Village Monsters – I Love This Spooky Town Sim – Review

Village Monsters is a solo dev project from Josh Bosser. It’s a pixel art town sim that departs from conventional titles with an alternative community of friendly monsters. The game plays on similar genre themes as Stardew Valley but the content goes into the outsider/quirk genre of games with its monster acceptance communicated in each character’s unconventional friendliness. It departs from too much comparison by offering a vast amount of exclusive unique story concepts in each characters’ backstory and dialogue. Players can also enjoy activities like treasure hunting, fishing, exploring, working, and contributing to the town itself. Village Monsters is pleasantly surprising and the subject of this indie game collective showcase/review post. So, let’s see what’s inside!

Platforms: More than you’d expect, including PC, Switch, Mac, Xbox, and PlayStation. Wow!

The Progressive Charm of Village Monsters

There is a lot of thought packed into the charming presentation of Village Monsters. There is no leaf unturned when it comes to the purpose of the world’s layout, although I had approached the whole thing sort of skeptically at first due to the promised scope of the game. It really is all here though, and the threads of its connectedness are not unraveled into inconsistency. Instead, the game offers a solid experience is offered. The result of exploring Village Monsters is interesting and rewarding.

The premise of the game starts with a casual plotline involving being the first human to visit the village of monsters in ages. As this is fairly disruptive to some villagers, your character awaits trial by a court at the day’s end to determine what will happen. This introductory period is enough time to explore the main spots in town and see who is who and even make a few friends. That’s helpful since this is basically the main premise of the game.

I really enjoy the variety of characters and hobbies in Village Monsters. It’s not by any means a horror concept; actually, it is very definitely a cozy title, and not to a fault. I’ve had a generous interest in monsters for years. One thing I love about the topic is how neatly they wrap a metaphor into a character by merging appearance with its archetypes. Friendly monsters become the foreign mutant/alien counterpart that exists to fill the remaining areas of monster lore. In Village Monsters, this form of expression is the purpose of its story. It is also an interesting dip into what I consider the outsider art area of the indie game community.

Screenshots of Village Monsters

Features of Village Monsters

The game is availably by purchase, but no fret because there are tons of features that allow for some vast replayability and quality value.

  • A diverse world filled with friendly monsters.
  • Hobbies like treasure-hunting, fishing, gardening, and collecting/training creatures.
  • Make friends and learn a well-written backstory
  • Check out other areas of the world with different climates
  • An immersive environment with seasons, weather, and corresponding events
  • Cozy pixel-art that engages monster themes in a fairly pleasant way
  • Get your own place by refurbishing a fixer-upper
  • Find yourself bobbing your head to a pleasant soundtrack
  • A storyline quest involving collecting “glitches” and fixing the game (intentionally)
  • Discover secrets and explore!

Additional Thoughts

My exploration of Village Monsters fills a void for me in the town sim genre. While cozy games are nice, I like a little more creative diversity sometimes. There’s a massive chasm to the games out there that bounce between ultimate comfort and its awkward weird counterparts. There’s plenty of room for all, but I often just want to skip the social hyperbole and just escape into a neat game. That’s what’s here, and it gets a near full pie of recommendation for me. There are a couple of features that I couldn’t figure out the intentionality of, but I suspect this is explored further into the Village Monsters’ gameplay.

So, I guess another IGC game has managed to captivate me by helping me try a game on the leading edge of artistic indie games for you. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual but comfortable to play, there’s a whole world to explore here with lots of story-rich characters. Make sure to check out the game’s listings on a whopping profile of consoles and PC/Mac.

And as usual, thank you for reading Mr. Dave Pizza, be sure to explore the many reviews and articles on this site.

For information on the Indie Game Collective, go here.

To purchase Village Monsters on Steam or find more information, go to :

https://store.steampowered.com/app/679830/Village_Monsters?curator_clanid=40853436&utm_source=IndieGameCollective

Pupperazzi – A Simple but Entertaining Concept

Dogs dashing, catching, posing, and dogs riding scooters to surfboards throughout the whole game. Pupperazzi is a comedy game with a pretty clean content concept. In all honesty, I initially wasn’t too interested in the game, until I saw it was on Xbox Gamepass where I tried it for free. To my surprise, I found this game very funny, and it had enough achievement-based gameplay that it was actually quite fun. I know games like this aren’t for everybody, but I thought it was a good romp that didn’t require too much brainpower. So, here we go with my complete thoughts on Pupperazzi.

