Cozy Grove measures out its game sessions in snack-size portions, and its gorgeous artwork and genuinely laugh-worthy dialogue almost make up for its metered-out gameplay. Sadly, with a few technical issues on Switch, and the game's refusal to let players set the pace, it's one best played on a mobile device for now.
While not by any means the best Story of Seasons game on the market, Pioneers of Olive Town is promising and disappointing in equal measure. Perhaps future patches will iron out some of the issues with framerate and boring character dialogue, but for now, potential buyers should be aware that this game isn't quite in a state we can recommend.
More than that, though, it's a true joy to find a game that doesn't stretch out its stellar moments with long sections of padding. Every minute you spend in Later Alligator is time well-spent, with background details to look at, terrible puns to appreciate, and a noodly jazz soundtrack that's full of bops. It's worth the price, we say, because it has the highest laughs per second (LPS) of any game we've played. That's damn good value!
If you're looking for the next Stardew Valley, this doesn't even come close. Harvest Moon: One World is a poor imitation of what the series once was, and it feels more like a rushed mobile game than a full-fledged Switch game. These games have always been about chores, but this one feels like a chore to play. In our opinion, your money is better spent on something that respects you as a fan of the genre.
For people who loved the collect-craft-combat loop of Fantasy Life, this game might scratch that same itch, and it'll certainly take up a fair few hours – even if the "combat" part is missing. Littlewood is an incredibly impressive game for a solo developer, and though none of its ideas go particularly deep, it more than makes up for it in breadth. Fans of the life sim genre should definitely seek this one out.
Astrologaster is perhaps the only time you'll ever get to play through a pop-up book version of London's 17th-century medical history. It's an extremely specific pitch, but when it hits, it hits well – and its musical interludes are as delightful and giggle-worthy as any of Shakespeare's best. Sure, it's not going to be to everyone's tastes, but if you're looking for something a little different and you're a fan of the classic British historical sitcom Blackadder, then you could do a lot worse than give this a spin.
Haven is a beautiful game about a relationship that is best in its quiet moments. The conversations and tenderness between Yu and Kay, its two leads, are the lifeblood of the game, and everything else is secondary. Its interesting combat system would benefit from a bit more signposting, and the flying traversal is a fun sci-fi addition to the game that works more often than it doesn't. Still, it's a wonderful experience, especially in co-op, but perhaps one to get on sale.
Heaven's Vault is a game deeply concerned with the past, how it affects the present, and whether or not it can predict the future. Its fantastic translation puzzles and intricate story are often overshadowed by its unfortunate need to constantly pause and load, sadly denying it the higher score that it otherwise deserves. Aside from these technological issues, Heaven's Vault is a world that's beautifully realised, with a mystery that you'll be thinking about long after the game is done.
Olija is a piratical adventure that really, really pays attention to atmosphere. From its bombastic music, which echoes similarly pirate-themed Return of the Obra Dinn, to its arthouse-cinema-style sudden cuts to black, Olija is possibly the most cinematically dramatic indie game we've seen in quite some time.
Calico is still a little too buggy for us to recommend. It's fun to ride a huge cat off a cliff in an ice cream sundae outfit, but less fun when you get stuck in said cliff and your face turns inside-out. There's a lot of love in this game, but it doesn't quite outweigh the issues – and given that we've already seen more than one patch issued since launch, we're not convinced the developer can pull this one back from the brink.