Ooblets Preview: A Pastel-Colored Paradise
Farming sims are a calming, lovely way to unwind. The creature comforts of planting, harvesting and management offer a safe, relaxing escape from the usual violence and anxiety of FPS and RPG titles.
While popular farming sims like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing cater to that need for self-styled structure and order, most stick to making farming a menial task with purely monetary rewards. Enter Ooblets, a unique take on the farming sim genre that replaces our crops with quirky creatures that we can cultivate for battle.
Developed by indie game developer Glumberland, this striking combination of deck-builders and farming offers a wacky respite from traditional sims, with hilarious worldbuilding and obnoxious talking monsters. For those looking to experience a wacky island run by a child mayor where groovy dancing battles decide arguments and build friendship, Ooblets is the ridiculous game you never knew you wanted.
Revenge of the Strange Island Sim
A quirky mixture of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, Ooblets offers a mildly satisfying assortment of loveable narratives to enjoy. From its outlandish child mayor to its many other absurd characters and spunky Ooblets, learning more about the silly island was a pleasure that never ceased to delight me.
Unfortunately, the lack of an ending can disappoint players looking for a conclusive end to their adventures. Even our character’s premise, a workaholic turned Farmer immediately falling into financial debt upon arrival, felt slightly derived from its animal Crossing and Stardew Valley counterparts. While these developments are nothing new for veterans of the farming sim genre, players looking for a breathtaking story will be disappointed by Ooblets lack of narrative depth.
Overall, you’ll find a colorful cast of characters and stories to enjoy if you can get past the lack of a definitive ending. After all, our story isn’t about saving the town but assimilating into it. Once we’ve given our character a rich house, good friends, and oodles and oodles of Ooblets, we can end the game knowing we gave ourselves a good ending.
A Visually Absurd Wonderland
The sheer amount of visual aesthetic poured into Ooblet’s silly world creates an enchanting world of absurdity. Whether we’re watching Ooblet’s silly dance battles or the laughably clumsy townsfolk, a charming flavor of nonsense adorns every visual facet of the island’s jobs, characters, and items.
Instead of gaining wealth, we earn gummies; fishing turns into sea dangling, and every real-world food and item changes into their made-up counterparts like Squishmallows and Zinooka Cakes. While understanding these gibberish words and nonsense activities almost feels like learning a new language, we’ll find ourselves speaking fluent Oobleteze within an hour or two.
Overall, Ooblet’s wacky visuals are its greatest strength. Though players looking for a serious, realistic world are bound for a rude awakening, the meticulously designed silliness behind Ooblets wacky world transforms even the most mundane task into a silly adventure.
Dancing Farmer meets Magic the Gathering
Ooblets gameplay is a delicious mix of farming, deckbuilding, and dancing. Harvesting fully grown Ooblets grants unique cards we can employ in dance battles to earn more seeds and gain more Ooblets. The visual and mechanical payoff of besting our foes with homegrown Ooblets made it worth the painstaking effort it took to gather the seeds, water the crops, and reap our harvest.
Unfortunately, Ooblets suffers from shallow deckbuilding and grinding mechanics. While synergies between Ooblets encouraged mixing and diversifying our deck, late-game deck overloading and a lack of card variety made Ooblets pale gameplay compared to deck-builders with more optimized systems like Slay the Spire and Inscryption. Worse yet, gathering Ooblets favorite items so we could challenge them to dance battles often turned into a chore that demanded an unreasonable amount of grinding and labor for a single muffin.
Overall, while Ooblets problematic deckbuilding and tedious grinding rear their ugly head many hours in, my first impression of Ooblet’s gameplay was positive enough to recommend its unique take on the farming sim. As a plus, the variety of other activities, like “sea dangling” (fishing) and arcade-like minigames, offers a plethora of fun if we grow weary of deckbuilding and grinding.
Snazzy, Funky, Otherworldly Tunes
Ooblets soundtrack is an unforgettable experience. The mixture of strange sounds and cherry beats can turn even the dullest menial task into a comfortable jig. With the legendary composer behind Omori’s soundtrack behind the reigns, Pedro Silva, it’s no surprise that the music remained a delight to listen to hours later. Though the soundtrack was never potent enough to bring me to tears, it had just the right amount of variation between upbeat exploration music, calm tunes, and energetic fight themes. All in all, Ooblet’s music sells the game’s wacky world and is enjoyable enough to listen to long after we finish playing.
