EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by William Thompson
previewed on PC
The Good Witch
Witches in history, both in real life and in pop culture have generally been regarded as people with evil entwined in their character. From the witch hunts at Salem through to the fairy tales that have witches trying to fatten young children. In more recent time though, witches have been portrayed in a lighter way, such as Samantha from Bewitched, the girls from Charmed and even Mary Poppins. But arguably, it was the children form Hogwarts, particularly Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, that made wizardry and witchcraft fashionable.
Wylde Flowers has gamers taking on the role of Tara, who after going to visit her grandmother Hazel on her farm learns that Hazel is part of the local coven of witches. It is then that Tara become an apprentice witch and slowly learns the craft and how to put it to good use in the town of Fairhaven.
But before she gets that far, Tara must learn the basics to help Hazel on the farm. As a city girl, Hazel starts by giving he simple tasks such as planting seeds, watering the crops, and collecting the necessities for making food. She also needs to chop wood to keep the fireplace burning, as well as a range of other activities that requires her to get her hands dirty.
Many activities will require Tara to interact with the citizens on the local town Fairhaven. The residents are a varied bunch, each with their own backstory that seems to be uncovered as you progress through the quests that you’re given. Indeed, one of the early quests requires Tara to explore the island and meet a certain number of the residents. And each of the locals has a function that will be of use for Tara. For example, you can trade items with the storekeepers or arrange for them to help with building projects at the farm.
Time is money
The game plays out in 'real time' with a large clock displaying the time of day, and Tara will need to perform as many tasks as possible in the available time. Along with the clock is an energy bar. As the day progresses, and Tara exerts herself, the energy bar will deplete. There are numerous ways in which Tara can gain her energy back including eating some cooked food or resting in her cosy bed in Hazel's cottage.
As well as the clock, Tara also has several other useful items. She has a map of the town and its surroundings, although some of the map is covered with a fog until Tara explores it further. She also has a backpack that she can use to store the items she has collected, been given, or purchased from the local vendors.
The local vendors, and indeed all the residents that Tara meets in Fairhaven, are all fully-voiced and each have their own style. As an eligible bachelorette, Tara will have her fair share of potential suitors amongst the citizens of Fairhaven, and it is to the player to decide which, if any, she wants to be romantically linked to.
In a way the game starts out as a fleshed-out version of Farmville, one that has an intriguing storyline – although we only just get to meet the mysterious coven when the preview ends, indicating that Tara will begin learning some witchcraft during the dark hours. But as we progressed, the game moves into somewhat of an RPG-lite, with a range of quests given to Tara. With the cartoonish visuals and simple controls, Wylde Flowers give the impression that the game is aimed at a younger audience, but the story and the character interaction is far deeper than it first appears. In the reasonably short preview, Wylde Flowers seems like it is going to make witchcraft fun.
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There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.