Developed by Plukit, Staxel‘s team started with Bart van der Werf and Conor Goodman. Bart was originally a programmer with Chucklefish and worked on Starbound. They originally started Staxel in 2014 then releasing it to early access January 2018. The game is now out of early access and retails for $20 USD with a 25% discount during launch.
Staxel is a farming voxel based sandbox game heavily influenced by games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. You’re able to customize your character and the farm you live on. Customizing even runs into the town! Not only do citizens ask you to build amenities, you can build homes for new citizens. Of course, the process can be a bit of a grind to get the required materials for different home designs.
Also there’s more to Staxel than farming or befriending the town people. With an assortment of bugs, fish, foragables, and mineraly things to collect. Staxel has a decent sized map with an abandoned mine to explore, and islands to discover!
Probably one of the highlights of Staxel is that it can be an online multiplayer. That way you won’t be alone when you have to grind for those counters and floors when you want Rosemary to move to town. You’re able to live on the same farm or be neighbors with the people you invite. If you’re like me and don’t have someone to play with fortunately you start off with a puppy or kitty to keep you company.
Over all I really like Staxel. This is going on the growing list of games that I can’t put down and will keep coming back to. Although I can see how it wouldn’t be for everyone because of the art style and how much you have to grind for items. If those things don’t bother you, then this might be a game for you.
Staxel is currently on sale for just $14.99 in the Humble Store. Pick up your copy here and enjoy!
We are living in a golden age of indie games. Whether it is Stardew Valley, Her Story, Papers, Please or Firewatch, these are games from small production companies that have something to say. They show that it isn’t unlimited resources that make a good game but an interesting premise and good execution. That is not to say that every indie game to hit the market is a masterpiece, or even worth your time. But we now live in a world where we can buy fun, inspiring or interesting games for a reasonable price. And the list just keeps on growing.
You’re not special by Reky Studios fits itself nicely into that mold. You play a character who is not the center of the story. You are just some guy who happens to be in wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time, and finds himself unable to do much about it. I can’t see Ubisoft making a game like that.
Its what you do with it that counts
The game itself is reasonably short and can be “completed” from anywhere between 5 minutes and 3 hours, with multiple endings to entice players into replying the game several times. It is primarily a puzzle game but also has action scenes that your character plays a minor role in. But it is not the puzzles that will keep you coming back for more, as good as they are. Once you’ve solved them, its just a matter of replication. It is the story that Reky has developed that keeps you intrigued enough to want find out how each ending evolves.
And how do they do that? With writing that is informative enough to give you a glimpse of what might be to come and keep you wanting to know more. The use of hearing old wives tales in front of a fireplace and the general feeling that you are jumping into someone else’s story half way through is an intriguing device and one they have developed nicely.
The other NPCs of the story have their own background, which
can lead to side quests, and can often be very funny, with even some 4th
wall breaking humor thrown into the mix. But they are used fleetingly, and are
generally there to assist you in making or spending your money and progressing
Throughout all of this there are constant reminders that this is not your adventure. You have no significant power. It takes you longer than the hero to make your way through the various mazes. You do not fight the bad guy, at least not directly. And there are items at the village market that you will never buy. Sure, you can scrounge enough silver together to buy a cloak, but it would take you a very long time to buy armor or a sword. And there is no need; you are not the hero. You are not special.
But my mom says I’m special
But the game is. Its fun, its interesting, and its challenging. Sometimes infuriatingly so. And sometimes I feel there should be something to point you in the right direction. Playing through, I missed that there was an extra passageway for me to use to meet the next boss and spent 30 minutes wondering why I couldn’t go any further. It took a question to the developer on their discord to know what to do. That won’t be available forever and not everyone will choose to ask.
There are also secret exits to the map, for example, that
are needed to progress some of the story. That would have infuriated me if I
had not been lucky enough to find it by chance. But there are also secrets I
did not solve and storylines I did not complete that do make me curious to come
back for more.
Ultimately, it is the fact that this game meets each of my tenants for a good indie game that makes me recommend it for your wishlist. It is fun, the fact that it was even made (and by a single game developer I might add) is inspiring and the entire concept is interesting. All this and at reasonable price. This is why indie games can be great. Welcome to the golden age.
You’re not special was developed by Reky Studios and is currently available for download for Windows on Steam.
*The Mommy Gamers received a copy of the game for review purposes.
Tuesdays are all about new games on The Mommy Gamers Twitch stream. I scoured E3 this year to find some games that I knew Marcia would love to bring to her channel on New Game Tuesday. Below are three indie games that are all but surefire hits. Take a look and let us know in the comments if they sound like games you would play too!
Ooblets is an adorable indie game that is being developed by a two-person, patreon-funded team. Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasser have been working on it since 2016 and it is scheduled for release on Xbox One and PC sometime in 2018. Ooblets is a farming, town-life, and creature collection game that draws heavy inspiration from games like Stardew Valley and Pokemon. Players run a farm, manage a shop, and explore all while trying to uncover the secrets of “Oob” (whatever that is).
All of the different mechanics in the game are centered around collecting the titular Ooblets. You grow them in your garden, you explore the wilderness looking for new seeds, and you even battle them with your own team. Anyone who has felt to the urge to Catch ‘Em All should feel right at home here.
I could talk about interesting mechanics all day, but that would betray the true strength of this game: Its charm. Every line of code and frame of animation is just oozing (oobing?) with it. Characters walk with a fun bob in their step. The Ooblets sway to the music and battle each other using dance moves. Heck. Even the plants in your garden are practically dancing as they grow.
This is definitely a game to keep an eye on. I don’t know if it will dethrone Fortnite as Marcia’s game of choice for streaming, but I think it’s got a shot.
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin puts players in the shoes of a lonely Harvest Goddess who has been banished, along with a small group of mortal humans, to a dangerous island. She needs to fight dangerous monsters to clear the land for settlement, and then help grow rice to help keep the humans alive.
Sakuna is two different games joined at the hip. Gamers from the SNES era might compare it favorably to Actraiser. Both games include a side scrolling action mode where the player controls a hero as they battle their way through stages to gather resources and to clear away monsters. The difference is that Actraiser paired that action with a Civilization style kingdom building game. Sakuna replaces that with a peaceful rice farming simulator.
I’ve played Sakuna at each of the last two E3’s. I came away from my demo impressed both times. The art is gorgeous, the animations are smooth, and I was intrigued by how the two different game modes played off of each other. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin will be launching on PS4 and PC in 2019! I can’t wait to play it again.
Mineko’s Night Market
Mineko’s Night Market, by Meowza Games, is a game about “crafting crafts, eating eats, and catting cats.” All quirky humor aside, Night Market is a game that is intended to celebrate Japanese culture while also delivering a wide variety of interesting activities to perform and quests to complete. Players take on the role of Mineko as she moves to a new home on a superstitious Japanese island. The island is overrun by cats, which is fitting considering everyone on the island worships Abe, the Sun Cat.
Gameplay is diverse, but the main loop of the game involves gathering materials through quests, exploration, farming, and trading. You then use those materials to craft items to sell at a market that takes place every week. Selling better items not only earns you money, but it improved the market as a whole which gives you access to even more resources.
The cat theme runs deep here as well. Mineko is accompanied through the game by an, as of yet unnamed, giant cat as well as a cadre of “normal” cats. Its anyone’s guess at this point what those cats do, but you acquire them in a number of interesting ways including growing them out of plants! I can’t wait to play Mineko’s Night Market when it comes to PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch later this year.
If Marcia’s love for farming games is any indication, then she should love streaming these games. What about you? Do any of these three games interest you? Sound off in the comments!