Bloomtown is a gorgeous village making the most of an apparently infinite golden hour, but don’t be deceived: its pastoral bliss is hiding horrible secrets. We got our first proper look at the game in the trailer that went live in Sunday's PC Gaming Show, and it’s like a darker Stardew Valley.
Developers Different Sense Games and Lazy Bear Games are clearly onto something; a cursory scroll of the Stardew Valley mods list shows modders are already taking the game in a creepy direction. You’ll find mods that let you duel NPCs, plant people seeds, and transform the wizard into Morbius the vampire.
In Bloomtown you're Emily, a young girl visiting her grandfather. Things are a little run down, but there’s plenty to do and plenty of people to meet. Personally, I’m sold on the spa—those enormous windows, enough space for a warrior pose or two, and the incense. Heaven. In fact, the radiant color schemes, lighting, and animations are like the essence of Eastward and Harvest Moon stirred into a cauldron over a low, glowy flame.
It might take a second watch of the trailer to catch those more macabre moments, but there are signs that all is not as it seems in Bloomtown. From the second that Emily steps off the bus, a gnome is sinking into the grass. Citizens glitch into a shadowy silhouette while hustling and bustling in the town. Grandpa watches the news on a television that is unplugged from the wall. Four children are missing, and the advice is to notify the police of any possible sightings, but didn’t we just see one of them standing near the treehouse?
And Stranger Things shakes hands with Persona in Bloomtown’s turn-based battles. Entering an alternate dimension through a magical door, summoned into being by blowing a similarly magical whistle, Emily and her friends will battle demons that reflect the fears and temptations of Bloomtown’s citizens. Weapons like swords, scythes, and shotguns are available, and it looks like Emily’s corgi becomes a brawny bipedal hero donning knuckle dusters. I guess that’s how corgis see themselves in their mind’s eye.
However, our protagonists will turn the tide with the ability to catch these creatures—ranging from lethal dragonlike monsters to squishy repulsive larvae—and "fuse" them to unlock new combat skills. Time cannot be stopped in the game, so it will take a tactical approach to make the most of each of your allies’ skills. Bloomtown doesn’t abandon those life-sim vibes of the start of the trailer, though, because strengthening Emily’s friendships makes them more formidable in battle and reveals new abilities.
The developers and publisher are currently eyeing a release window of early to mid-2024. That is ages away. However, new fans can tune into Different Sense Games' social channels for updates on the game’s progress.