Review – Little Dragons Café

It’s safe to say that if you’re currently looking for games that look and play like Harvest Moon, buying a brand new Harvest Moon game is possibly the worst option you could have. The franchise has definitely seen better days, with its latest release, Light of Hope, being the absolute worst game in the history of the franchise. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t look like Harvest Moon, but plays just like it, you need to get Stardew Valley. Now, if you want something that looks like Harvest Moon, was created by the same guy who created it, but features a new setting and gameplay elements, you should definitely check Little Dragons Café out.

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I named my dragon Toothless, because of course.

Little Dragons Café is a brand new title created by Yasuhiro Wada, the same creator of the original Harvest Moon game. This time around, instead of taking care of a farm and getting married at the age of 11, you have a new objective. In order to save your mother from a deep eternal slumber, you need to raise a dragon given to you by a magical old man and manage a café. Well, let’s just say that this game isn’t going to win any storytelling awards. Thankfully, most of the rest of the game more than makes up for this laughable plot.

The core gameplay loop of Little Dragons Café is simple. Venture out on an adorable little island in order to collect ingredients and find new recipes, then go back to your café to manage it for the rest of the day. You’ll create new dishes, restock your inventory, partake in some simple cooking minigames, please your customers, and remember to feed your little draconian buddy with any leftovers. After a few dozen dishes, your dragon will even change form and color. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to cook a specific dish for a NPC in order to complete a chapter, but everything is presented to you in such a laid back and risk-free state that it doesn’t feel like a crucial plot point or important segment of the game. There is no way to get a game over. Despite the fact that you’re trying to wake your mother up from some sort of curse, you can do everything at your own pace. Some people will find Little Dragons Café’s lack of stakes absolutely boring. I, on the other hand, actually appreciated its relaxing nature. Sometimes it’s great to play a game like this, especially after playing literally hundreds of more serious games throughout the year.

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You’re a good boy!

The main issue with Little Dragons Café, however, lies in its controls. While the gameplay is simple enough, someone must have forgotten to properly calibrate the sensitivity and responsiveness of the controls. Doing something as mundane as lining yourself in front of a customer in order to take his/her order or even making a turn can be incredibly cumbersome and frustrating due to how stiff your character’s movement is. For example, the little kid does the widest turn ever in order to go back where they came from. While this can be somewhat acceptable when you’re in a big open environment, moving your character inside a building can be way more annoying than it ever should.

Thankfully, there’s something else that makes up for this issue. Little Dragons Café is a visual delight. I can genuinely say that I have never seen a game with the same art style as this one. At first glance, it does look like your run-of-the-mill Harvest Moon game, but after a closer look, you’ll notice everything is textured to look like it was painted with crayons. I’m a sucker for any game that looks like it has been hand drawn. The fact the character design is adorable and the game runs fairly well even on a modest laptop makes things even better. Little Dragons Café’s soundtrack is also pretty good, even though it is very lackluster in terms of sound effects.

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Is this rhetorical?

Little Dragons Café offers absolutely no stakes and its story can be best described as nonsensical, but it excels at being a simple and enjoyable mixture of a slice of life game and a business simulator that just happens to have dragons in it. After playing so many high-octane and adrenaline-fueled games throughout 2018, tackling something as calm and trouble-free as Little Dragons Café near Christmas felt like a relaxing and well-deserved break.

 

Graphics: 9.0

I absolutely loved Little Dragons Café artstyle due to its mixture of cel shaded visuals with crayon-like textures. It also runs fairly well, even on a modest PC.

Gameplay: 6.0

There are lots of different gameplay styles and control schemes to learn, but none of them are particularly difficult to understand. The cooking minigame is the highlight. The camera controls and the overall overworld movement of your character are far from responsive and fluid though.

Sound: 7.5

There’s not a lot of sound effects or any lines of dialogue to hear, but the simple but endearing soundtrack makes up for it.

Fun Factor: 8.5

Annoying control issues aside, Little Dragons Café is a very enjoyable and relaxing experience, just like its spiritual predecessor. Looking for new recipes, cooking new dishes, and watching your little dragon grow into a giant beast are easy and addictive tasks.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Little Dragons Café is available now on PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Little Dragons Café was provided by the publisher.

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