With an endearing world packed full of adorable creatures, it's hard not to fall for Ooblets at first glance. With clear influences from games such as Animal Crossing and Pokémon, the title strives to capture the magic of Nintendo's biggest handheld franchises on console and PC. However, unlike the aforementioned releases, Ooblets stands out among the current titles on Microsoft's console.
I wasn't familiar with Ooblets until just a couple weeks ago, following the announcement of Double Fine's involvement with the project. Also announced in the process was the game's Xbox One and Windows 10 releases, with the added bonus of Play Anywhere support between the two platforms. Between an alluring premise and feature set, Ooblets currently stands out against the remainder of the ID@Xbox library.
Although the team behind Ooblets only consists of two (yes, two!) developers, the game has been in the works for some time, and it still likely has a while before it's completed. Only having just rolled out its first teaser trailer and launch set for next year, we won't see Ooblets on our consoles anytime soon. However, as a part of Microsoft's ID@Xbox showcase at GDC 2017, we managed to get hands-on with an in-progress version of the game, giving us a taste of what the final version may entail.
The Nintendo effect
Ooblets core gameplay is a culmination of numerous highly-regarded franchises.
Ooblets core gameplay is a culmination of numerous highly-regarded franchises, most notably inheriting mechanics from some of Nintendo's biggest successes in the handheld space. After being thrown into a world full of creatures known Ooblets, players explore the land of Oob and build their very own team of lovable friends.
After moving into a new village with little to your name, you can expect to find yourself farming, exploring and battling through other trainers over the course of the game. Paired with an appealing art style and a cute cast of characters, Ooblets provides unrivaled charm.
In traditional Animal Crossing fashion, our demo opened with the player dropped off at the village train station. With a single friend already living in the area, the main protagonist is given an introduction to the city, kickstarting their adventure in the new world.
After joining a club and receiving your first Ooblet, this gives you the chance to work your way through the wilderness towards your new home. These connecting routes between villages are laced with hostile Ooblets and trainers looking to battle while providing a great opportunity to find new creatures for your lineup.
Getting up close and personal
Ooblets is shaping up to be a welcome addition to the ID@Xbox lineup in 2018.
Combat is currently one of the core pillars of the game, being the sole purpose for Ooblets at this point in time. Structured in a turn-based setup with a range of moves per Ooblet, the game's influence from existing titles is immediately clear.
Each Ooblet comes with its own moves, which assumedly change alongside the level of the creature. These offer a numerical value, with single back-and-forth combat used to deplete enemy health. Non-offensive moves are also available for some Ooblets, with abilities like healing seen during our hands-on session. While more powerful abilities are also offered via some move sets, their attached cooldowns prevent use for a certain number of turns. This makes for a combat style familiar to those who grew up playing Nintendo's biggest franchises, with simplistic mechanics comparable to the Pokémon series.
Farming also looks to be a key aspect of gameplay, being an easy way to obtain both new items and Ooblets. After collecting or purchasing seeds throughout your journeys, these can be planted back at your house, in return for various rewards.
Ultimately, Ooblets is shaping up to be a welcome addition to the ID@Xbox lineup in 2018, delivering an already proven concept on console and PC. Following the success of similar games such as Stardew Valley on these platforms, it's clear there's demand for such a title. Provided the game's two-man team is able to deliver the content and depth expected by today's average gamer, Ooblets has the potential to be a huge hit on Xbox One.