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Staxel Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fast Facts

Staxel
Developer: Plukit
Publisher: Plukit
Website: https://playstaxel.com/
Genre(s): Role-Playing, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 23/09/2021
Price: £19.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Meeting a Familiar Style

Staxel is a farming simulation title that focuses on both community-building and crafting. It incorporates elements from Minecraft with its art style and block system as well as Animal Crossing with the emphasis on collectables and creating a marketplace for fish and bugs. Does the title provide the getaway I wanted? Find out in this Rapid Review.

The first thing I noticed when initially launching the game was the non-playable characters. Having looked at the trailer, I was surprised to find that these characters played a substantial role. They would give me tasks to complete, slowly helped acclimate me to the abundance of activities to do in the game and made conversation with me if I were bored. I enjoyed meeting the characters and seeing how they would develop the title further. However, once I had talked with the characters a few times, they began to seem lacklustre. They would repeat the same voice lines. Even different characters would say the same things. While this did not entirely invalidate the implementation of the characters, it made my relationships seem impersonal. Regardless, the developers did an excellent job using these characters to incentivize me to complete different tasks and familiarize me with the game’s mechanics.

Oscar looking at me calling me a troublemaker
I have not even done anything yet!

Unfortunately, these characters and the surrounding story did not get me invested in the world. Many of the situations that happened seemed unimportant to me and every task was impersonal and generic. For example, if a villager ever asked for help, they would either request a random item, ask me to deliver something, or want me to search for one of their lost items. These activities were not particularly engaging, and they failed to enthral me in the lore of the title.

Surface Level

There was not much to dig into anyways. Much of the title can be understood on a surface level. This was further expanded by how generic the game is. Despite the emphasis on creating beautiful and eye-catching structures, I caught normal fish and bugs. The fruits are all normal, and so are most of the other crops. I would have liked to see some creative names or designs here or further variety in the creature types to differentiate this title from real life and other simulation titles. The lack of standout and memorable items and creatures made this title less engaging, even before getting into the gameplay. Overall, the theming of Staxel was charming but I never got engaged and there was nothing keeping me coming back apart from the core gameplay loop itself.

Instead, one of the most influential parts of Staxel is the short day and night cycle. It is easy to go through weeks in one session because on each day, there are many things to do. I could find fossils, catch bugs, tend to my animals, check my crops, converse with my villagers, and decide how I want to improve my island. Each day was hectic in the best way possible. I was constantly managing multiple tasks at once. However, this also meant that many things were competing for my attention, and I rarely felt like I had time to breathe or work on everything I wanted to. This made me cut corners in some places on my island, so I rarely had the time or desire to decorate. Still, I thought this cycle gave the game a distinct identity, and I enjoyed it.

Lots of crops on tilled soil
Time to farm!

Finding the Right Activity Base

Even with so little time in the day, there were a lot of things to do in Staxel. Functionally, each task worked fine, but in many of them, I wanted more. For example, catching bugs and fish were quite tedious and neither was a challenge. Bugs idle throughout the map, and never got scared or ran away when I approached. Thus, I was able to catch anything I wanted with ease. Initially, I was disappointed by this, as it was not rewarding to catch a creature. However, it made sense because each day is already frantic. Making bugs more time consuming would make me less likely to go bug-catching. Since I was able to easily catch bugs, I was able to get bonus in-game currency easily by going around and catching bugs while working towards more time-consuming actions that provided even greater rewards.

On the other hand, to catch a fish, I needed to complete a minigame where I held a button down, easing up on it when the game indicated. It worked fine, but it was nothing special, did not reward me for performing a challenging input, and took a lot of time. Coupled with the mediocre number of different fish, collecting the fish ended up being less enjoyable than I would have liked.

zebra fish on the screen, signifying that I have caught a zebra fish. there are palm trees and sandy soil particles in the background
This island is the perfect place to find exotic fish

Another major selling point is crafting. Like other titles, there are no guidelines for crafting, so everything is up to the imagination. However, in this title, there are many previously constructed locales that look better than something I could have made. The quality of the preexisting locales coupled with my lack of time in the day made me less likely to build much at all, as I felt I could not complete with the preexisting structures, and I had more lucrative things to accomplish.

Combination of Resources

Though not every activity was overwhelmingly fun, I had a great time farming. Innately, the farming was simple. I would plant seeds and then I wait for them to grow. I ended up enjoying it in Staxel because the days and nights are so brief that crops bloom easily throughout one session. If I needed a certain type of fruit or vegetable, I could always grow it myself and save a bit of in-game currency because I never needed to wait that long for my crops to grow. There was also a decent bit of variety in the crops, so I always had something interesting growing in my garden.

The most interesting part about these crops is how they could be incorporated into recipes and other items. Many of the items that I was growing or collecting could be turned into food or other collectable items to make my island look even better than it already does. I thought these recipes were interesting, as they could save me in-game currency at the expense of time. Considering how much in-game currency my time is worth was an interesting aspect of the game, and coupled with the variable selling prices of crops, I always needed to consider each of my decisions thoroughly. I enjoyed the implementation of these recipes a lot.

Boiling milk and carrots to make carrot soup
Summer is the best season for soup

Seeing and Hearing

To add to the package, there was a very calming soundtrack that kept me mesmerized in Staxel. It had soft melodies and kept me engaged in my farming without being distracting or annoying. It was catchy as well, and I enjoyed listening to it. The only thing I did not appreciate was that when a music track changed, it changed abruptly, breaking my immersion. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the music.

The sound effects were similarly satisfying. Catching bugs, watering plants, and digging rocks all were satisfying to do because it was fun to hear the items enter my inventory and the respective tools fulfil their duty. All the sounds helped make the game more rewarding and enjoyable.

Moreover, the visuals were stunning. There were bright colours, when an object needed to stand out it did, and there were plenty of ways to customize an area to make it look exactly as I wanted. At times it was difficult to see certain items, especially when they overlapped with others, but it never severely impacted my experience.

fishing meter is rising as I leave my hook in the water
A beautiful world to explore

How it Stax Up

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Staxel. As a simulation game, there is a lot to do. I enjoyed how hectic each day was, and I specifically liked farming. However, at the price point, the lack of interesting and moving characters coupled with the lack of unique creatures in the game left me feeling a bit disappointed. Staxel is a lot of fun and is a solid pickup, it just does not stand out from any of the other titles on the eShop.

Rapid Reviews Rating


3.5 out of 5

3.5

You can purchase Staxel on the Nintendo eShop here

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