Ooblets? Ooblets. Ooblets! What on this good, green earth is Ooblets, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s one of the best damn farming simulator/collection games you’ll probably play this year, and you need it in your life. Ooblets was developed and self-published by the amazing duo over at Glumberland, Rebecca Cordingley and Ben Wasse, and has initially been released as an Epic Games store exclusive as well as on the Xbox One. This year has brought a bunch of new farming simulator titles like Atomicrops and Farmer’s Dynasty, but Ooblets has by far surpassed anything I could have imagined in an adorable life simulator game. Grab your beanjuice and Grumboires, because we’ve got a lot to digest. This is our review of Ooblets.
Welcome to the Land of Oob
There is so much to unpack about Ooblets that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Your character has come to Badgetown to start their new life, but they don’t exactly have a means to sustain themselves or a fallback plan in case things go awry. Luckily, the colorful and witty Mayor Tinstle gives you a broken-down shack with a surprisingly large piece of farming land to do with what you’d like, as long as you help out around town. The council has been bothering her to do something with it (it is kind of an eyesore) so if you can do anything to fix the shack up-it’s yours. Goshzookie, I wish someone would have done that for me when I hopped towns after moving out on my own.
From the looks of things, Badgetown doesn’t have a lot of farmers, so Mayor Tinstle puts you in charge of filling out some bulk orders for businesses in exchange for “gummies”. These little purple blocks of currency can be obtained through a variety of activities on the island from completing Tinstle Tasks that help you progress and upgrade the town, to trading in your “wishies” that you earned from interacting with your friends, scanning your ooblets for Rugnolia’s research at the Lerning Center, and so much more. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Stickers and Badges Make Everything Better
The people of Badgetown all have their own little quirks and personalities, as well as a cute language that’s native to Oob called “Oobish”. Phrases like “Howdo,” “Dailyo,” and “My squishin’ heart” are all common expressions that you’ll hear when you interact with the locals. One of the most rewarding things you can do, literally, is to just take your time and talk to folks every day. While there are some lines that do repeat eventually, the more you talk to the main cast of characters, the higher your friendship meter moves, and the more little side quests you can unlock. Every time you fill up the meter, you’ll hit a new friendship level and earn a sticker for your “Grumboire” that represents your friendship with that character. There’s also a nice bundle of wishies, gummies, resources, or ooblet accessories in it for you when you grow closer to your friend.
Along with cute stickers from advancing your friendships, you can also unlock some spiffy badges for your Grumboire. Each badge comes personally delivered from Legsy, Mayor’s own personal ooblet, and usually awards some wishies to go along with it. Wishies, alluded to before, can be exchanged for all kinds of goodies like store upgrades that unlock new hair and furniture, stat improvements, raw materials, and much much more.
On the topic of hair unlocks, ladies can have facial hair, and I love that so much for some strange reason. There are also some wonderfully inclusive hairstyles that feature dreadlocks, curly hair, and a hijab that you can purchase for gummies at the Snups hair salon. It’s little touches like this that make you feel like the creators put a lot of thought and care into the players’ experience and wanted to make sure that everyone could create a character that they could identify with. Kudos!
Mossprouts are the Best Sprouts
Joining a club in Badgetown is one of the first choices you’ll get to make in Oob. Your club will determine which ooblet you initially start out with. I choose Mossprouts, the outdoorsy adventure club, so I started with Shrumbo, a cute little toadstool-like creature who is an absolute monster on the dance floor, and I haven’t looked back since.
Let’s get to the meat of Ooblets, and that is, of course, collecting more ooblets. Where you’re from, ooblets don’t exactly exist, so it’s initially a bit of an adjustment for your character to learn to become dependent on them for work. Ooblets are your friends, funny little plant-like, alien friends, and “we don’t breed friends” – Mayor Tinstle 2020. If you experienced the Pokémon phenomenon that began in the late nineties, you’re probably already starting to draw some comparisons between the two-and you wouldn’t be too far off! Think Stardew Valley meets Pokémon, and you have the adorable and innovative tribute that is Ooblets.
Dancing with Cards
However, one of the key components that makes Ooblets stand out, is that our little ooblet friends aren’t pitted against each other to fight, instead, they settle their differences with turn-based dance battles where you play moves with cards. It sounds kind of silly, but it works really well. The battles are paced nicely, and they’re just downright fun to play. There’s enough diversity in battle music and staging that each dance-off still manages to feel engaging and fresh. Each round you get a number of resource points called “beats” to spend on dance move cards. You can play these cards as long as you have enough beats to do so. You can also generate “hype”, which stacks and makes the effects on the cards more powerful. The first ooblet team to reach the target number of points on the dance floor is the winner! Simple as that.
