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Wylde Flowers Preview – Colours Abound

I believe it’s magic

It’s noticeable within my brief time with Wylde Flowers, the farming simulator crossed with witchcraft created by the Australian team Studio Drydock, how utterly charming everything is. Each character has their own sense of charm and defined characteristics, making this small village feel homely and accessible. Of course, there’s far more to this little slice of adventure than just that, but it’s hard not be pulled into a warm embrace even from the outset.

You play as Tara, a young woman returning to her hometown in Fairhaven to look after her grandmother and the family farm, which is sadly not as well kept as it once was. Things take a surprising turn when Tara discovers the secrets of town, her story becoming one of self discovery as new bonds are forged with the very many locals.

Wylde Flowers pitches itself as a few things, but primarily it gives you the ability to craft and maintain crops and farm animals, all the while creating long-standing relationships with the townsfolk and building out your skills to create new opportunities. So, not too unlike Stardew Valley, but there are some very distinct and important differences in its storytelling and side quests that allow it to thrive in unique and colourful ways.

A humble little farm, at least to begin with

First and foremost, there’s magic. When the sun goes down, Tara can brew potions, fly around on her broomstick and most important of all, turn into a cat. Because who wouldn’t want to turn into a cat (they have nine lives after all)? Yes, there’s way more going on behind the scenes in Fairhaven, and the trick will be to balance normal farm life with the magical essence of witchcraft.

The hands-on PC demo gave me a solid understanding of the general mechanics and the important opening beats of the narrative. Everything handles rather simply through keyboard shortcuts and mouse control, never feeling overbearing or needlessly complex. Of course, Wylde Flowers originally released as a touch screen-controlled iOS title through Apple Arcade, but the transition to a more traditional control method hasn’t come with any technical issues, if this little byte-sized portion of the game proves representative of the final product.

But beyond the daily need to water plants or head into the town to purchased necessary items, it’s the personal and well developed relationships you can forge that take centre stage, emphasised by an excellent voice cast including Erika Ishii (Destiny 2, Apex Legends), Valerie Rose Lohman (What Remains of Edith Finch) and Cissy Jones (Firewatch). Every character feels alive and believable, despite the cartoonish nature of the visual presentation. That’s largely thanks to the cast and a well written script that never talks down to its audience, naturally progressing from one bit of dialogue to the next.

A wonderful voice cast brings each character to life

More importantly, Wylde Flowers is open in its representation, allowing you to romance whomever you wish amongst its friendly range of characters. This open and inviting choice allows you to become the person you want to be within the town, as it should be, and helps to emphasise how endearing the townsfolk are (yes, even the mayor, although you get the feeling he’s up to something).

Though my time with the demo was brief, it was just enough to leave me wanting more, to discover the other secrets that await amongst the township and forge those bonds with every single character. The colourful space that is Fairhaven felt like a warm hug on a cold winter’s night, a genuine place that I look forward to spending more time within, and thanks to its simple yet effective interactivity, it’s incredibly easy for just about anyone to pick up and play – all the more inviting to those awaiting its full release.

More importantly, you can pet the cat!

Wylde Flowers is currently in development for Nintendo Switch and PC, and while we wait for a release date, you can check out the demo yourself during the Steam Next Fest June 13–20. Or if you really, really can’t wait, you can check out the game on your own iOS device via Apple Arcade right now.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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