In Review – March 2021

I really want to say “Where did March go exactly?” but I know the answer to that. I’ve spend a not insignificant portion of my March gaming time revisiting Stardew Valley, and if we’re being honest, that was not somewhere I saw myself going at the beginning of the month.

It’s not because I don’t like the game – I played for over 100 hours back when it released in 2016. I just had assumed I was basically done with it. However, a friend approached me about starting up a co-op game after the 1.5 patch released, and we just finally got around to scheduling it. I had intended to for it be something I only played with him, a couple nights a week, but after our second session, I started up my own save file, and blew through two years of farming in a couple of weeks.

I originally played through twice – once to choose each major story point route, but I didn’t come anywhere close to getting all the achievements (mostly because I am bad at video games inside of video games, and knowing that I wasn’t going to finish those achievements kind of took the wind out of my sails). I wasn’t surprised by how much I had forgotten, rather, but by how much I remembered. I don’t know how much longer I’ll continue on this particular play through, despite having chosen the best spouse in the game, but I’ve already found myself thinking about trying out the different farm maps and going through it again, and possibly again after that.

I’m not surprised that Stardew Valley has seen the kind of popularity and longetivity that it has, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much myself all over again.


My return to farming life slowed down my quest to become the Employee of the Decade and get #GoingForGold in Cook, Serve, Delicious 2! – however, shortly after my last post on the topic, that had started to slow down anyway because OH MY GOD it gets hard. I’ve progressed past level 80 out of the 100 required to unlock all the Chef For Hire levels, and at this point, I’m impressed when I manage to get through a level with a silver medal. There’s been a few that I didn’t even pass on the first playthrough.

I’m not doubting that getting gold medals on every level is possible, but I am seriously starting to doubt that I’m going to be able to do it. I still plan to hit level 100 without touching the custom restaurant, and since you do get experience from replaying levels, that’s not unreasonable. I took a break of a couple weeks, but I’ve started up again, and I plan to at least finish leveling and completing every shift.


I also finished the main story in Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth during March. I dabbled in the Hacker’s Memory DLC, but I wasn’t enjoying it nearly as much, and ended up setting it aside for now. I don’t have a completely accurate play time for it, since I accidentally left the game running one night, but I think I probably spent about forty hours with it, as well as a half dozen or so with the DLC.

Although my Switch library will never come close to my PC game library, it’s slowly growing, and I’m really enjoying having a handheld console. Now that I have it, I’m kind of annoyed with myself for debating the purchase for as long as I did.


Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m done with World of Warcraft until another major content patch, my play time is way down from what it was the past few months. I’ve reached max current renown on my main, my primary alt is geared enough for our alt raids, and pushing mythic keys is absolutely not a thing I wish to pursue. Currently, I am mostly logging in to raid, to farm materials for raid consumables, and to occasionally poke at some old content for achievements and transmog. Normally, when my play time dips this precipitously, I unsub for awhile, but since I’m still enjoying the content I am doing, and there’s not really another MMO calling my name at the moment, I expect I’ll keep on with it for awhile yet.

Our small super-casual guild just took down Sire Denathrius on normal this past raid night, so I do, to some extent, feel like I’m done with Shadowlands 9.0.


I wasn’t terribly successful with my other plans for the month. As I expected, even though I had a few games in my library to play around with, #WayForwardMarch just wasn’t my thing. I didn’t do all that much better with #MaybeInMarch – I spent a little under an hour with Bastion, and as much as I like the aesthetic of the game, I found the game play a bit frustrating. I considered restarting the game in No Sweat Mode, but as I wasn’t really enjoying it, I didn’t think giving myself unlimited deaths was going to do much to change that.

Sometimes, success looks like figuring out that something doesn’t work for you, and moving on to something that does.

Release Radar – Upcoming Farming Sims for Fans of Stardew Valley

Over the past couple of weeks, I find myself re-playing Stardew Valley. I picked it up shortly after it released back in March of 2016, and played it for well over 100 hours across a pair of playthroughs. I probably never would have loaded it up again, but recently a friend asked me to try out a multiplayer game with him, and after our second session, I started up another single player game, and it’s been all Stardew Valley all the time around here since then.