My one gripe with the dance-off system, is that battles just feel far too easy to overcome. Ooblets doesn’t give off the vibe that it’s trying to make you pull out your hair to power-level your companions; that’s not what it’s about. As some of the characters have stated in their conversations, don’t stress out about the game, just take your time and enjoy it. If you try to push forward too hard and too fast, you’ll just burn yourself out and you’ll miss the main point of the game: to relax and have fun. Despite its laid back message, I just found myself wanting a little bit more challenge from my battles. I have yet to lose to an ooblet or local. Maybe I’m just reeeeally good at dance battles. Let’s go with that.
Growing New Friends
Where the ingenious farming mechanic loops back in with your ooblets, is from growing your own ooblets from the seeds they drop in dance-offs. You read that right, at the end of a dance-off, you can collect a seed from the ooblet, plant it in your garden, and grow new companions to accompany on your journey throughout Oob. You can even participate in the Dance Barn tournament, and gain new seeds from beating your opponents! New ooblets appear in town everyday, so when you go outside you might spot a new color of a familiar ooblet. If you defeat them in battle, you’ll get a special seed that grows an ooblet of a similar rarity. “Gleamies” are the best rarity, and can supposedly drop items for you if you leave them to wander around at home. My Bristlebud, however, just lazes around all day and doesn’t give me squat. Moocher.
A Typical Day in Oob
So, what is the main point exactly of Ooblets? Collect an army of ooblets from across all rarities and walks of life, make friends with the locals to unlock nifty rewards and bonuses, and enjoy decorating and gardening around your farmhouse. You have an energy bar that depletes everytime you gather resources, but there are several ways to get it back.
I’ve encountered games that try to punish players by forcing them to end their days early if they run out of energy, so it’s refreshing to have alternatives that make me feel like I have more choice over how much I want to get done during the day cycle. Ooblets lets you craft and loot energy restoring items that can help push your character through the rest of the day when you just need a little more time. “Beanjuice” is a great way to replenish energy, and can be purchased at the local coffee shop Cuddlecups and crafted by the player when they earn the recipe. You can also take short naps in your house without sleeping the entire day away to recover a little energy.
You can spend your day gardening, talking to locals, fishing, dancing with ooblets, or a combination of all these things. The world is your treabie! One thing I might suggest is to increase the time in between the music loops for town music-just add a few other notes. Any notes. After hours of dancing and gardening, I started to feel dizzy from the same five seconds of music. Changing towns, entering shops, and dance battles were the only activities that could give me a reprieve.
Small Bugs You Can’t Catch
From the moment I loaded up Ooblets, I knew that it was going to be a wonderfully, adorable game that I would enjoy, and it didn’t disappoint. However, there were a few details that I discovered along the way that did bug me a little bit.
The first of these concerns the little accessories you can place on your ooblets. While they fit perfectly in the hands or fluff of some ooblets, others couldn’t wear them at all without a large portion of the accessory clipping through their heads or lower bodies. I so wanted my dumbirb to have an umbrella and a witch hat, but they just couldn’t figure out how to hold it straight, bless his squishin’ heart.
A few hours into playing, I noticed that I’d have trouble getting doors to open for me sometimes, or objects wouldn’t interact at all. It took pressing ‘escape’ and coming back into the game for the problem to finally right itself. It’s a small detail, but can be a little annoying when you have to keep pausing the game several times in a row to harvest crops.
Drums of Doom
Hoooly hecc, I don’t know what I did, but at one point I went to play my annoying drums for the people and just completely broke my game. Everyone in the vicinity of my drum-playing stayed in an animation loop where instead of cheering, they looked like they were shaking with fear, and golden particles flew out of their heads with what sounded like terrified screaming. I started panicking a little when I couldn’t bring up the pause menu, but was immediately relieved when I could change items in the menu bar and stop the chaos from ensuing. I’ll just…stick to my toot-toot horn.
A lot of these details are super nit-picky, but they were enough to halt me in my tracks for a moment and make me question my sanity. It doesn’t take much. Even so, if these are the only bugs that pestered me throughout my playtime, I think Ooblets is doing pretty dang well for just being in Early Access. None of these things really and truly broke my game, just inconvenienced it, and will more than likely be ironed out in the weeks to come.
Final Thoughts and Impressions
Ooblets is a delightful life simulator that I could play for hours on end and never get tired of. It’s the best mixture of all the things I love in games: farming, housing, fishing, collecting, and pet-battling. I’m not sure how they managed it, but all of the systems and mechanics flow effortlessly and connect extremely well to each other. There was never a point in time where I felt like they just threw in a system to pad the game or make it seem more involved than it is. Each feature is well-thought-out and enjoyable to partake in without feeling too grindy or repetitive. There’s just enough variety between the tasks and quests to keep you engaged and pushing forward to unlock new places to explore, activities to play, and rewards to enjoy.
If you’d like to purchase Ooblets you can find it on the Epic Games Store for a 20% launch discount at $19.99, as well as on the Xbox One. Ooblets is coming onto the market in Early Access as easily one of the more polished games I’ve seen to date with hours of engaging content to justify the price.
A copy of Ooblets was provided for the purpose of this review.