The career of Tolkien’s big-budget fantasy has taken gaming by storm once again. While Gollum ignored AdventuresAnother game, Shire Talesoffers a gentler, lower-risk way to play in the world of Bagginses, Lembas bread, and Gandalf.

Set somewhere between the end of The Hobbit, but before it all begins in The Lord of the Rings, Tales of the Shire sees you settling in Bywater, helping your fellow villagers achieve their quests and dreams. This includes fishing, growing vegetables, and cooking food to improve your relationships, unlock new recipes, and perhaps other activities.

The game’s simple but effective home decoration system allows you to move a single book or an entire table (and everything on it). In fact, the entirety Shire Tales It seems to be designed as a gentle introduction to relaxing gardening game mechanics, with cooking and general neighborly activities. A gentle system of bluebirds helps you navigate the cozy but crowded little village. (If it’s not a village, it’s a hamlet, right?). And when you run – don’t do it BeingYou Skips.

If anything, it’s a little also familiar. You can fish, farm, and cook some dishes, and these activities provide rewards that can all be tracked elsewhere in the village, just like countless other farming and village life simulators. The overarching goal is to help turn Bywater into a wonderful village by helping your neighbors with their various projects and challenges. During the short demo, I was tasked with developing a new menu for the local inn. I had to carefully choose the ingredients and spices to get the right flavor for the dishes that represent the story of Bilbo Baggins’ adventures to steal treasure from a dragon. but Shire Tales It doesn’t reinvent the genre.

The Tolkien references are there but they’re not overwhelming – this is another cute country village that needs a little help – just everyone has big, hairy feet. The development team told me that their writing team includes a “Tolkien expert” to ensure that side quests, stories, and characters still fit cohesively with the author’s vision. I think this generally means maximum whimsy. Expect plenty of chilling riverside food and relaxing errands.

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Even the relationship mechanics between your customizable character and the rest of the village rely on making dinner to form and deepen bonds. Hosting a mean dinner party unlocks more quests and – just as importantly – more effective recipes for chatting and feeding other villagers. Meal making itself is a relatively short mini-game in which you extract the basic ingredients to combine your guests’ favorite flavors. Some fish, for example, may have a salty or spicy flavour, which improves your odds of making new friends. The mini chart guides your cooking preparation as you aim for the best consistency and texture for your culinary creations.

According to the team behind it. Shire Tales It is deliberately slow-paced. It aims to be tolerant and does not punish the player if they make a mistake or fail to complete a mission. Time passes slowly, giving the player enough time to walk (or skip) to other parts of the village. My demo was a relaxing, if predictable, jaunt around the county, but it could be a tempting new game Animal crossing or Stardew Valley fans, all with the cultural appeal of Tolkien.

Shire Tales It will be released later this year for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series

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