Glittermitten Grove PC Developed by Mostly Tigerproof Released in 2016
I should probably clarify how this crazy indie month was organized to dispel any idea that there is a reason for starting off with a game like this. Basically I just took 31 games I hadn’t played yet and threw them into a randomizer, which became the order in which I will be playing these games. That the first title ended up being Glittermitten Grove is unfortunate, but this isn’t going to be an indie month dedicated to weird games like this. With that said, let’s try to make sense of this game.
Never trust a fairy
At its surface, Glittermitten Grove is a management simulator wherein you are tasked with building and maintaining a village of fairies. Yes, that does sound like I picked up an indie game for 3 years old, and yes it also looks like that, but please bear with me here for a moment.
You have no direct control over your fairies and instead select buildings and tasks that need to be done, whereupon the fairies will do them whenever they can be bothered. The trick is that you can only create buildings in trees, so on top of managing your village and resources like food, sparkle (magic), and crystals, you also need to plant seeds to expand the forest and tactically direct fairies to cut branches where needed. You see, a really cool twist here is that sunlight makes plants and trees grow, but they also block out the light in doing so. Plantlife that is left without sunlight will wither and die, so while a big tree might be excellent for building a ton of houses in, it will claim a lot of light that your bushes might need to produce food. This is where woodcutting comes in, as you can specifically choose which branches you’d like to cut to maximize the spread of sunlight.
Regrettably there isn’t terribly much to build. You’ll need houses to house fairies, pantries to store food in, a woodcutter to leave wood at, etc. Most buildings just expand the amount of resources you can contain and if you are full on any of it, your fairies will just leave it on the ground until space becomes available again. One dubious building are the sight orbs, which bring light to an area around them and enable you to build there. These are kind of obnoxious to keep placing and become incrementally more expensive as you expand, but I also find the area they free up really small, and since you can only build them in an area already lit up by another sight orb, it takes a lot of micro-managing to maximize their use.
Being fairies, you also have access to magical spells, though these are of limited use. You can plant new plants if you have the seeds for them, which I wouldn’t exactly label as magic, but you also have a spell to create a temporary sight orb and fireworks that are used for underground mining. The fireworks are kind of fun, as you select a series of patterns for the explosions and then watch the fire dig into the earth, providing you with treasure and crystals.
I like the idea of a village management game where everything is based on trees, plants, and their growth cycle. It’s creative and definitely has enough possibility to make a game out of, but the lack of interesting buildings or goals to work towards leaves the game lacking. All you can really do is expand the village with buildings that enable you to store more resources, which brings in more fairies to gather those resources, and which demand more expansion to house them. It’s a dull routine once you get past the novelty of managing the forest.
Gameplay score: 5/10
A fantasy staple
This is a rather simple and inoffensive 2D game with bright colors to it. The way the trees grow and shift as you build stuff on their branches is a neat detail, but that aside there is nothing really that impressive about the game in terms of presentation. It’s just serviceable.
Presentation score: 6/10
Twist! Twist! There’s a twist!
It’s kind obvious that there is a twist to Glittermitten Grove because Adult Swim isn’t known for publishing kid-friendly fairy games. Though it’s not marketed anywhere, people that stick with Glittermitten Grove for a while are in for a few surprises, and while that may sound like it contradicts my earlier statements about the gameplay, the reality is different.
I won’t be detailing too much of the twist, but from what I gather this game is a tie-in to an ARG that has been running for a while and has its audience. Hidden within Glittermitten Grove is more ARG stuff and it has a lot of content to it. The problem here is that it is hard to find information on this stuff if you aren’t already in the know; most reviewers will hint that there is a twist without detailing that the twist has a niché audience to it. If you come here for a fun village management game you’ll find Glittermitten to be rather shallow and if you come because everybody keeps saying there is a twist, you’ll have to play a possibly obnoxious fairy game for hours while trying to find a twist you’ll probably don’t really understand or appreciate.
It’s a fun idea to hide ARG elements in another game, but here it’s possibly too large and that bloats the game’s price to a somewhat ridiculous $20, which is really steep for people just looking to manage their village (considering the amount of depth this component has) or those who were lured in by reviewers and fans playing coy.
Extras score: 2/10
If you are into the ARG this game is a part of then you probably don’t need me to tell you to go and play it. As I browsed through the game’s forum I found a few like-minded people who also got the game because the internet was making a deal out of it, only to not care about the twist at all. To them, a developer responded saying they considered Glittermitten Grove to be a complete and worthwhile game, which I honestly don’t agree with. Glittermitten Grove has no meat to its actual management gameplay, it’s a barebones cycle of expansion that produces more resources that require more expansion to store, there is nothing to unlock and nothing to work towards. Without the relatively large ARG part of the game it might have been able to sell at a more acceptable price point, but for $20, even if it were on sale, I could only recommend this title to those into the ongoing series.