You know, this game only takes around 2 hours to complete the main story, but I’ll just preface this with the overall purpose of the game: it’s good for your heart and good for your spirit. Oh, and before I go on, I suppose I’d better tell you what it is. Pupperazzi is a dog photography game. That’s the most comprehensive description. It’s uber cute, and def family-friendly, so let me just unleash a flood of heart bubbles next. Here we go, with Pupperazzi.

The Woof, What, When and Where of Pupperazzi

I’ve talked about dogs on here before. Particularly in my review of Doggone Hungry. Plenty of friends before me have played Pupperazzi already too. I was looking up completion times for some wholesome titles recently, and Pupperazzi clocked in around 2 hours, which is about the perfect time for me. If you’re already interested, you could just go play it and most likely finish it in a day, although the actual completion time may vary. I can see some players zooming around weird dog landscapes for days snappin’ photos of all the crazy stuff dogs can do. But I see no harm in that.

Things start off pretty straightforward. You chat with a friendly sea captain dog who shows you the ropes with a scattered “thank ye” here and there. You’ll learn how to frame, zoom, capture, crouch, center, and one of the best mechanics: “dogNET.”

“dogNet” and More


The website dogNET is a place where you can share your dog photos online and earn followers. Followers unlock quests and rewards. There are also a plethora of objectives to complete like “photograph a dog surfing,” or what have you. It adds a compelling reason to keep taking photos and naturally leads to you learning how to have fun with catching special dog moments in the game. (It’s also not bad at some basic photography skill-training for real life in my opinion, as someone who is a casual hobbyist photographer.)

Each DogNet post gets responded to with messages from the community from a few categories of response types, mostly full of praise or tips. Even though it isn’t, and that’s important, it feels real and immersive in a weird but fun way.

The longer you play, the more things unlock and you get some really fun objectives. In addition, there are also many new features unlocked with your progress such as new film type, lenses, the ability to dress up the dogs, new levels of course, and yeah, you can pet the dogs too which is pretty sweet.

Golly That’s Wholesome

The game definitely has a vast demographic, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t matter who you are–unless you’re afraid of dogs I guess, which happens (no judgment)–the game has something for just about anybody interested. The game is really easy on the eyes most of all, and if you need to change the tones of this dog world a bit, there are a selection of alternative filters which will turn the world into a range of different palettes, like the pastel barista theme or super colorful solarized filter.

There is no combat, no feelings hurting, rudeness, or snootiness. The cats are well, cats, the humans are… you’ll just have to see (they’re basically robots, but it’s funny,) plus your character is literally a camera with legs. So, it’s safe to say there’s a lot more focus on cute dogs than anything else. By the way, there are various toys around the levels that you can pick up and throw fetch with or other similar activities. I was fond of the remote control racecar; the dogs got really excited about that and it was fun to watch.

Also, did I mention this? Don’t get too caught up on realism in Pupperazzi because the humor is silly and the dogs seem to have a lot more hobbies than you’d expect.

Here’s a List of Features of Pupperazzi

  • Dogs. Dogs everywhere.
  • Take photos of just about anything.
  • Post any photo on dogNET and gain followers.
  • Cool levels with different things to explore.
  • Pet the dogs to make them happy.
  • Objectives and achievements unlock more content.
  • Earn bones to purchase new camera gear at the shop.
  • Save your favorite photos in your own album.
  • Add photo samples automatically to Puppypedia.
  • Cute graphics and an original soundtrack.
  • Doggos (of course.)

Keep On Wagging

Anyway, that’s it pretty much. This game is fun and easy to play. I was really surprised at how much I liked it, to be totally truthful. It’s been years since my family had our own dog, but the virtual petting and silly fun that dogs are known for was almost like the real thing.

