrack. The pleasant tunes found in this world are relaxing and match up perfectly for the sort of casual farming sim experience you would want. While the visuals are similar in their pixelated style, it does enough to look different to not feel like a total copycat. 

While a few bugs here and there hamper the experience, it isn't anything that was enough of an issue to really make for a lesser experience. Performance, however, was great across the board with smooth frames and no hitches to be found. 

Monster Harvest Review — The Bottom Line


  • Great visuals and soundtrack help to keep things fresh 
  • If you want a farming sim like others you've played, this won't disappoint 
  • Attempts to set itself apart with unique mechanics...


  • ...Those mechanics fail to come through as they feel incomplete
  • Clichés and tropes keep it from feeling new at all
  • Subpar experiences across the board

Monster Harvest wanted to follow the basic format found in the award-winning Stardew Valley while adding unique monster-catching and RPG mechanics found in Pokémon, and it succeeded in doing so. 

The issue is that those baseline mechanics from the farming sim genre lack the depth and nuance you'd want to see for Monster Harvest to really be found among the greats, while also failing to capitalize on the new mechanics by making them lackluster and borderline boring. 

For those just itching for another farming sim, you could do worse than Monster Harvest, but for all the potential that this one had, it's unfortunate that the only areas it excelled were in its visuals and soundtrack. 

[Note: Merge Games provided a copy of Monster Harvest for this review.]