I'm not sure if the creatures you collect in first-person farming sim Among The Wild are cute or disturbing, but I'm already in love with them

There's a fine line between adorable and horrifying, and Among The Wild has one boot on either side of it. Revealed  at the PC Gaming Show today, the first game from Swedish developer Nuggets Entertainment is a first-person farming sim, exploration adventure, and creature-collector. And those creatures sure are cute… except, are they?

For instance, the pudgy yellow-beaked birds we see in the trailer are almost cute but their eyeballs are just a little too big and their pupils just a bit too beady, such that they border on sinister looking… so while I do want to pick them up I don't really want to hug them. Then there's your mount, which has the stocky pink body of a giant pig (cute!) but the face and horns of some sort of… pug-faced lizard? I don't even want to know what unholy union led to that creature—but it does look fun to ride around on.

And then there are the stars of the trailer, those round fuzzy creatures with mouths that are a little too wide to be trustworthy. You just get the feeling they might look around, blink a few times, and then abruptly swallow someone's pet cat without ever losing that big, chummy grin. There's even something a little off about the character you play in Among the Wild: at first a young shepherd in a bright yellow poncho doesn't seem suspicious, but why are they wearing a mask and a hood?

I'm intrigued, in other words, by this bright and colorful yet oddly off-kilter world where you build a farm in the wilderness, plant crops, tend bees, cook, craft, and collect creatures. But unlike a lot of critter-collecting games, those little monsters living on your farm might not be as helpful as you expect.

"It's probably more the opposite," says Nuggets Entertainment founder Tim Badylak. "They're more of a pain in the ass." Dealing with the critters on your farm is more like herding misbehaving children, in other words, so in the trailer where you see a creature excitedly running around with a log or a crate, if you look closely you'll see that it's on a leash—otherwise they might simply run away with whatever you've given them to carry. "You have to serve them more than they serve you," Badylak says.

(Image credit: Nuggets Entertainment)

Badylak is reluctant to spill too many details since Among the Wild is still in the early stages of development, though he tells me the creatures have already demonstrated some emergent behavior from time to time—like mysteriously escaping from their fenced-in areas. "We're trying to make a needs system and different behaviors for different creatures," Badylak says, "so weird combinations can happen. And then suddenly, you're like, wait a minute, didn't I put you over there? And you're there now? Like, how did you get out?"

The creatures demonstrating unexpected and unscripted behavior have been the "best moments" of Among the Wild's development, says Badylak, and he hopes to preserve moments like that for players. "There's gonna be some jank, but it's gonna be lovely jank," he says.

As for the unusual looks of the creatures themselves: "We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have creatures that would be polarizing. Some people would love them, some would think they are ugly, some would think they are cute," Badylak says. "The idea for us is to not necessarily have one style [so] everything becomes too cutesy."

A fuzzy creature on a farm with a cabbage

(Image credit: Nuggets Entertainment)

Even after our chat, I'm left with plenty of questions. What was that weird thing slinking through the woods? Why did one of the fuzzballs hover in the air before turning into a small blob, and what's the purpose of the squishy brain-slug we see being attached to another of them? And what's that door at the end of the trailer, which appears to be a portal to an entirely different world? What the heck kinda farming sim is this?

We'll might find out soon, since Nuggets is hoping to have a closed alpha sometime this year. I can't wait: it looks weird, cute, and disturbing all at once, and it's the most interesting looking farming sim I've seen in ages. You can sign up yourself for Among The Wild's closed alpha here

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.