Stardew Valley has reminded put-out Harvest Moon fans that farming sims can be fun, but with both the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons series going in weird directions, is there anything excellent coming from the original creators? Yes! Little Dragons Cafe was created by Yasuhiro Wada. the founder of the Harvest Moon series, and reflects that style of game despite not being a farming sim. It's a cute, sweet, and laidback adventure with some rhythm game elements, some cafe sim elements, and a little bit of exploration all centered around a single adorable dragon and its caretakers.

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I received an introduction to the game at E3 2018 through a hands-on demo, and was immediately charmed by the game's aesthetic and easygoing gameplay. If you've ever loved a Harvest Moon game, this is something to keep an eye on when it comes to the Nintendo Switch.

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What is Little Dragons Cafe?

In Little Dragons Cafe, you can play as either of a pair of twin siblings whose mother has fallen into a deep sleep. In order to wake her, the two must hatch and raise a baby dragon who, when grown, will have the power to help them. However, their mother also ran a cafe out of their house, and the two must keep the cafe going at the same time.

Each day, you can choose between helping manage the cafe or heading out into the world with your dragon to find new food ingredients and explore the island, looking for recipes. Better food will attract more visitors to your cafe and will also help you grow your dragon in different ways.

How do you play?

Little Dragons Cafe operates on an in-game clock similar to the Harvest Moon games. You'll wake up in the morning in your room above the cafe and will be able to check in on your staff (who may not always be motivated to do a great job), craft new recipes in a rhythm game interface, greet new customers, or fill orders. You can do this all day if you want, as the cafe will likely run better while you are present. But if you stay glued to the cafe, you'll never move forward.

That's why you'll need to take time in between cafe shifts to head outside and collect new ingredients. You can find fruits and vegetables growing, sugar from butterfly mounds, and collect meat from animals. Little Dragons Cafe is a very non-violent game, so instead of combat, you'll need to trick animals into running into rocks and...dying. Okay, it's not perfectly graceful, but it works.

There are plenty of other ways to collect food, too, including some that will require your dragon to perform tasks for you. When your dragon is small, it can crawl into small holes and collect things from inside. As your dragon grows, you'll eventually be able to ride around the island both as a form of fast travel and to reach high places you couldn't before. To keep up the dragon's strength, you'll have to feed it, and what you feed it may affect its color and how it grows.

What is gameplay like?

In my hands-on demo at E3 2018, I found Little Dragons Cafe to be a laidback adventure with less stress than the Harvest Moon games had at times. The cafe serves as the more bustling, sim side of the game, but there isn't an awful lot to do out in the world beyond exploring farther and looking for new ingredients. My demo did give me infinite ingredients to play with, though, so I may have just been looking for some sort of progression that wasn't there because I already had everything.

My two favorite parts of the demo were its dialogue and its art style. The dialogue is gentle and goofy in the same way I remember Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life being, and the characters are very memorable. Early on, a sort of green ogre shows up to become your chef, and you have wait staff that constantly cause very silly trouble due to one being very lazy and the other being a bit frantic. I was told that Little Dragons Cafe can be played for quite awhile (15-20 hours was estimated, but that's not a strict number since the game isn't out yet), but not infinitely like some Harvest Moon games. It has a specific story to tell with a beginning, middle, and end and aims to satisfy the player by its conclusion.

I mentioned the art style, which again is reminiscent of A Wonderful Life, but with a sketchy, artbook quality to it. Everything is colorful and cute and pleasing to look at, and a relaxing soundtrack backs everything. If you're looking for a gentle break from fast-paced or violent games, Little Dragons Cafe seems to be a great laidback adventure.

When can I start cooking?

Little Dragons Cafe is planned for an August 24, 2018 launch on Nintendo Switch. It will cost $59.99.

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Chef, I have a question!

Want to know more about Little Dragons Cafe? Ask your questions in the comments!

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