Wylde Flowers Review
From a poor witch, to a witch with a massive fish stick empire.
Publisher: Studio Drydock Pty Ltd
Is it weird that whenever I see a game that has witches, and specifically have the character you play be a witch, I always want to jump on it? I’m one for farming/life sims so when I saw Wylde Flowers I already had an urge to play, but when I heard that there was a witch coven and you find out you’re a witch as well, I just had to check out this game.
Unlike many other farming or life sims that put farming or living a virtual life to the forefront, Wylde Flowers puts its story to the forefront. Here, you play as Tara Wylde who has recently decided to leave the big city and live on an island town known as Fairhaven. What caused this drastic decision to leave everything and everyone she knew behind? Well, we do learn that not only was Tara engaged and was days away to being married before it was broken off, but she lost her job in the same week. Plus, she heard that her grandma, Hazel, wasn’t doing too well so she decided to move to Fairhaven to take care of Hazel, take over her family’s farm, and build the farm back up to its former glory.
To get a bit personal here, the part about Tara’s grandma did hit me more than it probably will for others. I actually had a big move, when I was a teen but still, due to my own grandma’s health (though my grandma didn’t die until years later). I also, well, teared up during a particular event that happens when you change the seasons from Spring to Summer.
After arriving, Hazel will teach you the basics, you’ll be able to do a little catching up with her as it’s been years since you’ve been able to talk, and be able to meet others that reside in Fairhaven. Everyone you’ll be able to meet are really nice and have unique personalities and backstories. Every day you’ll be able to strike up a quick conversation with them, you’ll get to know them more as the story and your friendship with them progresses, and you can even romance some of them.
It doesn’t take long before you learn about the secret Fairhaven holds. It turns out that there is a secret witch coven that meets at night and Tara herself is a witch. Heck, Tara comes from a family of witches, as you’ll learn that Hazel is a witch too (and a well respected one at that) as well as some of her family members. Crazy right? While you won’t know who the other coven members are right away, you do get a fun little story bit where you use context clues to figure it out. So not only will there be storylines involving the town, but also involving the coven whether it’s that you need to find a way to fix things without drawing too much attention to the fact there are witches or if it’s kept within the coven. I really enjoyed Wylde Flowers’ story, so much so that I couldn’t stop playing and I was pretty sad when I reached the end.
At first, I really wished I was able to make my own character, but as I played more I came to really like Tara. I really enjoyed Tara’s personality, I liked how her backstory was integrated, and how she interacted with all the other characters. I don’t think the game would be the same without Tara being her own character and having to have the other characters dance around your character’s name during dialogue.
If you’ve played other farming sims, don’t worry, the gameplay here doesn’t stray too far. A weird thing here is that you won’t be planting crops right into the soil, but instead you need to craft garden beds to place within the dedicated gardening space. Each garden bed will let you produce four of whatever crop or flower seed you planted and all you need to do is make sure to remember to water your crops every day. You will also be able to craft compost bins so you can produce soil and beehives to produce honey when you have fully grown flowers. The more flowers you have, the quicker your bees will produce honey (just don’t pick them until right before you change the season).
You’ll also be able to chop down any trees to get much needed wood, use your pickaxe to destroy any boulders on your farm, mine for ore in the mines that are conveniently on your farm’s land once you fix it up, pick up any forageables that spawn, fish (which is pretty simple here as you just need to wait for one of the fish shadows to bite before reeling it in), and increase your relationship with the other characters. You will be able to talk to them once daily, increasing your relationship with them a bit, but the real deal is gifting them food. Granted, it’s best to gift them their favorite food which will require you to progress more to either unlock it or find it while fishing or digging. Some characters do have shops that open during certain times and they will occasionally put up a task you can pick up and do for them in exchange for some money and friendship points. For the recipes you do have, you will be able to use anything you foraged or grew to make them into food for you to either eat to regain energy or to gift.
Of course, Tara has an energy bar so you won’t be able to do everything you want. At the start, it’s pretty abysmal, showing that Tara is far from being used to the farm life. This does make the start of the game slow, as you won’t be able to do much and you won’t have that much money or crops to have energy restoring food, but soon enough you will be able to do more. Once you hit story milestones, you’ll get a spell to increase your energy and you’ll be able to take the ore you mined, plus some money, to upgrade your tools so you’ll use less energy when using them. Oh, and don’t forget to go to sleep on time, least you fall sick and have to wait until Amira is on the clock.