Over the last five years, I’ve bought quite a few titles hoping to recapture the magic I felt playing Stardew Valley for the first (and well, let’s be honest, the second and now the third) time. Some were pretty great – I really enjoyed Verdant Skies and My Time At Portia. Quite a few more either didn’t do it for me, or I never actually got around to playing them.

However, quite a few new titles are expected to drop over the next year, and if you loved Stardew Valley, you might want to drop some of these on your wishlist. Click the pictures to go right to the Steam page for each game!


Estimated Release Date: October 2021 (Early Access)

Coral Island looked so good to me, I backed it on Kickstarter in order to get alpha access (which is anticipated to be available sometime in June). And I don’t seem to be alone in this – the crowdfunding campaign brought in more than 23 times its original $70,000 goal! Needless to say, that hit all the stretch goals, including console ports, mod support, multiplayer, extra characters, and a more robust endgame than originally planned.

Coral Island will offer all the traditional farming sim elements – farming, fishing, raising livestock, mining, crafting, cooking, and socializing with the villagers. What it brings to the table that sets it apart is its underwater world – spend some time cleaning up the coral reefs and you might run into mermaids! I expect there will be enough here that is familiar to appeal to fans of the genre, and enough unique mechanics that will set it apart.


Estimated Release Date: April 2022

For me, Roots of Pacha looks particularly interesting thanks to the setting; it takes place in a pre-technology world! This adds an interesting research tree mechanic, where you decide which of your community’s ideas you want to work towards figuring out. You also won’t get to just pop over to the shop for your seeds and livestock – you’ll need to forage and domesticate wild animals in order to build your farm.

You will have NPC community members, but Roots of Pacha was designed for co-operative play, so it’s a great choice if you prefer farming with friends.


Estimated Release Date: May 2021

Although I didn’t personally back this one, it did have a Kickstarter, and is still accepting late pledges.

Sun Haven is closest to release, if you’re not inclined to be very patient. This farming sim has a distinct fantasy spin; you’ll be able to choose any of seven playable races, the livestock options are far from traditional, and a dragon serves as the protector of your town. Combat options will include spellcasting, and there are significant RPG elements as well as the typical farming sim fare of crafting, cooking, fishing, and socializing.

As if there weren’t already enough here to set it apart from other similar games, Sun Haven will feature a wish mechanic, allowing you to change the world around you through the power of wishing. It will also have multiplayer support at release, so this is another great choice for people who prefer farming with friends to farming alone.


Estimated Release Date: TBD

Ok, so calling Witchery Academy a farming sim might be a (very small) stretch – the concept is that the player is a student at a school of witchcraft. There are farming sim elements, as you will learn to brew potions, so you will need to grow and forage for your ingredients. The game will also include fishing, cooking, and “spell catching” but seems to lack the dating sim element that’s usually standard in these types of games.

Witchery Academy is planned to release on Steam and for Nintendo Switch, and it looks like something I’d really enjoy having on the more portable platform.


Estimated Release Date: TBD

Snacko seems to borrow slightly more from Animal Crossing than it does from Stardew Valley & Harvest Moon, but I still think it fits. You will be able to farm, and raise livestock, but there will also be a lot of mechanics catering to folks who like building and customizing the look of their town. Also, you get to play as a cat, and I mean, who doesn’t want to do that?

The developers are giving monthly updates on their blog, and progress on this game seems to be proceeding steadily, despite there still not being any indication of a release window.


Chances are good I’ll be picking up all of these games at or near their release dates, but I don’t think there’s a bad choice in the bunch if you like the gameplay loop offered by these sort of farming sims. I don’t know if any of these will be the huge success story that Stardew Valley was, but the market for this type of game still seems to be pretty robust.

Going Nowhere During #WayForwardMarch

Well, at least I can say I tried, right? Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse looks absolutely adorable, but it’s way too platform-y for me. I tried with the keyboard; I tried with the controller. I thought that maybe – just maybe – I was going to be able to poke my way through at least a bit of the game. And then:

Yes, this was the screen that did me in – I could get up one platform, usually make it to the topmost one, but that jump to the one on the bottom right? That one wasn’t happening. Over and over I went into the water, and former genies apparently cannot swim at all. AT ALL.

So back to my library I went to see what else I could find.

Now, Bloodrayne Betrayal is also more platform-y than I tend to prefer, but it’s the style of platformer that says “Oh, you missed? Try again.” rather than “Oh, you missed? DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.”

