Now that the frothing, seething hordes of video game fans have calmed down from all the announcements of Summer Games Fest, we can take a look at some of the quieter indie games that didn’t get as much attention as their AAA cousins garnered. There’s one gentle farming sim with an incredible eco-friendly message that made us wish we could bottle it and inject it directly into our veins.

Stairway

Chonky cows? Good stuff.

Coral Island looks like the hippie love child of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. It’s got cave exploring, farm simming, NPC romancing gameplay from Stardew and the chonky, brightly colored world design folks love from Animal Crossing. While it’s just science that we love pixel art, it’s also super satisfying to have friendly 3D looking characters setting up an island home.

Stairway

Bug catching looks pretty familiar…

The freshman game from indie studio Stairway Games has all the ingredients to be a hit with both farming sim folks and island loving aficionados. It takes the emotional impact a step farther than many others in the genre though. Instead of restoring the family farm or just building a bigass house, your goal is to save the coral reef surrounding your island home. Cue the saltwater tears. 

On your journey to literally save the planet, you’ll make friends. And some of those friends? You can totally romance. The character art is decidedly sexy. The dialogue illustrations look like they’re a sequel to Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator. In one trailer they show a mermaid… which child and current me both really, really hope you can date. There’s also farming obviously, and the bread and butter of many sims: building up your home and acquiring cosmetic items. 

Stairway

I'd let Rafael be my dream daddy.

Some of the details look they were ripped straight from Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley. The dungeon delving system where you defeat enemies while unlocking progressively more difficult lower levels of a cave system will look familiar to Stardew players. But hopefully the tropical setting and sim gameplay will have enough newness that Coral Island will stand out all on its own. The game is set to be playable in early access on October 11th.

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