Pupperazzi is really well thought out and no “bone” goes unturned in the experience. I think you’ll find some joy in playing it if you find the concept interesting. It’d be great for Twitch, parties, or whatever you like. Or just to play on your own. If you do happen to take an interest in it, it’s currently available on Xbox PC GamePass. And I’ll provide ItchIO and Steam links below as well.

Thanks for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I’m currently working through the best wholesome indies on Game Pass. I’ll keep doing that as much as I can, but I cover all sorts of things from visual novels to major indie releases. So, stop back, have a look around, and please enjoy all the content here!

Moonglow Bay – A Colorful Blocky Fishing Town

I’m a big fan of fishing in games, but even more so a good story involving it. Moonglow Bay has done it. It’s a story about a retired fisher getting back out there. It is also about settling a community’s superstitions and getting back to the foundation of their livelihood. The story takes place in a traditional Eastern Canadian seaboard fishing village in the 80s. It is otherwise perfectly afloat in its conventional timeless qualities. I related to this game on a personal level, but it floats my boat on multiple. Let’s see.

The gameplay runs about 22 hours for the main story, and there are many quests and achievements to unlock. The main mechanic of the game is fishing of course. But cooking and exploration compete for the next rung in its structure. It is currently available on Xbox PC Gamepass in addition to traditional sources. So, if you’re just wanting to check it out and not necessarily commit to the whole story, that’s one way.

Anyway, there is a checklist of things to talk about with Moonglow Bay, so let’s get started.

Moonglow Bay is Engaging, Stylish, and Personal

So, just a personal note. My ancestry is very Canadian. That alone is rather broad and inconsequential, but there’s more to it. Before the pandemic, I spent two summers in Nova Scotia and the surrounding Maritimes. Many of my relatives were from areas like the fictional Moonglow Bay. Even today, being there is like being transported to a hidden world, although it’s been accessible for some time. You don’t see many schooners and fishing villages where I live now, but life there is captured flatteringly by the fishing sim I am writing about.

For one, people really do stick together in these communities. And it was exciting for me to experience it in the game. Whether or not that occurs for you is okay, because there are tons of things to love here. For instance, just look at this fun voxel design scheme.

Gameplay Mechanics

Beyond sentimentality, here are the facts. Moonglow Bay is a 3D voxel-style, third-person, fishing-sim/RPG. Voxels are those things that look like a combination of pixel art and LEGOs. You can find them in a lot of games these days such as Cloudpunk.

Fishing and cooking are fully interactive. Although there are tutorials for basic mechanics, most things are learned through exploration and discovery. Honestly, the fishing is really compelling in Moonglow Bay. It only takes a few tugs on every bob before it sinks and you reel in your catch using a combination of reeling in the spool and yanking into a specific direction. I really enjoy the controller support for PC, and if you have one or find it on console check it out because it is so much fun to fish using one.

The fish vary from your average pollock to more exotic catches once you get your boat and set out to sea. So, once you catch the fish, then what? Well, it depends on what you’re going for. If it’s money (which is wittily denominated in shells,) then cooking and selling is the best tactic. The kitchen in your home has a fridge, chopping board, sink, and oven that you can use to prepare various recipes. I really enjoy the interactive quality of cooking, because it is fairly simple to figure out but based on skill. On a controller, it’s all about timing a button or analog stick in time with a timed range of the step in the cooking process.

Once you successfully cook something, you can sell it from home for shells that will propagate throughout the day. Use shells to buy more equipment, which catches you more fish, which you can use to cook or complete quests, help the town–both, or all three.

Features in Moonglow Bay

  • Interactive fishing simulation with tons of things to catch
  • Cook meals and sell them in your own home
  • Talk to and help unique characters in your community
  • Captain your own ship out to sea and catch even more exotic creatures
  • Events and objectives to get Moonglow Bay back to its former glory
  • Voxel graphics with colorful, and highly stylized design
  • A compelling story with over 20 hours of game time
  • Explore and enjoy a vast Maritime world

A Word on The Patch Improvements For Moonglow Bay

Microsoft did a really great thing by putting this on GamePass, since its original launch had a few issues for some people. There were reports of people getting stuck and having issues with keyboard/mouse. It has since been patched, and in my opinion has very few issues, although it is on the shoulders of the players to explore and learn to complete tasks, as it has always been. After the learning curve, everything is pretty much smooth sailing in my opinion.

