Take your time
Backyard Story is one among a number of indie video games that surprise-dropped on the Swap this week, and it’s frankly cute. It tells a enjoyable story a couple of tiny grape, Harmony, who has to turn out to be a Guardian and combat the Rot. However at its core, it’s additionally about neighborhood. Backyard Story isn’t nearly defeating evil, however constructing a house, and the way everybody contributes to that house collectively.
There’s one thing about constructing a neighborhood that feels actually good in video games. So many video games take you thru cities, however I actually just like the moments the place I get to construct one thing I can name my very own; whether or not that’s a village in Dragon Quest Builders, or a mining operation in Dyson Sphere Program, or a fortress in They Are Billions. Backyard Story hits those self same notes, however with a concentrate on neighborhood—how every particular person helps in their very own manner.
When you’ve performed by means of the early tutorial sections, Backyard Story provides you a spot to name house and a bulletin board. Day by day, the residents of the city put requests on the board so that you can maintain as Guardian. It’d contain clearing out some Rot, the gooey monsters that plague the idyllic cities; or it’d imply repairing some fencing, or re-establishing a bridge; and even simply selecting up some assets to place within the storage field.
These duties are fairly simple, although they fortunately haven’t ever turn out to be tedious. Most of Backyard Story to this point has targeted on assets, and progressively selecting up requests to refill meters. The extra you assist round city, the extra retailers can open up and supply higher gadgets.
Second-to-moment, Backyard Story can really feel like loads of totally different sorts of genres and video games. It’s most likely closest to a Legend of Zelda sport, with top-down exploration and fight, and a few dungeons to discover. It has some cool bosses from what I’ve seen as effectively, and the tools Harmony is selecting up appears actual enjoyable to work with.
The tools is the place issues begin to really feel a bit totally different, because the second city—the one I’m at present working my manner by means of—options the Dowsing Rod closely, as a type of fishing rod. I can use it to seize gadgets out of the ocean, pull enemies nearer, or rip shells off the heads of Rot so I can hit them with my Choose.
There are parts of gardening and resource-growing too, although they appear fairly low-key for the second. And with the setup of the sport, it appears to be like like Harmony will doubtless transfer from space to space, serving to every little village within the Grove (the world of Backyard Story) get again on its ft.
However Backyard Story has additionally simply been about constructing a house. The extra duties I full, the extra energetic the city begins to really feel. Some townsfolk may even begin to ask me for favors, or simply chat with me as I’m going about dealing with the day’s issues. I acquired some lenses for one character, a strong-hearted little cherry, and so they have been moved by my assist. They even supplied to face guard at my house within the evenings, so I didn’t have to fret about kicking out any Rot earlier than going to sleep.
Add on a fully unimaginable look, with some actually wonderful pixel artwork, and a few good, cheery tunes, and Backyard Story makes for a really stress-free sport. Often, guidelines video games can put on on me after some time. Even in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I might get sometimes stressed about ensuring I made my rounds daily, and maxing out my potential beneficial properties and revenue. (To not point out the Turnip Market, which was a complete factor.)
With Backyard Story, and its fortunately offline story, I’m discovering myself utilizing it as a solution to unwind on the finish of the day. The Stardew Valley comparability may be apparent, due to its artwork type and backyard focus, however the thread I’m discovering between the 2 isn’t simply the look or topic materials, however the common temper.
Backyard Story is about hanging out round city and serving to folks out. It’s about selecting up some duties and contributing, and feeling such as you’ve carried out one thing good for the village. It’s hitting some assets and seeing slightly observe within the nook of the display that claims, “Harmony is studying the worth of contributing,” after which activating a brand new Reminiscence—a solution to slot in expertise and stat upgrades if you relaxation—that displays what you’ve realized in the middle of serving to out.
By way of these little moments, Backyard Story finds methods to indicate by means of development, gameplay, and story how a neighborhood works collectively. How its members can look out for each other, and the way the entire can carry one another up. It’s a comfy, nice little expertise that’s rapidly turn out to be my go-to on the Swap, and if constructing a quaint hamlet crammed with cute frogs and fruit hanging out seems like a very good time, you’ll most likely dig it too. And did I point out there’s a cactus named Saguaro?!