It has never particularly been a dream of mine to own a small farm, where I am followed around by mysterious cooing creatures, until I saw the first trailer for Ooblets in 2017. The colors, the music, and the adorable visual style drew me in the second my eyes made contact with the cute little things, helping players farm.
And Ooblets is a farming game, at its core. You get a ratty shack to live in that you can upgrade and decorate, and you make most of your money from planting crops, raising them, and ultimately selling them. You interact with quirky townsfolk to learn more about Badgetown, the game’s setting. It’s the Pokémon-like monster-collecting element that makes Ooblets both cute and unique, but it’s not enough to fill the game out in its current state.
Ooblets can be found in little herds around Badgetown, and the folks living in the town all have their own ooblets that follow them around. Ooblets are a way of life in Badgetown, it turns out, and you’re going to need some.
Rather than battling these monsters, you make them dance against each other by using a card system, similar to that of Slay the Spire. Each battle has a goal for each side in terms of points, and you score by playing cards to make your ooblets do different moves to buff your characters, stun the enemies, or otherwise gain points to win. Ooblets all have unique cards with special abilities, ensuring that you’ll want a wide variety of the creatures in your party if you want to be successful in your dance-offs in order to raise a strong working crew for your farm.
The ooblets themselves go into “oobcoops” on your farmland, and they’ll tend to your crops and keep debris away to make your job a little easier. They’re adorable, and I love seeing them hard at work, making sure my crops are watered and no weeds are in the way. When not teetering around behind your character, they’ll be donning little straw hats and tools as they make sure your plants stay healthy.
Most farming games have me itching for more stamina, or clawing at the few remaining minutes in the day as I try to get a long list of things done. In Ooblets, a lot of my time is spent going to bed early because I’m not quite sure what else there is to do.
There were lots of in-game days where I’d check on my crops, talk to the townsfolk, forage around town, and then spend the rest of the day napping to fast forward into the next virtual day. I often had to wait for specific crops to grow in order to progress, so I’d be stuck waiting around without much else to do.
It’s also hard sometimes to interact with items or enter buildings unless your character is facing just the right direction or standing in the exact right space, making even simple actions painful and frustrating. There were bugs that ranged from “that’s funny” to “this makes the game unplayable.”
At one point, I was in a themed dance battle where our ooblets could only use their special abilities. This would be a pretty fun fight, if I weren’t pitted against an enemy that had no damage-dealing abilities and could only stun my ooblet, locking me in an unwinnable, unendable fight that I had to forfeit. Another bug rendered my screen completely black, frozen until I restarted the game. The list goes on, making this release seem a little early, even for early access.
The music, character design, and ideas behind ooblets are so charming that I find myself wanting to enjoy the game more than the game itself allowed me to. I’m going to wait on that for now, however, and hope that things will have improved once it’s out of early access.
Ooblets will be released in early access on July 15 on PC and Xbox One. The game was played using a download code provided by Glumberland.