Soothing experiences and frustrating bugs

Ooblets was first launched on PC over two years ago. It wasn’t particularly well advertised or marketed, but it got a ton of word of mouth thanks to the drama surrounding its platform exclusivity and a Tweet taken out of context.

The drama surrounding the launch was very ironic given how remarkably fresh the game was. Here’s the story if you’re new to Ooblets. You play as someone who steps away from the routine of everyday life in the ordinary world to a new town where a dilapidated lot looms before you and is in dire need of TLC. While laying out your landscape, you befriend the people of your town, do odd jobs, and perhaps encounter some bizarre creatures.

In this case, these bizarre creatures are called Ooblets. These tiny, adorable little beasties live alongside the island community that I can only describe as if the people of Seattle and Portland had a child and that child bought a private island.

Ooblets themselves are small creatures rarely taller than the knees that like to befriend and help the humans who live around them. They create a bit of a Pokemon-like mechanic where you want to find “all” of them, including their faded and glittery variants. But unlike Pokemon, these don’t want to hurt themselves. Instead, they face off in sudden dance battles. A boombox will be dropped, Ooblets will gather to watch, and the two sides will face off via a fun card game that grows in complexity over time.

Ooblets-Clinkton

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the dodgy treatment of these creatures when you make them work for free on your farm. I’m not even going to get into the concept of moving to a new land, gathering the living beings I’ve recently discovered, and putting them to work in my fields. If you’re past college, you can already feel it.

Luckily, they seem pretty darn happy about it. So it’s good.

As for the main gameplay loop, it’s best described as Steven Universe without the conflict. The music sounds like the kind of music Steven would walk the boardwalk to. The creatures seem like a mix between something cute from this show and Adventure Time. And above all, you will just focus on what you want. While there’s a stamina meter and a bedtime, there’s no real in-game schedule, so you won’t have to worry too much about your virtual life slipping away from you.

Ooblets-Sitting-Outside

Sneaky commentary aside, this game is remarkably soothing. The simple gameplay loop, the ability to go at my own pace, the relaxing music, and the bright colors – it all combines into something akin to stimming. It was satisfying for no reason other than to feel like it was.

Unfortunately, there’s a pretty serious problem that prevents it from being a must-have relaxation game. Although this game has been released elsewhere on other platforms, this game has bugs for days on Nintendo Switch. Bugs so bad that I had to completely close the game and reopen it.

For example, the most important piece of furniture you own in the game is your bed. You need it to mark the end of the day, refuel and start the next chapter of your life. So when I bought a new bed, emptied my old bed, and then ran into an issue where the game just wouldn’t let me open the menu with my furniture so I could place my new bed, I freaked out. I tried to figure it out for a while with the game letting me know that if I didn’t sleep soon my character would be exhausted the next day. Eventually I saved, closed the game, reopened it, and found I could suddenly access my furniture inventory.

A similar thing happened when I had to return some items to an NPC. I looked for it everywhere to finally find out where it was. She was on the other side of a door that couldn’t be opened yet. Half stuck in a wall too far for me to interact with. Again I saved, closed the game, reopened it and found her walking down the street acting like she wasn’t just doing Kitty Pryde nonsense a minute ago.

Hopefully this is all fixed in a day one patch because the game, upon loading, proudly lets you know you are playing version 1.0.0 of Ooblets. So I have to imagine there is a patch on the way. But for now, this potentially relaxing game makes me want to throw my switch in the lake whenever I’m making good progress and need to turn it off. Especially with the fact that the game has very long loading times.

The title screen itself requires about a minute or two to watch a gif. Walking to the next part of a map or into a building can sometimes take 20-30 seconds. And while you can deal with it let me tell you when you do that thing where you leave your farm and forgot you left something so you immediately turn around and go back it’s infuriating when this is equivalent to punishing you with a solid minute of black filtering.

Long story short, Ooblets has a lot of potential to be a great, soothing Switch game. It’s something I’d love to take with me for coffee or just lay in bed and enjoy. But at the moment the game is really buggy and if you’re like me, trying to find a game to calm you down, this might not be the best choice. Much of the frustration of having to stop the game loop and spend the next five minutes saving and turning the game on and off can completely defeat what I imagined many were going to play this game for.


Ooblets Rating (Nintendo Switch): 6.5/10

Ooblets has the potential to be a fantastic, calming game to fill Animal Crossing’s lack of updates. But the long loading times and numerous bugs turn what should be an adorable and relaxing game into a frustrating experience.


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Lance B. Holton