For the record, I have only played this with an Xbox One controller on PC, so I can’t testify to anything regarding the keyboard/mouse issues. The only part of the game that I didn’t use the controller for was choosing my character’s name. Otherwise, I think it deserves to be classified with full-controller support because it pretty much has it. (And if you’re concerned about bugs, just make sure to save one or two copies of your game frequently.)

And that’s all that needs to be said about that.

Final Thoughts

I am so glad I was able to try this game. It’s been on my radar for the past year, and the Game Pass is an affordable way to try it out. I love being able to get into the games and just… write. Or record, stream, whatever your approach is too. Overall, it is a superb fishing game. I’ve been playing fishing games on the computer since I was a kid, but it didn’t stop when I was heavily into other RPGs, because it has always been the most novel side-quest of those games! I’m not so much into actual fishing now, but I have a respect for the real and simulated varieties. It’s my blood, I guess.

Thanks for much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. This article was a lot of fun, and I’ve definitely got more on the way. If you’re interested in acquiring this game, I’ll post the Steam link below, but it’s all around, and even on Switch, so investigate it. Play it. Go catch some fish!

Donut County – It’s Fun to Make Junk Fall In Holes

Forgive, me, because we’re about to “dive into” some game material from the past. All the way back to the year 2018. Which isn’t really that long ago, making the sentiment of that sentence nearly arbitrary actually. Donut County is on its fourth year after release, and I’ve been meaning to play it for about half of that time. Why did I wait so long? I have no idea, but anything that was offsetting about it has vanished from any of my pre-conceptions. Donut County is a hilarious, strategy-based game from Annapurna Interactive, a publisher of some really good indie games.

It’s simple. You live in a city ruled by raccoons. As a plotline, the raccoon king has enabled his followers, including the main character named BK, the ability to create portable holes on any patch of ground–to capture anything sitting around to supplement trash scarcity. Each level provides a puzzle and a contribution to the plot. Today I played through the whole game and enjoyed what’s possibly one of the most clever indie ideas out there.

So with this new experience, this new knowledge, it’s time to look beneath the surface of one of my new all-time faves, Donut County.

Platforms: “PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems” according to Google.

What the Heck is Donut County?

So, everything in Donut County progresses like a flashback. After a brief intro and the first level, you find yourself trapped in a cavern beneath the surface with characters from all across your neighborhood. It seems that BK had taken it upon himself to destroy everyone’s houses and consume them along with it. Although BK ends up redeeming himself, he’s pretty much guilty of utter impulsive carelessness and is eventually tasked to right the wrongs he’s committed. Overall though, he’s not as bad as you’d think, and I enjoyed his character.

The way the game works involves moving a hole around the level and collecting more and more low-poly three-dimensional items. (Think of the old black circle gags bugs bunny would slap on a surface to jump into. Same idea here.) Each time you capture an object the hole grows and you can move onto a bigger object. Eventually, the hole grows so big that you are able to collect buildings, boulders, and mountains (more-or-less.) If you’re having trouble picturing this, I recommend watching the video below.

While you’re working on this objective, the game goes back to the neighbors in the cave between levels. Each character shares their part of the story with everyone so that they can try to piece things together to escape. BK is incredulous about all of this blame but is eventually revealed as the culprit. This back and forth banter is actually quite amusing and encourages the enjoyment the silliness of the characters in the game. No soggy britches in this game, despite the seriousness of the plot. Everybody is pretty calm actually, except for BK’s best friend, the human girl Mira.

