Like the Great Elevator which takes you from beach to garden to mountain, Promenade unites several game elements you know and love in a way that still feels fluid. All this opens up a world that we were itching to explore. The collectathon gameplay is addictive, and the routes and puzzles are rewarding to complete. It might not elevate the genre, and it's not without faults or difficulty spikes, but that's okay with us because most of what it does stacks up.
Spirittea serves up a creative and addictive (after)life-sim loop of attending to bathhouse spirits and helping townsfolk. The tools and menus don't offer the most fluid experience, and the minigames are often overwhelmingly complicated, but there's enough to do here that means you can dip in and out of things when you don't like them. Anything you do like, you can soak in for hours.
Garden Buddies does a sprinkling of things well, but it doesn’t excel at any one thing. At its root, the solid concept and intention is let down by its lack of depth and reward for achievements. It’s not terrible at all, but with so many other relaxing, cute games competing to calm you, we think it’s okay to give this one a miss.
Cocoon is a fun and addictive puzzler. Its unique mechanics and gameplay had us glued to our screens, and it’s gorgeous to boot. Its lack of story is a minor disappointment, but if you love puzzles and aren't bugged by fast-paced combat, this game will be an easy favourite — even if it flies by all too quickly.
For the most part, Mineko's Night Market will be enjoyed by people who like to curl up with a compelling narrative and relaxing tasks. It's fun gathering materials and discovering secrets. And did we mention you can PAT THE CATS?! Without sneezing! What a joyous, allergy-free delight. As for whether it was worth the long wait, well, we recommend holding off a little longer for another of its nine lives – one with some patchwork to address the snags on Switch.
In Venba's short play time, the narrative-led cooking game conveys so much of this family's experience. The stirring story is presented in snackable chapters, each with an emotional tale tied to a dish. The puzzles aren't too challenging, making for a comforting, cosy playthrough as you prepare each meal. Be warned though: this game will make you hungry. And it may also make you cry.
Your enjoyment of Everdream Valley will depend on how you like to play the farm sims already on your Switch. If your primary goal has been about raking in the gold, beautifying your farm, or finding The One, you might not dig it. If you’ve never played a farm sim before, and want to till your first tile, we don’t recommend starting here. However, if you love caring for your animals, and want to see life through their shiny eyes, Everdream Valley could be right in your paddock.
Fall of Porcupine has a lot of potential, but our diagnosis is that it's fallen short. The cute art style and evocative soundtrack are its main drawcards, and while the wide-eyed animals can mask the dark themes of an unhealthy system, they can't quite cover up the haphazard story or keep players engaged. We felt the game needed either a stronger narrative thread or more involved gameplay to improve its condition. Performance bugs can be treated with patches, but it'll take more than a band-aid solution to cure the ailments in Fall of Porcupine.
Maquette's strength mostly lies in its beautifully told narrative and wonderfully voice-acted characters, and if this were a review of the story alone, we might give it a higher rating. The gameplay is interesting, however, there's often only one right answer. Plus it's hard to ignore performance issues like stuttering and the dreaded restarts. For us, playing Maquette was a lot like Michael and Kenzie's relationship. It was sometimes wonderful, sometimes frustrating, and, though it's probably not something we'll return to, it was worth our time – even if it didn't last long.
Despite its lack of musical cues and somewhat varying difficulty levels, Melatonin’s suite of challenges is a delight for rhythm game fans and it’s so satisfying to nail that PERFECT. It doesn’t fill the Rhythm Heaven-shaped hole in the Switch’s portfolio, but instead it creates a dreamy new space filled with cotton candy colour, energy, and, most importantly, fun.
In Aka, you get to be a cute hero in a pretty landscape, taking naps and strolling through trees. So dreamy! It's just a shame the game has launched with this many bugs. The frequent stalling of progression and basic tasks is a little wearisome and players need a little more paw-holding to grasp the objectives. At this stage we'd recommend waiting for a few more patches, then playing the game in all its fluffy glory. That way, you get to soak up a red panda's life of luxury. Who wouldn't want that?
Wavetale is a gentle, easygoing game that suits players who don't want to strain themselves, as its quick runtime ensures the play doesn't dry up. We enjoyed skidding around on the ocean and swinging from great heights with our grappling hook. We only wished the camera movement and other mechanics were a little smoother. The game is nonetheless pretty fun – after all, it's hard not to enjoy surfing through a picturesque, water-filled landscape. While we've played far better games, we felt like this short title was still a good one to dip your toes into.
Lonesome Village takes elements of life-sim legends and a large handful of Zelda references and wraps them together in very cute packaging. It may not have the richest narrative, but it will absorb and soothe you – even in its short playtime. Barring a few drawbacks with player experience, specifically around menu navigation, this game offers up some good wholesome fun without the sweaty button-mashing of combat. If you're puzzling over a new cosy game to play, Lonesome Village just might be your solution.
Beacon Pines presents a rich world filled with deeply considered, not to mention adorable, characters. The beautifully crafted art, paired with a soundtrack that both captures and sets the mood, make for a wholly enjoyable experience. It might not be for those who prefer action, but it is a lovely and compelling story that sees Luka, Rolo and Beck delve into a bevy of unique situations. You might finish it in less than a work day, but it'll stay with you for much longer.