Sprout Valley is developed by Polish solo developer Vadzim Liakhovich and published by Reddeer.games.
Growing tired of simplicity
The game was kickstarted and surpassed multiple goals. It is set to release on September 8th, 2023 on Nintendo Switch and Steam.
Sprout Valley is a casual farming and crafting game inspired by games like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, and Stardew Valley. Upon opening the game you are greeted with a short introductory cutscene that introduces your main character Nico and his reasoning for starting a new life on the archipelago of Ostara.
You are then thrown into a tutorial detailing how to use your inventory of tools to farm, fish, and mine.
After some brief dialogue, your initial goal in Sprout Valley will ultimately be left up to you. You could farm, fish, travel to procedurally generated islands, or earn some money and focus on making your island look pretty. After getting yourself familiar with the game and passing some days you will then be introduced to what you will spend most of your time doing, building a machine for story reasons with components you find and craft on your island.
The gameplay loop of Sprout Valley had me hooked for the first couple of hours, with dreams of what my island was going to look like after spending a lot of time on the game pushing me along. But after around 5 hours or so passed, I realized I was becoming increasingly bored trying to earn money and get parts for the machine. The game is bogged down by its simplicity and lack of things to do outside of farming.
People like myself who want to see their island grow and shape it into their own will have a hard time with Sprout Valley, especially due to some questionable decisions like not being able to until previously tilled land and instead, having to wait for it to disappear. Or removing bridges which the developer claimed you could remove with a pickaxe in a demo thread, but this was not possible for me. This made me feel like I was unable to make an island that truly felt like my own like I could in other games of this genre.
Building the machine with random components around the island was not engaging or fun for me, with farming and gathering resources being too simple to keep me entertained.
There is an outline of an addicting loop here, but as it stands the gameplay is too simple and lacking to keep most coming back consistently.
I was pleasantly surprised going into Sprout Valley after the ominous ending of the trailer led me to believe the game was going in the direction of a “cutesy game with a dark twist” which for me has been done to death, sometimes you just want a cute game to relax to and I am happy to report, sprout valley is exactly that.
After the introductory quests, however, there isn’t much story here, I am quite happy that this time around there is no dying relative or distant uncle who passes the land down to you. There is only one character on your island you can speak and interact with, who only has a couple of lines which you will see repeated often. The main focus of Sprout Valley is the gameplay.
Overall the story that is here fits the cute theme of the game and is serviceable.
Performance & Glitches
I tested Sprout Valley on both my main gaming pc as well as a cheap laptop, Sprout Valley ran wonderfully on both systems, and through my time playing I had one glitch relating to not being able to select an item using a controller, which was fixed after a reset. Sprout Valley is a very technically polished game.
Graphics & Audio
Sprout Valley sports a simple, but beautiful art style with cozy lighting that amplifies the theme of the game. With adorable character design and sprites. The animations are simple, but get the job done.
Audio in Sprout Valley is relaxing and satisfying, with different music tracks playing depending on the weather type. The main theme for a clear, sunny day was my favourite, though after long stretches of no different weather, only having one track for clear weather did become repetitive.
With some more features and expanding on current ones, Sprout Valley could be a great game that I can see people playing daily for hours on end, but in its current state, there isn’t much to keep the average player engaged.
Sprout Valley is an adorable game with an identity that unfortunately works to its detriment. The simplicity may be a selling point that attracts some, but I imagine even those will end up disappointed with a lack of things to do and build. I can see Sprout Valley building an audience on Nintendo Switch, where people will check in on their island for minutes at a time. The game has an incredibly solid foundation, but the features here need to be expanded on.
For these reasons, I am awarding Sprout Valley the Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.