Some Thoughts on Coziness in Donut County

I love the low-poly, colorful, cozy art. This game might very well be considered a cozy title actually. Combat is very limited to a silly–but not unchallenging–boss fight at the end with the very “stinky” Trash King, however, it’s based on a cartoonish premise. There’s no real hard reality that Donut County is based on. This is pretty obvious when a fly-by of the city shows “Raccoon” in big Hollywood Letters on the mountainside. I really didn’t want to deal with anything too serious when I played it, so I really enjoyed it. It also means there’s nothing to get nervous about here, no existential metaphors or anything (although you could probably find some on materialism if you wanted to). Personally, I think Donut County is best enjoyed by taking your time and enjoying the puzzles. There is tons of strategy involved though, especially toward the end. If you get stuck, you can always restart the level.

As a writer, I spent a lot of time admiring the dialogue in this game. It takes some gumption to write something funny in a totally new type of context and then cast it into the critique of the gaming community. The conversation in Donut County are rock solid though, and if you don’t at least smirk, your heart is cold and empty. No offense.

Features of Donut County

  • A unique mechanic involving… holes.
  • Delightful color scheme and kick-butt art style.
  • Hilarious dialogue.
  • Compelling storyline with a great ending.
  • Cast of cute, mostly-animal, characters, and a human too, Mira.
  • Puzzles that encourage creativity and satisfying gameplay.
  • 6-Years of focused game development before release.
  • Index of all the objects collected with picture, name, and hilarious descriptions.
  • At least 2 hours of rewarding playtime, depending on your strategy.
  • Donuts.

How This Game Makes Me Feel

There’s something to be said for pre-2020 games. Yeah, the ironic narrative of the last decade’s light-hearted peril is still gasping for air in this culture. But c’mon: donuts, animals, campy dialogue, and ragdoll physics making pastel stuff fly all over the place. This is my motivation for playing games.

So, in conclusion, if you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted, indie game, check out Donut County. If you need to, it’s currently found on PC Game Pass and virtually every platform on the market. I always try to remind myself that there’s not really an actual “indie” category of game theme, but there are quirky, funny, and overall good games. See how far the rabbit hole goes. You deserve some donuts. There’s plenty in this one.

Thanks!

Thank you once again for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. Dang, this was a fun one. Every once in a while I throw a forecast out there for how many reviews I’m doing each week, and the answer here is around 3 a week right now. Whether or not I can follow through is debatable, but I’m super motivated for this kind of thing right now. So, stay tuned, stop back, read some more, leave a comment, just have fun and enjoy the game. There are many.

Fayburrow – Cozy 3D Mystery Visual Novel – Free on Steam

Today, I plunged headfirst into the free games pile of new releases over on the Steam store. On my arrival, I discovered a cozy little visual novel among the listings called Fayburrow, and I decided to take a look at it. Fayburrow is a free game created by the self-named “Fayburrow Troupe” at VIA University College in Denmark. It just hit the Steam store today. What was first intrigued, turned into a fascination with the conjunction of such delightful graphics with a genre I have not covered in far too long! So, after downloading, I fired it up and took it for a spin at the courtesy of the game’s student makers and you dear reader. Let’s take a look at Fayburrow.

Platforms: PC (Steam)

Getting Started with Fayburrow

With a gorgeous intro on a fantastic Victoriana-style train, the story starts with a letter from Agnes, a childhood friend, presumably at an academy. The world is a mix between steampunk and a fun fantasy-themed style within a substantially, open world. Upon arrival, you, a red-haired Anne of Green Gables type character named Beatrice, and your companion fairy Lu, wander through a small village with Stan, a young jack of all trades, to be led into a very pomp academy/mansion of sorts.

The academy seems to be where Beatrice has spent her youth learning under the wing of a warm cast of faculty, information of which is revealed through player exploration. Agnes hasn’t been seen in days, the suspiciousness of which is unclear.

You collect clues around the academy in the village by interacting with characters, investigating items strewn in suiting places, and maintaining a detailed journal which is pretty much always accessible. Piece clues together to discover the nature of Agnes’s disappearance.

Additionally, the presence of fairy/fay companions in Fayburrow is the norm rather than the exception.

First Impressions

Incidentally, my crew over at IGCollective had a field day with the game called Grow not too long ago. I was not able to get in on that one personally, however, the graphics of Fayburrow remind me of what I saw of Grow combined with the delights of one of my favorite games Fable–in other words: cozy, pastel, and folky.

