Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook Review

If you played a harvest moon Where Stardew Valley, you’ll know that romance and farming aren’t such a weird mix as it might seem at first glance. Starting your own family seems like the natural next step after nurturing families of pigs, sheep, and cows. Plants and love can “bloom”.

Florist: Summer in Fairbrook knows this and moves the slider so it’s about halfway between farming and dating. By day, you are a novice farmer, tending to a field loaned to you by a benevolent uncle. By night, you’re a lothario, making the ladies swoon with your shrewd choice of dialogue options in a visual novel.

It hasn’t always been your life. You are Steve, a little runt who believes he should get everything in life for free. He makes a scowl as soon as his longtime girlfriend dumps them, and his father soon stops supporting the back talk. You are sent to your Uncle Sam’s farm in a rural town to learn the humility of the handle of a shovel, which falls with Steve as well as you probably expected.

Fair play to Steve, he eventually gives in and begins to work. It becomes the first half of every game day, and it’s very simple. Everything is displayed on a single interface, which makes the field a little narrower than Steve’s ego. You are given a set number of hours to spend in the field, and actions cost a different number of those hours. The field is starting to get overgrown, so that’s your first task: grab the rake and clear the weeds so there’s room for your crops.

Once a patch is cleared, you play a game of “which action is most important”. Our priority was to get rid of plant pests so they wouldn’t die; harvest crops for sale; fill empty plots with seeds; and finally, eliminate the weeds that arise.

The fact that we could reduce our agriculture to an order is half the problem. There isn’t much of a strategy in breeding: it’s more of a process. And it’s not fun enough, as the process progresses, to be worth it.

If you’re anything like us, Steve will end up with more money than he could use, so farming doesn’t mean much either. And it’s a bit of a pain to interact with. The interface is clunky and imprecise, as the rows of fruits and vegetables are offset from each other. Getting the right plot to highlight is surprisingly difficult, and Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook makes it doubly painful by asking you to then navigate to the action you want to perform, rather than pressing a single button once you are there. It’s like gardening with boxing gloves.

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However, head into the afternoon of each day and the visual novel kicks in. That’s when you’re on your own, which invariably means doing a little courtesy. The suitors are Jill, your ex you can chat with on the phone; Clara, fitness enthusiast; Marian, librarian and older woman; and Susana, a sophisticated florist.

We have to get something out of our chest here. Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook is a strange name for this game. It sounds like you’re going to scratch your itch at a flower shop, when you’re absolutely not. The only flower shop is owned by Susana (admittedly, that’s also where you buy seeds), and she’s a minor player. We guess “Lotment: Summer in Fairbrook” wouldn’t have quite pulled it off.

You choose where to spend your time through a schedule, which is relatively common in Ratalaika titles like Flatmates, A Little Princess Lily and C14 meetings. Spend enough time on one of the relationships and the storylines begin to develop, as you uncover the characters’ flaws or needs, which is a path that leads them to Steve.

We’d like to say there’s the thrill of a new relationship, but it’s all rather unimpressive. The majority of interactions are filler: a stock dialog that you’ll see ninety percent of the time. Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook will occasionally decide, on a whim (you’re never quite sure what triggers it), to give you plot-progressing interactions, but they’re not nearly often enough. You can complete a romance subplot with only four of these interactions. It’s really thin.

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When they happen, they’re pretty good. The writing is finally let loose and the characterization begins to shine through. There’s some writing talent here, but there’s very little of it, and it’s rattled by the same repeated dialogue.

There aren’t many Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook. The end is in sight after an hour. The good news is that the endings are varied and meaningful enough to keep you wanting to play again. The bad news is that you’ll have to do all the clumsy, unimportant farm work every time, as well as plan your week with the calendar. We would have paid a little more to be able to skip those moments.

Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook isn’t one of Ratalaika’s best visual novels. It tries to marry a farming sim to a dating sim and leaves both sides half grown. There are good times, but you have to seek them out, and they don’t bear enough fruit to be worth the effort.

You can purchase Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook at Xbox Store

If you’ve played Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, you’ll know that romance and farming aren’t as weird a mix as they first appear. Starting your own family seems like the natural next step after nurturing families of pigs, sheep, and cows. Plants and love can “bloom”. Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook knows this and moves the slider to be about halfway between farming and dating. By day, you are a novice farmer, tending to a field loaned to you by a benevolent uncle. By night, you’re a lothario, making the ladies swoon with your shrewd choice…

Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook Review

Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook Review

2022-05-30

Dave Ozy





Advantages:

  • strong writing
  • The endings are all robust and varied

The inconvenients:

  • Farming is inconsequential and kinda dumb
  • The main character can be an asshole
  • Too many repeated dialogues
  • To play again is to do agriculture again

Information:

  • Many thanks for the free copy of the game, go to – Bought by TXH
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Reviewed version – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – April 15, 2022
  • Introductory price from – £9.99


TXH-score



2.5/5

Advantages:

  • strong writing
  • The endings are all robust and varied

The inconvenients:

  • Farming is inconsequential and kinda dumb
  • The main character can be an asshole
  • Too many repeated dialogues
  • To play again is to do agriculture again

Information:

  • Many thanks for the free copy of the game, go to – Bought by TXH
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Reviewed version – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – April 15, 2022
  • Introductory price from – £9.99

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