Everdream Valley Review

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Farming sims and ‘cozy’ games in general are increasing in popularity – probably due to the fact that they are an escape, a way to take you out of the real world for a while which, let’s face it, is appealing now more than ever.

So, we picked up a controller and entered the world of Everdream Valley, the latest farming sim to hit the Xbox. Will this one offer anything different to the myriad of other options out there such as other new releases My Time At Sandrock and Paleo Pines?

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The world of Everdream Valley awaits

In Everdream Valley you play as a child, dropped off to stay with their grandparents for the summer to help around their farm which has started to decline with broken fences, escaped animals and rubbish littered throughout. Initially, the thought of cleaning and mending their farm doesn’t sound appealing to your character but their enthusiasm increases throughout the game. Presumably the developers hope this is mirrored in players as we weren’t all that keen at the start either.

You are set a series of simple quests which act as a demo at first, showing you how to perform various tasks such as how to cut down trees for wood, which you can use to fix items around the farm. As the game continues, your grandparents give you quests to complete, teaching you new skills and unlocking new items, such as animals for the farm.

You have an inventory, which does get filled up very quickly as you gather up rubbish and bits of old tat lying around the farm (maybe this old crate will come in handy someday?). There is additional storage in the form of chests, however a couple of annoyances here. If your inventory is full, any items you collect or are given are put straight into your chest. You are told this by an on-screen message but it is easily missed and has led to wondering where items are on more than one occasion. Plus, to use items they have to be in your inventory which becomes an organisational nightmare when you have garnered a lot of stuff. It could take a leaf out of My Time At Sandrock, where most items can be used from storage chests.

One feature that I enjoyed though was the ability to train a cat and a dog who will follow you around and can help you with tasks around the farm. In addition to looking cute, the cat will catch mice and bugs (which you can use to make animal treats) and the dog will help you locate and herd animals. Everdream also offers a touch of magic, which comes in the form of mini games where you take on the form of one of the farm animals at night. The result of this impacts, either positively or negatively, on your farm the next morning.

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Night dream adventures!

Locating where to go for quests is simple as a map is shown in the bottom left corner, and a larger version can be accessed via a menu. You can assign the quests with different colours, which show as a marker on the map to show you where to head. It also shows you where various objects, people and animals are located. The world is divided up into the farm and outside areas, which is small at first but increases in size as you build bridges that enable you to cross rivers. New areas are shown on the map covered in clouds, which clear when you enter them. 

The surroundings are colourful and full of interest with fruits and fungi to harvest, wild animals to tame and plants to dig up and relocate in the farm. The only danger you’ll encounter are animals such as angry geese and swarms of bees, and the only damage you get from these is a hit on your stamina. Stamina is also depleted by actions such as sprinting (by holding down the left trigger), chopping wood and cutting grass (that can be used to make hay to feed your animals). It can be increased by simply resting, sleeping or eating. 

All the usual farming sim tropes are here – you have the ability to craft new items, cook, grow and harvest crops, raise animals, catch bugs and fish. The addition of mini-games when carrying out some tasks is a point of difference in Everdream Valley. For example, when cooking a meal you have to point the thumbstick in the directions shown and hold it so it enters a green zone on a dial. When milking a cow you have to point the udders in the correct direction and milk only when they are above the bucket. These are very simple and can get more than a little repetitive. It would be good to see some variation in these. For example, the cooking mini game could vary depending on the dish you create, taking a cue from games like Cooking Mama.

In fact nothing in Everdream Valley is going to challenge you. Tasks are explained in detail via short animated tutorials, and you can return to these at any time by accessing a menu. Quests are uncovered at a pace that is neither too slow nor too fast, ensuring you always have something to do but are never overwhelmed. But there is a problem, and it’s a big one. We felt that there just wasn’t enough motivating us to carry out the tasks. Maybe it’s just farming sim fatigue but the thought of caring for yet another type of animal, learning how to build a new machine or even a new dream adventure just doesn’t result in making the game more exciting – it just provides the player with extra chores to do.

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Love a bit of farming? Everdream Valley is a decent option

As is usual in these types of games, time passes going from day to night. You can choose to enter the farmhouse to reset time and start a new day or carry on working through the night if you wish. However, if you are outside the farm during the night you will come across wolves. If you are caught by a wolf the day will be reset and you will find yourself back at the farm the next morning. If you are out exploring and don’t want to have to run home as soon as it gets dark you get given a tent that will protect you from wolves and allow you to sleep outside.

Like the tent, some of the items you need are given to you by your grandparents but most can be foraged, cooked or crafted. In case you can’t be bothered, a merchant has set up shop just outside the farm. He will also sell you new breeds of animal and improved tools. To make money you can sell him items you pick up, along with fruit and vegetables that you harvest, and animals that you raise. You’ll never be short of things to sell and will probably have a daily visit as harvesting items is as simple as running through them and we ended up with objects we didn’t even want on more than one occasion – filling up that limited inventory.

Everdream Valley is a pleasant enough addition to the ever-increasing roster of farming sims on Xbox and the dream feature is an attempt at setting it apart from other similar titles. It’s a decent enough way of whiling away a few hours, but won’t keep us returning to the farm for long.

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