Echoes of the Plum Grove

Review

Get your overalls and farming tools, a new adventure awaits - Unwound Games have just released their latest game. Echoes of the Plum Grove is a cozy farming/life simulator with charming characters and a distinctive style.

The big day has arrived. You and your friend are about to undertake the journey of a lifetime. After all this time, you are finally about to see the new world. All that is separating you from your destiny is an ocean. At last the big day has arrived, and you finally embark the ship that will take you to your new home. The ocean is treacherous in these parts. There is a storm ahead, and tragedy awaits the settlers. You wake up in a lighthouse, confused and shaken. The news is grim, you are the only known survivor to have washed ashore. You have no idea what happened to your friend or any of the other settlers. Thankfully the Honeywood community is a friendly one, and they welcome you with open arms. Your new land is waiting and there is work to be done - after all, the farm won’t fix itself!

In Echoes of the Plum Grove you play as a settler. Honeywood is a small village and you’ve bought a farm there. After welcoming you, the mayor helps you sign the deed. Now that the official business is taken care of, it’s time to get to work. It starts like any other farming simulator. You have to fix your farm because let’s be honest, it’s in a pretty bad state of disrepair. That’s where Echoes of the Plum Grove takes an unusual turn. There are several unique aspects that are not usually found in farming sims. As an example, you have to pay weekly taxes. Otherwise your land will be seized and it is game over. You have many options when it comes to earning money. You can grow crops and sell them. Additionally you can fish, cook, craft, trade and forage.



This game also includes survival elements. There are multiples ways to die; you have to prepare for winter if you want to survive the cold, and you can die of starvation and diseases as well. A major characteristic of the game is the lineage. You follow a whole generation of protagonists. Your succession must be insured before your character dies. After your death, you choose one of your children to play as. If you don’t have any, it is an automatic game over so you will need children, whether through childbirth or adoption.

The game’s aesthetics are adorable. It is definitely Paper Mario inspired with its paper thin characters and colourful backgrounds. Despite the similarities, Echoes of the Plum Grove has a delightful and unique style of its own.

There are many different options allowing you to customize your game.  For example, you can choose a 12 or 24 hour clock, timed or untimed fishing games, and even the rate at which your character ages.  Taxes, hunger, energy, diseases, tool’s durability, item’s decay are all features that can be turned on or off. The game can be either challenging or very relaxing and anything in between. It’s really up to you and how you customize it. I played it as it was meant to be and had a great time, but could see myself doing a second playthrough to see what it would be like to toggle off the taxes, diseases, etc. 

The game uses WASD movement and has keybinds for different actions. One feature I found excellent is the fast travel. The developers have figured out a way to cut the waiting time while travelling, but still keeping it realistic. To fast travel you have to go to the map screen and click on any of the signposts. You will be transported there instantly, but you will still lose the in-game time it would have taken you to travel there. This is a great design choice because it cuts through the tedium of travelling the map but the game stays lifelike.

It seems to me that the creators have tried to make the game as true to life as they could. Even the food in your inventory will rot after a certain amount of time. Certain foods will rot faster than others, however the better the quality of your food the longer it will last.  NPCs don’t have story arcs to themselves, but I feel like there’s a huge amount of variety in their dialogues. This makes them feel more like characters in their own right rather than NPCs. They each have their own individual traits, likes and dislikes and their own personality. In addition when you click on an NPC, you have the choice between talking, trading, gifting or insulting. You can befriend or make enemies with these NPCs.

Another great aspect that I often find lacking in these types of games is a great tutorial. Echoes of the Plum Grove has an in-depth tutorial and you can always get back to it if you forget something because it is a written tutorial.

The dedication of the developers to their game is obvious. Every detail has been well thought out with the player’s enjoyment in mind. The way you acquire items is also different from other games. Instead of buying items outright from the shop, you click on the shop owner and either trade them for coins or for items in your inventory. Not all items in your inventory will be available to trade with everyone. Each shop owner has specific items that they will accept as trade. You will need your coins to pay the taxes. Eventually you will also need lots of money for upgrades to your house and buildings to keep the animals you will obtain.

This game has everything I would want in a farming sim and more. The survival aspect might not be for everyone and that’s where the customization comes in. The game can be challenging or cozy and chill. With so many options to choose from, the game has high replayability. There are so many ways you can die in this game and without this feature the game could otherwise feel too short. Playing through the family tree is an ingenious way to solve this issue. I had such a wonderful time playing Echoes of the Plum Grove and will definitely revisit Honeywood in the future. I’m hooked and I bet you will be too.

Review written by VEE for Zeepond.com

Echoes of the Plum Grove Steam Store Page 


Positives

+ Fun adorable aesthetics
+ Unique family tree feature
+ Fully customizable
+ NPC have a lot of depth
+ A great attention to details

Negatives

- Not everyone will enjoy the survival aspect
- Loading screen is long

Review Summary

Echoes of the Plum Grove is a unique game with a fun and cozy aesthetic. Any farming sims enthusiasts itching for their next favourite game will have a great time with this one.

Share this review!

Zeepond Rating: 9/10

Video