Ooblets has been on my radar for a long time. Since its original February 2017 announcement trailer, I’ve been waiting for a chance to play this game. From the outside, Ooblets looked like a mix of Pokemon, a gardening sim, and Animal Crossing. When you mix all those ingredients together, you’re certain to get the attention of many Nintendo fans. I’m pleased to report that even if this game borrows some small parts of the franchises I mentioned, that those pieces come together to form something entirely original. Developer Glumberland has a very interesting game on its hands as it enters Early Access on PC and Xbox One. So far in my experience, the bugs have been somewhat plentiful, and many times hilarious, but they were never bad enough to turn me away from Glumberland’s game.
Ooblets is a game that oozes with charm, and it arrives during a summer that is stranger than most. This game is here to bring joy, and oh boy is it fun. The pages of Glumberland’s playbook are brightly coloured and totally weird. The charm comes from a lot of the great decisions that the team made along the way, be it art style, the jiggling heads of your Badgetown neighbours, or the almost baby talk like names of all the items you collect on the journey. Are you familiar with wooden planks? Sorry, that’s a Plankie in the world of Ooblets and Taffy has a hankering for one. If that last sentence makes no sense, don’t worry, that’s all a part of the Ooblet experience. I’m hours in and much of what the game asks me to do still dazzles and confuses in a charming, almost Willy Wonka like way. That same sensibility carries over to the whimsical graphics and the off-center citizens of your oceanside community.
There are loads of tasks to complete each day before bedtime in Badgetown. You can garden, scavenge the city for collectible items, complete town member tasks, and of course, you can train your Ooblets in battle! Battles are player-initiated dance-offs against a rotating roster of Oobs hanging around town. If you have the correct item (each monster is different, some want four Plankies and others wanted three Spressy) you can challenge an Ooblet to a turn-based card dance battle. That’s right, card dance battles… When you win, the creature you challenged offers up a seed of itself so you can grow one of your own and add them to your roster.
While I have yet to find an unbeatable battle or any real challenge, I really like the battle system. It is well thought out with new conditions added along the way. I can see the developers trying to print a table top version and selling it separately. The early trailers had a more straightforward battle system that you can find in any turn-based game, but these dance face-offs remind me of my favourite tabletop games. Each Ooblet has special cards unique to them in battle and different reasons to add them to your party. The biggest fight I’ve seen thus far was 6 on 6, but I’ve done all variations in between. 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 appear daily in the Battle Barn, and that’s where I’ve had most of my problems. Again, this is an Early Access game so bugs come with the territory, but I’ve regularly had the game soft lock on me between the daily tournament challenges. By the time you read this, the game could have been patched, but I’ve had to close out the game on my Xbox dashboard upwards of five times for different reasons in that area. My advice? Save between battles.
Your team of Ooblets is broken up into two squads, the “Followbabies” and the “Homebabies”. Currently, I have eight Followbabies. Yes, all eight of these Ooblets follow me around town and it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. The Homebabies hang around your garden and after some upgrades can tend to your crops. My largest critique of the game is the Ooblet cap. If you go hard at the dance battles like me, you’ll hit the total creature cap pretty fast. It’s disappointing that there is no way to dismiss an Ooblet or trade/sell them and their seeds. I made the mistake of grinding to “Catch Em All”, but it’s a long, slow process with the current cap. There are Ooblet coops that can expand the total creature count, but upgrading them has a high resource cost. I have so many wilted Ooblets all over my garden waiting to be hatched. I wouldn’t have planted every creature I battled if I knew of the cap prior. Unfortunately the browning, dying Oob pods are currently an eyesore, so my garden aesthetic makes me very sad.
Let’s talk about the other major features in the game, fashion and farming! There are all kinds of items to unlock and to work towards. Be it in the house, on your body or in the garden. For gardening, you can set up auto care systems like squirt guns and sprinklers. As I mentioned before upgraded Ooblets can tend to crops, water, and weed. There is always a reason to grow in this game, whether it’s tied to daily goals to earn “Wishies” or complete off-island orders to get “Gummies”. Each crop you grow can be mixed into many island delicacies. These items can be sold or given to island inhabitants to increase friendship levels or earn you cash to buy sick monocles, witch hats, and furniture. Ooblets has a cooking system where you mix up raw ingredients and their processed forms to make nonsensical items like the carrot hot dogs.
Before we go, I have to mention the stellar soundtrack. It’s simply the glue that holds the package together. Never intrusive and always a great backbeat as I farmed beets. Seriously, the music rules. If a soundtrack drops, I’ll be first in line to snag it. It fits the battles well, but really shines during exploration. Ooblets has a bumping style of music that makes its town chores a treat.
Everything in this game is different. From its bobblehead cutscenes to its break dancing pirate fish title screen. Charm seeps into every corner, and what’s exciting is there is more to come. This is only Glumberland’s first step as they march toward full release. I want more of their silly vernacular, I want to do more “sea dangling” (fishing), I want to find out who and what the heck Taffy is!
Today, Ooblets has its fair share of bugs, but the crazy world they have crafted more than makes up for it. Every inch of Badgetown warms my squishin’ heart and makes me yell Goshzookie with glee. This game is an exciting seed that I plan on watering and checking on as it continues to take something I like and becomes something I love. With more travel locations, features, and fashion items on the way, I can’t wait to see how this game grows.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8.5/10
Replay Value - 8.5/10
Ooblets has a few Early Access bugs to weed out but it is still a Ferntastic gardening adventure!