Staxel a Good Mashup on Nintendo Switch?
What can we say about Staxel. It seems to want to be Minecraft, but it isn’t Minecraft. And it seems it wants to be Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, but it isn’t Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. So what is it? It’s a mashup of some of my favourite genres – building and farming – that has me more excited than I’ve been in recent memory for an indie title! While there are hiccups along the way, there is so much that keeps me going!
Staxel uses a Minecraft aesthetic and while it’s most definietly not a block-for-block remake of that game, you can most definietly see the similarities. I’m not a fan of Minecraft, never have been and likely never will. So obviously the look of Staxel had me a bit skeptical. But it wasn’t the games look that kept me playing, but rather the various tasks I was able to do, the expansion I was able to create, and even the minor farming I was able to do.
Ah yes, farming. It is here and in abudance, using all the same concepts from every other farming simulation title. You hoe the ground, plant crops depending on the season, water your crops, and ultimately harvest your crops. There are a number of different crops you can purchase and plant, which are tied to specific seasons. Staxel isn’t doing anything ground breaking with the farming simulation stuff – it’s all really standard fair, and that’s a-ok with me!
There are also animals to get, but you’ll need to build a barn or coop first to house them in. And that’s where Staxel sets itself apart from other farming simulation titles. Unlike Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons, where you use resources to get a predetermined building and layout, in Staxel you place down a signpost, note the area in which you are allowed to build, and begin constructing your own barn or coop. While you can just throw up a roof and a few feeding troughs to create a ‘barn,’ you can also go all out and pick nice walls, a few extra features here and there, and more. You can meet the minimum building requirements, or you can go above and beyond. And let’s be real – more often than not, we are going above and beyond!
But leaving the farm will open you up to a host of new things to do and accomplish. Folks around town have tasks, whether it’s catching bugs, finding resources, or even building them houses! While the variety in quests might not be huge, they are still fun to complete, slowly pushing the town forward. There are events of course, and so much more to uncover, which will really keep you moving forward at a good pace.
The game isn’t without its issues, however. Selling items is a bit of a slog, as you slowly place items on the bin with L-Trigger and sell with R-Trigger…over and over and over again. And the crafting menus are a struggle to work through. What’s worse is that you’ll need to check your crafting menu to see what you need and where to go, as opposed to having that information stored within the various crafting benches themselves. And there are a lot of different benches to use, some for tiles, some for dealing with raw resources, some for combining two different items, and more.
But overall, Staxel is just relaxing, and so often we need more of that in our lives. I’ve quickly come to terms with this not being the perfect game in terms of mechanics, and instead of have realized it’s my current relaxation game. And we all know we could use more relaxation in our lives!