When I first heard of Ooblets, a life sim that seemed to exist nestled between Stardew Valley and Pokémon a few months ago, I was hooked. Historically, it takes very little for cute critters and farming simulators to reel me in, and Ooblets is no exception. So, when the game, by indie developer Glumberland, had its early access release on July 15th, I leaped at the opportunity to give it a try.
Although the game is not finished, Glumberland estimates that, depending on play style, there are between 6 to 40 hours of gameplay at its current state, although if you’re content to just farm and raise critters you might be able to get a little bit more out of it before the game is officially released.
When you first start Ooblets, after customizing your character (Don’t worry too much about your hair and outfit, you can change those later!) you arrive by boat to Badgetown, a town populated by zany little critters called — you guessed it– Ooblets. The minute you step off the boat, you find yourself in a scenario many who have played Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon may be familiar with. The mayor of Badgetown greets you and offers you a free farmhouse fixer-upper. Your farm and house can also be customized fairly intensively, so don’t worry about the state of things when you first arrive! You also are required to join one of three Ooblet clubs in order to get your first Ooblet companion in a scene not unlike picking your starter in a Pokémon game.
After a brief tutorial, you’re essentially left to do things at your own pace and take control of your new life in Badgetown. That’s not to say you’re left without guidance, however. There are tasks that will be requested of you, but you can get to them whenever you’d like. If you’d rather dedicate your time to farming or collecting more Ooblets, you’re free to do so– the tasks will wait. By completing tasks you will earn Gummies, which are the basic in-game currency. In addition to Gummies, you can also earn Wishies, which can help you upgrade shops, unlock new craftable recipes, and in general make your Ooblets life easier. You also get the opportunity to socialize with the quirky NPCs by completing their missions, and their witty dialogue makes it more than worthwhile.
The farming mechanics in Ooblets are very similar to other games that feature farming as a central focus. If you’ve ever played a farming sim before, you’ll feel at home with Ooblets, and if you haven’t, there isn’t much of a learning curve. Make sure you weed regularly and keep an eye on whether or not your crops need to be watered, and you should be a farming force to be reckoned within no time. One thing that separates Ooblets’ farming mechanics from its peers is how the Ooblets themselves are able to help out on your farm by tending to crops or performing other tasks.
Aside from your initial Ooblet, you acquire more of these funky dudes by participating in dance battles. There’s no rhythm game element at play here, in fact, it is a pseudo deck building system in which you pick random cards from a base deck, paired with special cards that come with each Ooblet in order to reach a determined number of points before your opponent. Cards can give you points, steal points from enemies, and provide a number of status effects. If you win a dance battle against an Ooblet, you can get a seed from them, and grow one of your own at home. Each Ooblet also has color variants, which gives you even more to collect!
At first, I was underwhelmed by the dance battle combat system, but as I progressed and collected more Ooblets, it became more challenging and satisfying. It’s especially fun to play around with the Ooblets you have on your team to counter the card effects of Ooblets on the opposing team!
Overall, I’m excited to see how Ooblets continues to grow. At its current state, it is more than playable and enjoyable. It’s a zany, wholesome experience that offers a reprieve from some of the stress “real life” can offer. To be honest, I’m already obsessed. That being said, there are areas on the map that are closed off for the foreseeable future, and a couple of wrinkles waiting to be ironed out. I have high hopes that with a little TLC Ooblets will eventually take its well-deserved seat at the table alongside other the beloved life sims that inspired it.
Ooblets is currently available on PC and Xbox One and can be purchased on the Epic Games Store or Microsoft Store for $19.99