If anybody needs me I'll be in the garden buying cute hats for adorable birds

Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe is a game about managing a garden where you can meet—spoiler alert—tiny birds. Put some bird seed in the feeders, place a toy somewhere (something as simple as a paper bag, a wooden perch, or a cardboard box with a hole cut in it) and soon you'll have a feathered visitor in your yard. When the birds eventually depart they'll leave you a note about how much they like your garden, as well as a few feathers that act as currency, letting you buy new toys and birdseed for your yard to attract more birds.

This is all completely adorable on its own, but it's also extremely fiendish because the makers of Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe also let you buy wee little hats for these cute birds, and the hats are as cute as the birds, and there are, like, 20 full pages of cute hats to choose from, and the whole game is just dripping with so much charm and cuteness I almost can't stand it. I mean, there are even little bow ties and spectacles and costumes, all of which you can use to dress up your bird buddies. I haven't really had such a cute gaming experience in a long time.

And it's not just about popping a hat on a bird and sitting there smiling at the combined cuteness you've just created. Click on a bird, read its bio, and learn a bit about what it likes (music, books, art, cheese, etc) and you'll get some idea of its personality and some clues as to which gift the bird will not just enjoy but truly love. Each bird has three favorite hats, toys, and treats, and figuring out their faves will strengthen your relationship with them.

I've had mixed success with guessing favorites—a bird named Cheesie (who looks like a bird made out of cheese) visited, and I saw there was a hat that looks like a wedge of cheese in the hat shop, so I bought him the cheese hat. Made sense to me. He liked it, but it's not one of his favorites. On the other hand, a bird named Mallow who likes videogames and cosplay was quite taken with "The Boss" hat, which is a military beret and eyepatch that kinda makes him look like a bird-version of Solid Snake. I'll have to keep guessing what will make Cheesie truly happy, I guess.

When you're not cooing over the birds in your garden, you can head to the nursery, where you can raise your own bird from an egg. I suggest you do this since it's not only adorable, but can provide you with extra feathers to spend in the store when you clean up their poops. You can also feed the baby bird (the color of the food you give them will dictate what color they become) and once they've matured they'll fly away, telling you they'll never forget you (sniffle). Don't worry, it's not an idle promise: the birds you raise will visit your little garden from time to time.

There's a story, too, involving several non-bird characters (human beings, let's call them), a small group of friends and the various personal challenges they face. There are also a number of mini-games to play, new gardens to unlock, a photo mode to take snapshots of all your new bird friends in the costumes you buy for them, and other activities. It's a great game to leave running in the background during the day, checking on it occasionally to see if you've got some new visitors (there's over 100 different birds to meet), collect feathers, and go shopping for more treats and hats.

It's also a game with a lot of very positive, warm, affirming messages about supporting your friends and taking care of yourself and others. Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe, made by a husband and wife development team, is a very sweet, gentle, and oh-so-gosh-darn-tootin' cute experience.  You can find Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe here on Steam.

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.