What’s going to kill you here is the combat, which hey, that’s to be expected when people are charging you over and over trying to kill you. At first, it didn’t seem like there were any sort of save points, although thankfully there were checkpoints aplenty for all the times I died. However, I eventually got through the entire first “chapter” in a single sitting only to be greeted with this.

Okay, okay, I get it, I’m terrible. I probably could plow through the game given enough time and patience, but I don’t see a world in which I’d get a passing grade on any of the chapters.

Since I had one more WayForward game in my library (and no, I have no idea how I have come to have so many games that are decidedly Not For Me in my library), and in case the third time was the charm, I decided to give it one more shot with A Boy and His Blob.

And this one is – without a doubt – charming. The opening scene is gorgeous, and both the art and the music are just warm and comforting, but man, this game tells you NOTHING. Not a thing. I kind of wandered around, looking for sparkles to indicate that I was going in the right direction, and trying to avoid the black slime critters that insta-kill you on touch. I found my adorable little blob-friend, and played a bit to try out the jellybean-inspired transformation mechanics.

Unfortunately, although this one leans more puzzle than platformer, I just couldn’t get invested. Cute will only take you so far, and I didn’t even know this was a remake, so no nostalgia for me. It plays slow, and I never was really sure why I was doing anything that I was doing. I didn’t feel clever, and I didn’t really care what was going to happen next.


While it’s possible I didn’t give any of these games enough time (all told, I spent about an hour and a half combined on all three games), my library is vast, and although I can see the appeal of all three games, none of them are the right game for me. I have completely stalled out during #WayForwardMonth, and I’m okay with that.

#GoingForGold with Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2 – First Milestone Reached

I have grossly underestimated the time requirements and scope of this project. I mean, I knew there were a lot of levels, and some of these recipes are really challenging to master, but what I had forgotten all about was this – on a fresh save, you have to level yourself all the way to 100 just to unlock all the levels.

Of course I was starting from a fresh save.

I have been completely ignoring my own restaurant, getting all my experience in the Chef-for-Hire levels. On the upside, I am not even close to running out of un-played levels, but now that I’m over 60, I’m starting to worry that they are unlocking more slowly than I am completing them. On the upside, you do get experience for repeating levels, so I’m optimistic I can keep right on ignoring the custom restaurant, because I have quite a few levels completed, but not on gold just yet.

However, today, I hit my first milestone, as well as what I think is the highest number of perfect combos in a row I’ve ever seen.

Sure, Maw Wieners is probably the easiest restaurant, but for the first time, I’m starting to think that maybe this is actually going to be possible. In the meantime, I’m working on raising my ranking by approximately five levels a day, which means it’ll take me a little more than a week to finish unlocking all the levels. And then, the real grind starts.

Quick Look – The Eternal Cylinder Beta

I can only assume the reason I hadn’t heard about The Eternal Cylinder until the day before yesterday is because it looks to be yet another Epic store exclusive title. I’m still in a weird space with the Epic Game Store; I don’t mind picking up their freebies, and I’d consider buying a game from them if I could purchase it at the Humble Store, since I already trust them with my payment information. However, it’d have to really be something I just couldn’t wait to play, because it’s rare I play anything during the first year it’s out anyway.

Still, when I received a beta invite for The Eternal Cylinder, I had no qualms about activating it and downloading it to try out. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, if you’re into that alien, vaguely creepy vibe, it ticks off a whole lot of my favorite boxes. Exploration and puzzle solving, avoiding predators instead of engaging in combat, and gathering items to enable your creatures to evolve.

There’s a distinct post-apocalyptic vibe here – the game starts when you hatch, and you’re immediately running from a giant rolling cylinder that’s crushing absolutely everything in its path. You’re so small, and it’s so big, and it is honestly a terrifying enemy, and one you can’t do anything but run away from. I definitely ran into some issues early on with not understanding what the game was asking me to do, resulting in getting squashed beneath that giant rolling doom, but once I overcame that hurdle, I was absolutely fascinated with the world I found myself in.

The directions were fine, but my reading comprehension was lacking a bit.