You’ll also be able to use being a witch to your advantage as well. Hidden within a secret basement in your grandma’s house, you’ll be able to brew potions and write incantations to help you out. Depending on what you brew or write up, you can increase your crop yield, get your plants to grow a little faster, make Tara be able to run faster, change the weather, and even be able to use your broom once you learn how to ride it. However, while brewing potions only require you to have the needed ingredients, incantations will take from your magic pool. Your magic is limited, especially at the beginning, and you’ll need to make donations to the wellspring (usually flowers) to fill it back up. Don’t worry though, as you will get a spell to increase your magic at certain story milestones.
Oh, and a particularly interesting aspect of Wylde Flowers is that you don’t really have that much of a rush in regard to seasons changing. Part of it is because of the fact that this is so story focused and it is divided by the seasons, as certain events are directly involved with whatever the season is bringing to Fairhaven, but the seasons can’t change without the witches doing it themselves. You can practically stay in, let’s say, Fall until you’re ready to move on. This does lift a bit of pressure as you don’t have to worry about planting crops too late into the season.
You won’t just be growing crops on your farm as there are other workstations you can build as you progress. Giving you the ability to make other products to sell like paper, candles, and cloth just to name a few. You will also be able to go to Parker with the needed resources and money so he can build buildings so you can have cows and chickens, repair needed aspects like the mines, or expand so you have more room for your garden beds or in your tool shed.
There are also three different settings you can pick to determine how long each day will be. You can challenge yourself with having each day go by fast, have a relaxed approach and have your days go by slowly, or be in the middle. The best thing about this is that you an change this setting whenever you want. It does feel like cheating sometimes, but say you want to be in the mines longer without worrying about sleeping, you can change it so the day will last longer. Or maybe you just don’t have that much you need to do so you have the day move faster. Or, worse of all, you need to buy or sell something and it’s too close to closing time (and they’ll be closed the following day) so you slow down time to higher your chances of making it.
I will also say that I recommend not putting too much stress on getting a lot of seasonal crops harvested before turning the seasons. A couple of each just in case you need them for recipes you have or will have? Yes. But a bunch? No. Trust me, I went a bit overboard with Spring crops and I barely needed them. The only thing you really need to make sure to get are the forageable nuts as I would say they qualify as a rare spawn. Though, I do recommend moving towards getting the larger garden plot built before Summer.
I only really have a few complaints towards Wylde Flowers. For one, I do wish the characters, or at least Tara, had different clothes that they wore depending on the season. The story also ends on Spring Year 2, which means you can’t change the seasons again. On one hand, it stinks that you won’t be able to get certain foragables (with nuts being those you can’t buy from shops) or have the environment change again; but on the other you’re pretty much at the end game where there’s nothing else to really do other than getting the rest of the achievements.
I did hear talk that there might actually be more planned for Wylde Flower’s post game, which I’m excited about if that’s true. There is a bit of post-game already there, with some epilogue stuff and post-game quests, but I did see the potential of a Year 2 storyline following what happened and how everyone adjusted to the changes that happened in Year 1 (sorry, no spoilers). Plus, there is still that lighthouse that never got fixed and that could be a great way to introduce a new character taking the job as the lighthouse keeper.
Wylde Flowers does have a slow start, but once you get through it, it really grabs you and won’t let go until you reach the end. It isn’t as complicated as other games in its genre, but I honestly did like how simple this game was. The simplicity really helps with its gameplay loop as I know I couldn’t bring myself to stay away, with each play session often being 4-6 hours long. I also ended up liking all of the characters, even though they did annoy me sometimes, I liked the art direction, the voice acting is really good (and I was pleasantly surprised with how many lines were voiced), and really enjoyed the story.
I enjoyed Wylde Flowers so much that I couldn’t stop playing until I did everything, which landed me with about 74 hours of play time. If you’re someone that likes farming/life sims, and don’t mind that this is more story driven, Wylde Flowers is 100% worth picking up no matter the price.