Calm, active farming and sims like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing make this type of game so popular. Maybe it's the idea that anyone can enjoy such a peaceful life, and that games like this give you a sense of escape from reality, even if only for a short time. While some similar farming and life sims are available on iOS and related platforms, Apple Arcade has so far been lacking such games.
Wylde Flowers is a new game that is very similar to popular games of the same genre, but with an interesting and magical twist on the plot. The core aspect of the game puts you in control of Tara Wilder, a former city dweller who returns to an idyllic hamlet called Fairhaven to take over the operations of her grandmother's farm. However, there is a lot more depth to the game, including topics of local politics, relationships, diversity, culture and inclusion, and of course the economics of running a farm.
Wylde Flowers review: Simple controls, complex game mechanics
Game controls are very simple and can be customized to your liking. There are only two key controls here; moving with a virtual joystick, and clicking to interact with the world. Interactions include talking to people, picking up items, and tasks such as watering crops, operating machines, chopping wood, mining metal, and purchasing items in the store. Walking around the island can be a time-consuming affair, but it helps you collect items you see and talk to people you meet along the way.
While the controls are simple, the actual game mechanics are much more complex. You need to keep track of the time, date, weather conditions, your inventory of materials and items, and the funds you have earned and available. There's also an energy bar that can be replenished by going to bed at night (rewarded for going to bed on time) or by eating and drinking. The food you eat is either given to you, bought, or made with ingredients from your own kitchen. Later in the game, the “magic” column also becomes important.
While you can find most of what you need by simply walking around and collecting items, some must be purchased, or you'll have to hire the services of citizens to convert items into usable materials. Likewise, you can sell handmade items for money, or even give them away as a gift of kindness and friendship to some people. You have to keep an eye on the time and date as the store has hours of operation and if you log in after hours you may occasionally find the store closed.
Wylde Flowers explores themes of diversity, culture, religion, xenophobia, and even a little politics
What fascinates me most about Wylde Flowers is its attitude towards the world. A key gameplay element is the plot line where Tara Wylde must take over and run her elderly grandmother Hazel's farm, while discovering she has magical powers along with some of Fairhaven's other residents.
Talk to a variety of residents, including old friends, fellow farmers and the mayor of Fairhaven, and you'll find that residents have a deep respect for Hazel Wylde. However, recent events have raised questions that hint at growing xenophobia and intolerance in the community. The more you talk to people—even for a minute as you pass someone—the more likely you are to discover the town and what's going on.
You also have to make choices as you interact with residents, often between conservative and capitalist values, rather than doing what you think is right. The residents themselves are a diverse group covering all races, religions and sexual orientations. The depth and elements of exploration add more to this game than the basics of farming and making a living in a small, somewhat self-reliant village.
Wylde Flowers Review: Promoting Good Habits
A major theme of Wylde Flowers is leaving city life for the peace and quiet of country life. However, there are plenty of other things that can prudently guide you into developing healthy habits. Vegan foods and herbal concoctions tend to boost your energy more than other kinds, and as on any coastal island, fish is an important part of the diet. Eating in a small restaurant is possible, but naturally more expensive than cooking at home.
Going to bed on time will give you more energy, living off the land is a lucrative business, and building good relationships with your fellow citizens will reward you in unexpected ways. Perhaps the biggest draw for players, however, is that very few things go wrong here; Fairhaven Village is safe, the residents are friendly and helpful, and at worst someone, probably Mayor Otto, will say something that annoys you.
Wylde Flowers Review Verdict, Final Thoughts
The idea of another farming sim doesn't seem necessary when there are already so many great games in the genre, but beyond the availability and exclusivity on Apple Arcade, Wylde Flowers has done a lot to make it appealing. Aside from the really fun subplot of discovering your magical abilities and learning how to run a farm, there's a lot of depth and character to this game.
For this reason, Wylde Flowers is well worth installing on Apple Arcade, and you can expect to put in about 60 hours of gameplay to complete the entire story. It's also attractive in the sense that you can play a day at a time (in-game) which is about 10 to 15 minutes of real gameplay and you don't find yourself too lost or confused when you choose Got up again. I highly recommend this game if you are an Apple Arcade subscriber.
- Simple controls, detailed game mechanics
- Interesting story, diverse characters
- Sensitively explore a variety of real-world topics and concepts
- Traveling around the island takes a lot of time
Rating (out of 10): 9/10
TechnologyShout plays Wylde Flowers on Apple iPad mini (2019). Wylde Flowers is available via Apple Arcade subscription on iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS for Rs. 99 per month.