Match-3 Visual Novel Dream Fails To Live Up To Potential
For such a simple concept, the match-3 genre is contentious. Known to most by micro-transaction laden mobile games like Candy Crush that have rendered countless bank accounts empty, the genre was originally made famous by the practically perfect Bejewelled series (not including its own mobile incarnation). Bejewelled 3 has stayed in my lineup since 2010 and no match-3 has come close to topping it, yet I’m always on the lookout for a new one that captures the same joy without breaking the bank. That’s why when Princess Farmer released, boasting match-3 gameplay combined with an adorable visual novel, I was all-in. It’s hard to deny the charm of this color-coated throwback to anime favourites like Sailor Moon, yet overall, Princess Farmer wears a little thin, as the gameplay fails to live up to the genre’s famous predecessors.
There is much to praise about Princess Farmer, don’t get me wrong. It’s a colourful, blissful game that’s main intent is to relax you. With lovely visuals, charming characters, excellent lo-fi music, it’s a pretty soothing experience. Sadly, rather than being an endlessly playable puzzler earning a permanent spot on my Switch, I think I got my fill of Princess Farmer from a single playthrough.
Not just for those looking to learn a word or two
Playing with words sounds like the premise of a bad 90s ‘edutainment’ game, yet Letters: A Written Adventure uses that exact premise. Solving riddles is the key to progress in protagonist Sarah’s journey, making choices with words as you play. Like countless word games throughout the years, it’s simple but effective, and appropriately tickles your brain.
Don't let the art fool you. This gets dark.
True stories almost always influence narrative in any medium, but I struggle to think of games that have direct ties to those stories, especially in the way Welcome To Elk does. What initially looks like a simple coloring book of quirky characters and little mini-games quickly turns into a fever dream. This deeply personal game from the Denmark studio Triple Topping Games has incredibly unique and special moments, but even in its slower portions, I was consistently moved by its story and world.
It’s hard to believe the places Welcome To Elk goes within the first day of gameplay. Broken up into acts and in-game days, you arrive on the island of Elk. Your name is Frigg, and after a quick walk to the bar, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a party for a dead guy. It’s here you’ll meet the residents of this snowy, alcohol-loving island. From that slightly unnerving point forward, everything seems to get a little weirder.