Mostly Oobletastic UI
While Ooblets’ UI presented almost no graphical issues while running, late-game areas suffered from recurring instances of stuttering and a few inventory bugs. These issues will likely be more pronounced with Switch owners and lower-end PCs, where there’s been an almost nauseating level of stuttering in late areas of the game. Still, the stuttering and texture issues are rare enough not to derail our wacky adventure, and such bugs are likely to get patched out in the coming weeks.
From Shack Bum to Gummy Entrepreneur
Ooblets progression never ceased to delight. Working our way from a lowly farm plot with a dusty shack to a bustling field amongst a towering townhome felt empowering and mechanically rewarding. While starting off can feel intimidating, our windfall of gummies after the first few harvests grants access to various new cards, tools for wooing, and wacky new activities that continue to expand our economic gains.
Better yet, Ooblet’s world opened up with quirky new regions the further we progressed in the story. From snowy mountains to spooky swamps, each area offered a collection of new characters, Ooblets, and items to flesh out our world. Though a few regions require us to perform slightly dull activities, i.e. walking up a hill or enduring tedious dance battles, the sheer thought put into each biome makes our adventure ever-expanding.
Overall, Ooblets’ progression system succeeds in catering to explorers and entrepreneurs. Whether we’re looking to found a flourishing Ooblet enterprise or get to see more of the island’s wacky locale, Ooblets’s progression system offers a trip through absurd lands and a ridiculous economy.
An Absurd First Time
Unless you’re determined to speedrun your first playthrough, Ooblets doesn’t lend itself well to replayability. While it may be a delight to go through the introduction with the child mayor again, the overarching gameplay and narrative remain entirely the same, with few differences between playthroughs. Worse yet, we’ll have to work to regain access to locked regions on a second playthrough.
In total, while our first playthrough of Ooblets is likely to remain a charming, novel experience, later run-throughs quickly get irritating and tedious. I advise going for full completion rather than replaying Ooblets if we want to make the most of the game.
Alternative Ooblet-Approved Adventures
To be blunt, Ooblets isn’t for everyone. The turn-based combat and weak deck building elements can turn off players looking for sims based purely on farming and management.
Instead, I advise checking out other games with more dedicated farming elements or optimized deck battles. While these games focus more on specific core elements of Ooblets, they’re also highly successful in their areas of expertise and worth replaying.
Here’s a few titles like Ooblets:
- Stardew Valley
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Harvest Moon
- Slime Rancher
- Slime Rancher 2
- Slay the Spire
Overall Pros and Cons
- Fantastic Quirky Aesthetic
- Interesting World and Characters
- Farming Feels Rewarding
- Ever-Expanding World
- Grindy Gameplay Becomes Tedious
- Shallow Deck Building Mechanics
- Subsequent Playthroughs Lose Charm
- Lack of Emotional Stimulation
Question: What are Ooblets?
Answer: Ooblets are silly sentient creatures about the size of small dogs native to our character’s island. They roam freely, constantly getting involved in silly antics, and solve most of their problems through elaborate dance battles.
Question: How do I get Ooblets?
Answer: After impressing an Ooblet with a specific gift, we can woo them in dance battles to gain access to their seeds. After sowing, watering, and harvesting each Ooblet seed, we’ll gain access to a new Ooblet we can recruit for wacky adventures.
Question: How Long is Ooblets?
Answer: The lack of a definitive ending means that Ooblets is never truly over. However, speedrunners only focused on the main narrative will likely finish Ooblets in 3-4 hours, while completions can take upwards of 15-20 hours.
Question: What Platforms is Ooblets on?
Answer: Ooblets is currently limited to Switch, Xbox, and PC platforms. Despite the PC and Xbox release in 2020, Ooblets released on the Switch on September 1st, 2022.
Overall, Ooblets’ fantastic aesthetic, quirky creatures, and loveable narrative were a delight from start to finish. The sheer creativity poured into the Ooblets’ wacky world never ceases to amaze me with its clever word puns or outlandish characters.
Although the tedious tasks and often shallow deckbuilding dull the fantastical experience Ooblets offers, it’s easy to fall in love with our cutesy environment and adorable characters. Working our way from a shack-dwelling bum to a successful Oobletier was a memorable adventure with many friends made along the way.
All in all, I’m looking forward to returning to Ooblets after I’ve forgotten the story or the developer adds new content. Though the cutesy charm and narrative appeal may lose their luster on future playthroughs, I can forever appreciate the lovely aesthetic and listen to Ooblet’s catch soundtrack for time immemorial. I’ll forever treasure my time in Ooblet’s pastel-colored paradise.