Platforms: Switch, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 23/09/2021
£19.99 £14.99/ $24.99 $17.99
On sale until 29/09/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
What do you get when you mix a farming sim with Minecraft? Something like Staxel. But is it worth your time playing it? Let’s find out.
In terms of story there is not really one, Staxel what’s the player to go out and discover what this world offers.
What has Staxel got to offer? There is farming, crafting, building and some side missions to do.
If you have ever played a farming sim like Story of Seasons, then the farming here will be all too familiar. You can till the soil, plant some seeds, water them daily, wait for them to grow and then sell them for the big money (or little money). Then you do this over and over and over. Yes, on paper, this sounds laborious, but there is something rather relaxing and soothing about farming games.
Staxel has gone for a rather shallow experience on the farming front as it is pretty much that. Plant different seeds, sell the crops and so on. You will have some animals to tend to, but again, it is nothing deep. Feed them, pet them, collect their bounty, be that milk, eggs, etc.
There is no stamina bar, so you can plod on doing whatever you like all day and just be in bed before it’s too late. This takes away the puzzle element or proper management needed to think about. Yes, it makes the game easier to play and more relaxing. I like this. It’s nice to just do what you like and not need to worry about collapsing half way through a day. I know many people will be put off by that, however.
The NPCs of the local town gave the side missions. Talking to the bar owner will open up a new mission per day. The missions range from collecting to making items. Most will only take a handful of minutes to complete, then out of nowhere, they will hand you a mission that you do not know how to complete. Luckily, the NPCs are not bothered when a mission is done, so there is no rush to finish anything. It is good to do them, as you can get free seeds, money, items and so on.
Crafting and Building
These two sections go together, as you can do one without the other, and they both suffer some big drawbacks.
Crafting and building are two of my favourite things to do in video games as long as they are engaging and give plenty of freedom to create. Staxel in my opinion is more of a crafting and building game than it is a farming sim. As Minecraft is a bit of an influence on art style and mechanics, this I found is where the game came alive.
Like in Minecraft building, changing topography and destroying the landscape is allowed almost anywhere. You are free to do what you like. At the start of the game, it allocated you a run-down house and farm. Don’t like the look or location? Destroy it all and move elsewhere. A hill getting in your way? Get rid of it with a trusty pickaxe swing or two. There is so much freedom in the world and no one really seems to mind that you do it too.
Staxel has a bit of an issue with building, this being the way placing blocks work. I found that placing the blocks is fiddly and annoying to boot. As you are placing a row of blocks, one small move on either side of where you want to place them will almost always result in the block placed next to where it should go. Also, placing larger items has a similar problem. They sometimes do not go where you think they are going.
It feels as if Staxel was made for PC only and that the transition to console has not gone well.
Crafting is something I love and hate about Staxel. There are plenty of items to create and items to make from recipes. It requires the right items placed on the right bench to create an item. This is not a problem.. Usually.
Crafting requires items to be placed individually on the bench before you can make the item. I did not mind this, however; it is really hard to see what item you are picking to place.
Then we get to the menus. These things are a nightmare to navigate problem with the selecting an item. It is hard to see what I have highlighted. Add on top of that the somewhat temperamental selecter that has a mind of its own at times. This part of the game becomes a chore.
Overall, Staxel has a lot of potential to be something different in the farming sim sub genera of gaming. There are a few cowpats to navigate to make for a more streamlined experience on the console. But with time, love and attention, Staxel can be something influential.
In its current state, Staxel is a fairly decent if not slightly flawed experience. If it is on sale, then I say, why not. But if you are looking for an in depth farming adventure, then this may not be for you.