This is a nice cozy game with some real muscle to the dev process shown, and frankly, with some tweaks, it’s ready for market probably. And I really want to emphasize the Fable thing. While the narrative is super low key, this is one of my favorite aspects of playing student games. Every time I see something grand from such projects I feel snug as a bug in trying them out because there’s a certain charm to playing something ambitious and homegrown like other student games I’ve tried.

Features of Fayburrow

  • Open world exploration and unique environments
  • Thoughtful dialogue with light-hearted charm
  • Multiple-choice responses
  • Several unique characters
  • Gorgeous 3D rendered graphics
  • Visual novel narrative with interactive elements
  • Sound effects and soothing soundtrack
  • Free on Steam
  • Fairy companion to assist in your investigating

Final Thoughts of Fayburrow

It’s perfectly suitable for those cozy lovers out there. It was a treat to see such beautiful graphics on a visual novel that was provided for free. I played into about 20 minutes of the game, but the trailer assures much more exploration beyond this. Way to go Fayburrow Troupe for putting this together, and welcome to the game dev world. Occasionally games like this end up going even further on the market, such as it did when I reviewed Beasts of Maravilla Island. This game is just what I need though, and I encourage you to check it out, Check it out and share with friends, I think this one is a lot of fun

Thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. Be sure to take a look around the site and please come back!

Lo-Fi Room – One of the First Indie Games I Played

I had the privilege of playing an itch.IO demo today called Lo-Fi Room. It is a member of the rhythm genre. It’s taken on a new kind of life within the indie game scene though. You can search game databases for games that have tags like “rhythm” or simply music. There are incarnations of this genre for Android and iOS devices as well. Developers have really gone hog wild with the possibilities.

The genre that games like–well not “like,” more like specifically–Guitar Hero started became renowned for living room jam sessions amongst a vast network of roommates. That’s kind of more specific to my own acquaintance with it, but I feel there is probably some truth to it.

You could strum out to a waterfall of string notes to play Tear for Fears or Freebird till your heart was content, or at least until it was the next person’s turn. There was even a sequel called Rock Band, which you could use with drum pads for a microphone. I’m probably not telling you anything new, but why not.

The game style, I think, has its origin in adapting the classic Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) games where you jumped around a hopscotch-like platform to hit notes with your foot steps, I’d say the origin is probably heavily Japanese. All of this still exists, but when I think about it, I haven’t seen these games on Nintendo’s newest Switch platform when I think about it, hmm.

In a Cozy Lo-Fi Room

The game opens to the bedroom vanity with options of playing in story mode or straight to the music. You explore a hidden object scene for each level in this same room. Around the scene are scattered musical instruments, which you must find to play a portion of a larger composition that moves the story along. Despite the straightforward scene images, they can take a few moments to locate.

lo-fi room cat

Lo-Fi Room is not in any way indignant about pace or topic heaviness. It’s a chill game with some cool art. The only issue I had was the standard learning curve for these games.

I’m eager to tag the stylizing as distinctly reminiscent of an indie comic book. I can’t quite place any comparisons. It’s a cozy room though, with books, instruments, trinkets, plants, cats, and color-splashed comfortably around a small bedroom. There’s a girl at the focus sleeping and then reading.

lo-fi room

More to come…

I love many things about this. I don’t really know what the story is going to be, but look at that, a cozy beanbag chair, a kitty on the floor, a cup of coffee, comic books, books, and some sweet art on the wall. The girl reading the book looks really comfortable. I wonder if this is based on the creator’s own current habitat.

When everything is put together, the final song compilation is pretty good. A lot of people were commenting on the Itch.IO page that they liked the music and I happen to agree. And as far as aesthetics go, this is pretty successful at being a lo-fi indie concept from the artwork to the music to the gameplay. I dig.

The current incarnation of this game has 3 levels with a hopeful promise of more coming soon. It should only take around 15 minutes to get through. I enjoyed it though. And the final song is pretty good. So, check out Lo-FI Room by Bearmask here: https://bearmask.itch.io/lofi-room.

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