If Pokemon, Harvest Moon, and Animal Crossing had a baby…
Currently in development and self-published by Glumberland, Ooblets is many, many things packed into one cute game. Players take on the role of a newcomer to Badgetown, a town filled with Ooblets, which are adorable little creatures that grow from seeds and love to dance. Having moved there specifically for the Ooblets with nary a gummi to your name, the mayor kindly gives you a home, sets you up with an Ooblet, and hires you on the spot. What’s your job? Well… basically anything she needs — from fulfilling orders, fixing up homes and businesses, turning the Oobnet back on, and even getting a gift basket ready to bribe city officials to re-incorporate Badgetown. Whatever Mayor Tinstle needs, Mayor Tinstle gets.
Don’t worry though — you’re not like an indentured servant or anything. By completing tasks, you’ll receive gummies, the currency around these parts, and sometimes wishies, which are like experience points that can be used to unlock special things or receive rare items. But who cares! You’ve finally made it to an island with Ooblets! You even have an Ooblet of your own! Yay! What does this mean?
It means you can participate in some pretty epic dance battles against other Ooblets, who, upon defeat, yield seeds to plant even more Ooblets that will follow you around town. The dance battles themselves are card-based, turn-based battles, wherein each team tries to get to a certain number of points before the other. By busting some sick moves and gaining as much hype as possible, these dance battles are pretty much over before they start — they may be easy, but they’re certainly fun!
After obtaining a seed, run back to your house and plant it to get another Ooblet to follow you around. The more Ooblets that follow you, the stronger your team is in dance battles, plus they do offer a helping hand around the farm so they’re just nice to have. Speaking of the farm, you’ll want to start getting crops going soon, as you’ll need to farm items to fulfill orders in exchange for gummies, use to build structures around town, cook a variety of foods, or give to Ooblets to initiate dance battles. And since you’re the only one around town with a farm, you’ll need all the help you can get!
Of course, there’s more to island life than just farming and dancing — take your Ooblets around town and mingle with the people. By speaking to them each day and giving them specific items that the hankerbot reports they’re hankering for, you can increase your friendship level with the townspeople to earn stickers, furniture, clothing, and other fun items! You’ll also gain valuable XP, which, upon leveling up, means gaining wishies as well.
There’s also plenty to purchase for the home and body — upon arrival, the house you’re gifted isn’t exactly in tiptop shape. By fixing the house and then buying wallpaper, flooring, furniture, and eventually expansions, you’ll be able to turn this house into a home in no time. Additionally, there are clothing options and different hairstyles/colors to choose from at the salon — for a fee of a few gummies, naturally. One awesome thing of note is how inclusive the hair options are, as there’s a few different kinds of straight, curly, and even head-scarves! For just a handful of options, there sure is a variety!
As far as gameplay in Ooblets goes, most of the day is spent wandering around town, breaking into people’s homes and taking their items. Collect recipes and crafting materials as you complete tasks for the townfolk, turn garbage into bait to go dangling (fishing), and other general dailies. Be sure to get a good night’s rest, though, as running out of energy means you can’t do anything. Eating food items or drinking beanjuice will get your energy up, so that is an option for those not ready for shut-eye. Just watch that energy meter!
It’s insane to me that I’ve spent 700 words describing everything you can do in the game and I’m still leaving a few things out. Ooblets may appear like a cute little game, but it’s incredibly deep with an overwhelming amount of things to do. In fact, the word “overwhelming” almost describes Ooblets too perfectly, as there are a lot of moving parts to keep in mind. It’s easy to spend an entire day collecting items and totally forget about watering crops, or spend gummies on something you want, only to realize you should have saved them to complete a task for a townie. Ooblets is absolutely not for the faint of heart — it’s a commitment, and one that requires effort to get the hang of things.
Ooblets’ currency system also feels a bit unbalanced and reminds me slightly of free-to-play mobile games. I earn gummies to purchase goods, but I use wishies to purchase hard-to-find items that I’d otherwise spend days looking for or new tiers of goods to be purchased at the stores. It’d be fine if XP was easier to come by, but it’s honestly a chore. You’ll need 100 wishies to get stuff you truly need, but by accomplishing your dailies you often only net 0 – 30 a day, meaning a lot of time passes before you can truly progress. It is worth noting that earning badges will grant wishies, but after your first 5 – 10 badges, you hit a wall, so that only lasts for so long.
The dev team behind Ooblets also stresses that the game is still very much in early access, meaning there will be a lot of bugs and other weirdness to put up with. And while I haven’t run into anything game-breaking, there’s certainly odd things here and there, like placeholder text and assets clipping where they shouldn’t. Despite how rough it may appear in specific areas, it’s absolutely in a playable state, and the devs are furiously releasing updates in response to the players’ feedback on the Discord server.
I think the biggest surprise for me was just how hard it felt to progress in Ooblets. It’s entirely possible I’m doing something wrong, but I just don’t know which items I need to hang onto, which ones I can sell, how to find some of the rarer ones, etc. It’s very easy to hit a wall in Ooblets because so little is explained from the get-go; I had no idea there was a limit on how many Ooblets you could have, and I had to go to the Discord to find out how to even build an Oob coop. It’s not the most intuitive game, but despite my frustration, I legitimately can’t tear myself away.
Additionally, I’m guessing it’s easier to play with a controller, as keyboard input isn’t the most intuitive. Again, perhaps I missed the part where I can change that, but if that isn’t the case, be prepared for a bit of frustration. Just remember the tab button is your friend — check that book regularly, as most of the answers you seek will be in there (by pressing tab).
Even though Ooblets’ initial dopamine payout has already worn off for me, I find myself still itching to play. I know the developers are working hard at fixing every last bug, but I question balance more than bugs. It’s easy enough to polish up placeholder texts, but how tf am I supposed to buy 10 beanjuices to progress in the next world when that request costs more than what I earn in a week? And why does everything cost Oobsidian when only gleamies drop it or you buy it for 100 wishies, when, again, both are exceedingly hard to come by? I wish I could progress and I’m annoyed it’s not coming easily, but I literally can’t stop trying regardless. I’m hooked.
Listen, I LOVE Ooblets. I may have complained a little bit, but like, the things we love aren’t always perfect, right? Right. And the dev team is so dedicated that I feel like once Ooblets exits early access this game will be pretty close to perfection after all. With its absolutely charming writing, aesthetics, gameplay, music, etc. etc. etc. it’s honestly a solid experience go buy it now on the Epic Games Store kthnxbai.