Ooblets opens with a very familiar concept: you play as a character who is tired of their old life and moves to the island of Oob in hopes to start a new one in Badgetown. It establishes itself within minutes.. The town and its inhabitants are all full of life, and they are all incredibly welcoming towards you. Having no knowledge of what Ooblets actually are, the game gives you a catalog of them to fill out as you play the game, letting you see them and what items are needed to initiate a battle with one.
When you make acquaintances with the citizens inside the town, you get introduced into the four core groups. There are the Frunbuns who are all about cute things and sweets, the Peaksnubs are all about competitions and becoming leaders, while the Minnpins are representative of being nervous and all about science, and my personal favorite group the Mossprouts are basically outdoorsy folks. They don’t really open up until you level up your character and unlock their bases. However, The four groups are all charming and relatively interesting in the first moments.
From what I played, none of them get into any conflict with each other but they all just live peacefully in the town. Badgetown reminds me of Pelican Town from Stardew Valley, and while the latter has more somber moments in it; the life and joy that people have in those places is incredible and makes me come back for me, making me more invested in those spaces and the people who live there. The people in the town are often wandering around with their own individual Ooblets, as well seeing the wild Oobelts wander around the town and following you around for a bit makes the world feel lived in.
The Ooblets are the star of the show in the game. They are incredibly adorable and each of them have their own personality. My personal favorite is the Shrumbo, they are basically a mushroom but their individual designs are unique. There are ones who look like a crab, ones that look like a finch, and one that look like a cactus. On top of the cute designs, you can earn accessories for them. On my Shrumbo, I gave him a cute safari hat and a monocle and nicknamed him, Shr-Himbo. They are also key in winning the dance battles to unlock seeds to plant and grow other Ooblets.
When you get your shack to live in with the small plot of land attached, it is very humbling. You are tasked with using the land to farm and boost the local economy. When you first begin to work the land, there is a “Farming Mode” which makes the tasks ahead much easier. And while in this mode, you are able to see how much longer your crops have till they are ripe for harvest. .
Now, most crops take anywhere from a day and half to a week. However, Ooblet seeds all take a day. At least, the ones I have encountered. Being able to collect the little babes and battle other Ooblets is where the game becomes something radically different. You engage with other Ooblets by collecting one to four items that they want, and then you battle them to get a seed from them. The battling system caught me off-guard because you have to challenge them to a dance battle.
When you initiate a battle, either by gathering the items necessary or by entering the Dance Barn. The dance battles resemble a turned-based card builder. On either side of the screen there is a bar which is counting your dance points, it can vary from anywhere to twenty to forty dance points. The number of points needed to win is dictated by how many Ooblets are needed for that particular battle. The amount of cards you can play depends on your beats, which is your mana so to speak. Some cards can grant a buff or debuff, fluster & hype. Hype allows for you to increase the amount of dance points you can do with a single card and Fluster does the opposite.
There are also charge-up moves & stun moves which prevent you from using an Ooblet’s specific move. It’s a really fun system, and engaging wild Ooblets grants you a seed which allows you to grow one, allowing for you to expand your deck so to speak. There were times when the battles got some choppy frames, but it wasn’t super noticeable in the grand scheme of things.
When you successfully win a battle, your Ooblets will gain some experience points and when they level up, they get more signature cards to use in battle. Depending on the setting of the battle, wild Ooblets grant seeds and battles in the Dance Barn grant wishes. Wishes are used to unlock new blueprints, abilities, and useful crafting items which can be sometimes hard to find. You also get these through completing daily tasks and collecting badges, which are in-game achievements. The unlocks really ramp up when you start to level up more and it was challenging to keep up with them initially, because it felt incredibly sudden. However, it becomes more manageable when you focus on one task.
Tinistle, the mayor of Badgetown, often gives you tasks to help bring the town back to life. Now, most of the early tasks are simply just introducing you to the systems that are present. One of my favorite systems in the game is the sticker system. You get stickers by simply talking to someone everyday. You see a bar fill up when you chat with them, and they will often ask you a question and get four prompts to answer back with, or even give you a task to do. Two of my favorite people to chat with are Outgrid, who is all about giving back to the planet, and Vivion who is apparently an alien who is studying the inhabitants of Badgetown for his research. When you earn a stickeryou are often given a gift as well. The mayor gave me a copy of her hat when I got a sticker with her. It’s a fun system, and allows you to see the characters more simply by chatting with them.
Ooblets is a game which really surprised me. I came to the game because I love games where you are able to farm and get immersed in a community, and help them overcome their internal problems. The battle system really caught me off-guard because I thought it would be simpler than it was. I am very eager to see what Ooblets I can add to my team, and what challenges lie ahead when the game receives more updates.
This game was played on an Xbox One S system with a code provided by a PR representative.