There's something about calm, positive farming and life-sims such as Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing that has made such games so popular. Perhaps it's the idea that a serene life like that could be accessible to anyone, and such games give you a sort of escape from your reality, if only for a short time. While some farming and life sims of the sort are available on iOS and its allied platforms, Apple Arcade has been missing a game of this sort, till now.
Wylde Flowers is a new game that is very similar to the popular games of its genre, but with an interesting and magical twist in the plot. The core aspect of the game puts you in control of Tara Wylde, a former city resident who returns to an idyllic small village called Fairhaven, to take over the operations of her grandmother's farm. However, there's a lot more depth to this game, including local politics, relationships, topics of diversity, culture, and inclusivity, and of course, the economics of running a farm.
Conversations and building relationships are an important part of the experience with Wylde Flowers
Wylde Flowers review: simple controls, complex game mechanics
The game controls are about as simple as it gets, and are customisable to suit your preferences. There are only two key controls here; movement through a virtual joystick, and a tap to interact with the world. Interactions include talking to people, picking up objects, and tasks such as watering crops, operating machines, chopping wood, mining for metals, and purchasing items at stores. Walking around across the island can be a time-consuming affair, but it helps you gather objects you see, and talk to people you meet along the way.
Despite the simplicity of the controls, the actual game mechanics are considerably more complex. You need to keep track of the time, day, weather conditions, your inventory of materials and objects, and the funds you have earned and have available. There is also an energy bar that is replenished by sleeping at night (sleeping on time is rewarded), or by eating or drinking. The food you eat is either given to you, purchased, or crafted using materials in your own kitchen. Later in the game, the ‘magic' bar becomes important as well.
While you can find much of what you need by simply walking around and gathering items, some things will have to be purchased, or you'll have to engage the services of townspeople to convert items into usable material. Similarly, you can sell crafted items for money, or even gift them for goodwill and friendship to certain people. You do have to keep an eye on the time and day, since stores have operating timings and you might occasionally find a store closed if you land up during off hours.
You can buy things you need from stores, but you need to keep an eye out for timings and your funds
Wylde Flowers explores themes of diversity, culture, religion, xenophobia, and even a bit of politics
What appealed to me the most about Wylde Flowers was its approach to its world. The key gameplay element is the plot line where Tara Wylde must take over and run her aging grandmother Hazel's farm, along with discovering that she has magical powers like some of the other residents of Fairhaven.
Speaking to various residents including old friends, fellow farmers, and the mayor of Fairhaven, you find that the residents have deep respect for Hazel Wylde. However, recent events have lead to questions being raised that hint at growing xenophobia and intolerance in the community. The more you speak to people – even for a minute while walking past someone – the more you're likely to discover about the town and its happenings.
You will also have to make choices along the way as you interact with the residents, often having to choose between conservative and capitalist values, versus doing what you feel is right. The residents themselves are a diverse bunch, covering all races, religions, and sexual orientations. The depth and element of discovery adds so much more to this game beyond the basics of farming and making a living in a small and somewhat self-dependent village.
As someone with magical abilities, you can use spells and potions to your advantage in Wylde Flowers
Wylde Flowers review: promoting good habits
A major theme of Wylde Flowers is the idea of leaving behind city life for the peace and quiet of village life. However, there are plenty of other things that discreetly point you towards healthy habits. Vegan food and herbal concoctions tend to give you a bigger energy boost than other kinds, and as would be the case on any coastal island, fish forms a big part of the diet. Eating at the diner is possible, but is naturally more expensive than cooking your own food at home.
Sleeping on time is rewarded with more energy, living off the land is a profitable enterprise, and fostering good relations with fellow residents rewards you in unexpected ways. However, what will perhaps appeal to players the most is how very little can go wrong here; the village of Fairhaven is safe, the residents are friendly and helpful, and the worst that can happen is that someone, most likely Mayor Otto, will say something to annoy you.
Wylde Flowers review verdict, final thoughts
The idea of yet another farming sim might seem unnecessary when there are plenty of great games already in this genre, but Wylde Flowers does plenty to make this appealing, apart from its availability and exclusivity on Apple Arcade. There is a lot of depth and character in this game, apart from the very interesting sub-plot of discovering your own magical abilities, alongside learning how to run the farm.
Wylde Flowers is well worth the install on Apple Arcade for this reason, and you could expect to invest around 60 hours of play time to complete the entire story. It's also appealing in the sense that you can play it one (in-game) day at a time, which is about 10–15 minutes of real-world play time, and you won't find yourself too lost or confused when you pick it up again. I highly recommend this game if you're an Apple Arcade subscriber.
- Simple controls, detailed game mechanics
- Interesting story, diverse range of characters
- Sensitively explores various real-world topics and concepts
- Walking around the island takes a lot of time
Rating (out of 10): 9/10
Gadgets 360 played Wylde Flowers on an Apple iPad mini (2019). Wylde Flowers is available with the Apple Arcade subscription on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS that costs Rs. 99 per month.
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