I liked the way that the game teaches you how to play it by making you play, but I also felt a little rushed, trying desperately to find the next thing and just keep moving. Which I suppose is the best way to survive, when you’re a small creature who doesn’t understand their world and can’t fight back. Some of the creatures will eat you if they catch you, but it’s also not terribly difficult to avoid them either. You will find other Trebhum to add to your little family, and you can change between them as necessary to have different active evolutions. There are also places where you can upgrade your group, assuming you’ve been hunting down the required materials to do so.

I spent about an hour and a half in game, and I suspect that wasn’t even halfway through the teaching areas. The current beta runs through March 25th, and I’d like to take another dive into it, this time, taking things a lot slower and exploring more of the environment instead of just pushing through to the next story point. I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this one – I’m not sure how well the conceit will hold up over a lengthy game, but so far, it’s really enjoyable, and moreover, it’s got a damn interesting concept. What is the cylinder? What is happening to this world? And what can a little Trebhum, just hatched, be able to do about it all?

Nerd Girl Goals – March 2021 (#WayForwardMarch)

Play to Satisfaction

For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.

I still have a few outstanding game-related stuff I’d like to finish up over the next few weeks, but there’s plenty of stuff I haven’t already talked about I’d like to add onto my plate this month.

Subscription MMO – World of Warcraft (Retail)

Sure, we might see 9.0.5 before the month is over, but I’m going in to March with the attitude that it’s ok if I basically want to raid log for the month. While I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel, I’ve been struggling the find the fun for a bit, and in order to get back to a place where I’m enjoying most of my playtime, I need to break the habit of doing chores for very little reward. It’s been formally announced now that unlocking Shadowlands flying on one character will unlock it for the entire account, so I plan to keep up with Krikket’s renown, and stop worrying so much about my other characters.

I’m not really all that great at playing MMOs casually, but I’d like to give it a whirl for a little bit.

Community Game-Along – #WayForwardMarch

I had every intention of skipping this month – I’m not at all familiar with WayForward Games, and a quick glance didn’t show me anything I was overly interested in. However, I did a search through my Steam library, and realized that I picked up a copy of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse somewhere, and I decided I’d at least put an hour or two into it. Plenty of games have surprised me in the past; maybe this one will as well!

Subscription Game Service – XBox GamePass for PC

I probably won’t get around to re-subbing and playing The Medium again this month, but I figure if I keep carrying the goal forward until I do get around to it, at least I won’t forget! However, since the March Humble Choice is going to feature Control as one of its headliners, I’ll end up playing my own copy of that one – I just can’t even begin to guess when.

Other Games

I think that leaves me with the most potential time for this category of any month in recent memory, and in typical fashion, I expect I’m going to over-schedule and under-deliver. The weather is starting to break here, and there’s quite a bit of real life stuff I’ve put off waiting for the snow to melt away, so I may not have quite as much time as I think I will for gaming.

I briefly alluded to this is my February In Review post, but I’ve started a not-so-small challenge project. I’m going to try to get gold medals on all the Chef-for-Hire levels on Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2. I had assumed there would be an achievement for this, but I checked it out and … there isn’t. There is, however, an achievement for getting gold on all levels on a single restaurant, and then one for 6 and 15 different ones, so I’ll have some checkpoints built in.

I had also fully intended to participate in #LoveYourBacklog month last month, but I never did get around to it. However, I’d like to jump into #MaybeInMarch and re-install Bastion, which has been in my Steam library since December of 2011. I’ve started it a couple of time, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever given it a fair shake. It’s a fairly short game – HowLongToBeat says it takes about 6 hours to finish the main story, so it’s not like it’s a huge undertaking. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this game; I’m not sure why it hasn’t managed to hold my attention.

I expect I’ll be able to finish up the main story of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth this month as well. I mostly play for a bit before bed each night, but I have also played a little in docked mode on the living room TV. I actually think I like handheld mode better! I’ve already finished the first 15 chapters, and even if I do need to take some grinding time to level things up, finishing up the last five this month feels very doable.

Finally, the Magic: Legends open beta is scheduled to start on March 23. I’ve been interested in this one since it was announced, and I am very much looking forward to trying it out later this month.

And who knows, I may find myself unable to resist the siren song of Valheim – it feels like absolutely everyone is playing it, and I am definitely intrigued, although I fear it’ll prove too difficult to really be much fun for me.