This review is part of my pint-size profiles, where I review smaller games that don’t quite fit the standard scoring scale. I analyze the game, look at the price point and give my verdict on whether its worth the price.
Uagi-Saba is a creature breeding and colony sim by Undergroundies. It is available on Steam
Uagi-Saba is a strange combination of genres that is both charming and aesthetically pleasing, but somewhat shallow from end to end. In it, you are building a sanctuary to hold and care for ancient creatures known as Mystics. In practice, you are building a labyrinth of rooms from a 2D perspective, producing and spending resources and keeping inhabitants happy.
You build your sanctuary in a manner akin to Xcom or Fallout shelter.
Nearly every action you take, from collecting fungi to feeding your mystics requires energy, your primary resource. Gathering energy is as simple as building a type of extractor that generates it. The more you build, the faster your energy ticks upward.
From there you spend energy to charge rooms out of the darkness, the contents of each room are pretty random. Some might have fungi and rocks to gather, piles of scrap to convert or lore books. This adds a little variance in each playthrough as you can’t quite predict where your water sources or smog vents will be.
You build various collectors to fuel each of your resource pools. Mushroom gardens for fungi, Essence collectors for essence, water pumps for water etc. You covert these resources into new ones. Water and fungi are turned in to cakes and elixirs to feed and water your mystics. Smog vents collect fuel to be used in your furnaces, scrap and stone are used to build new rooms and add-ons.
Some rooms have resources waiting to be harvested when you power them on.
You build dwellings to attract inhabitants to your sanctuary which will provide you with your choice or lore or scrap to your piles. But they must be kept warm and happy. Then you have the stars of the show, the mystics. Once you have a steady supply of food and elixirs ready and producing, you can build a den or two or start hatching your majestic creatures.
The mystics themselves have varying stats and appearances, lifespans and food and water consumption rates. Once they grow up you can breed them with other mystics and this is where the games real draw is. The mystics have unique genetic codes in their various body parts and colorings. You can spend a lot of time perfecting your genetic line and raising unique mystics. Like the other inhabitants, mystics must be kept warm, but not too warm, unlike the others, they need to be regularly fed and watered.
The mystics occasionally say something in their own language, but there is a list of words you can teach them, such as hello, or hungry. And you can teach them a couple of skills if their stats support it. For example, Farsight which will let you open up past memories that can appear in the rooms you uncover. These give you more lore and background on the game’s setting and story.
The lore itself is quite interesting and you uncover it by through a few methods by exploring the game. The art style looks very crisp and smooth, the game’s assets look to be hand drawn and you can tell that the game is a labor of love.
Your mystic starts life as an egg, and slowly ages, eventually dying on old age.
However, everything I described sounds more interesting than it is in practice. Once you figure out the games system, most of its gameplay is just busy work scrolling back and forth clicking resource objects.
The mystics and inhabitants both need the sanctuary to be between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The more rooms you open, the more furnaces you need to have running at one time to keep it at the proper temperature. Once you have a smog vent for fuel, you simply need to scroll over to your furnaces and make sure to click them and fill them up with fuel occasionally.
Once you have a couple of fungi farms and ovens. You click the shrooms when they are grown and click the oven to cook a cake, repeat this process over and over. Interacting with your mystics is as simple as clicking the feed and water icons and watching the resource deplete from your hud, and the mystics hunger and thirst bars drop. They have a bond meter that is required to teach them words and breed them. But after a couple feedings, it will be maxed out.
The mystics don’t move around or really animate much at all. And the inhabitants basically boil down to another resource generator. Build a dwelling and place two lanterns in the room to attract one. Once an inhabitant moves in, they sit in the room and produce lore and or scrap for you. They have a comfort and happiness bar but its mostly a non-issue as long as you keep your sanctuary at the proper temperature.
You can spend lore to unlock new rooms, add-ons, and upgrades, such as a generator to produce more energy or a study to research artifacts that have more juicy backstory attached to them. I found many of the objects were supposed to increase the happiness of creatures nearby, but they really seemed to be more of a cosmetic choice. Inhabitants were always happy with two lanterns, an object you can build from the start of the game. The Mystics were happy as a long they were fed and watered.
Mystic appearances can vary
There are no events of any kind to throw a wrench into your plans. Once you solve the pattern, the game devolves into clicking various resource nodes while you breed new genetic lines of the mystics. You can buy upgrades to automate some of it, but the colony gameplay isn’t all that engaging. There may be a little variance due to the random nature of rooms. But once you know how many mystics you want to raise simultaneously, you know how many rooms full of what you need to sustain them.
The creature raising itself is limited to clicking two icons and watching bars empty and teaching a couple words. I really wish there was more interactivity with the mystics themselves.
The rig I played Uagi-Saba is a solid one. It has an i7 with a GTX1070 and 16 Gigs of ram. But once I expanded my sanctuary to a certain point, my frame rate dropped to below 60 and eventually went down to 30 and I still had plenty of room left to build. Given the aesthetic and nature of the game, the framerate drop was disappointing.
The art is beautiful, the lore is intriguing and the genetics breeding part of the game is very in-depth. But the rest of the mechanics are largely shallow and at times devolve to just clicking resource nodes and scrolling around.
Sadly, neither your residents or mystics actually do much.
This is the part that makes being a game reviewer painful at times. The game was made by one person and you can really feel the love that went into crafting it, especially the art, it is superb. But Uagi-Saba retails on steam for $14.99.
You could get some casual fun out Uagi-Saba. I didn’t dislike my time in it, I just wasn’t particularly engaged. And if the idea of perfecting the genetic line of a creature sounds intriguing, you could put some hours into obtaining it. But the lack of interactivity of the creature raising and shallow depth of the colony building, combined with the frame rate drops means I can not recommend it at its current price. The developer seems very responsive on Steam, however, so even if you don’t buy it now I recommend putting it on your wishlist and following it.
- Awesome art style
- Interesting lore
- In-depth genetic breeding
- Shallow mechanics
- Mostly scrolling and clicking
- Very little interactivity with the mystics.
- Poor frame rate with bigger sanctuaries.
The insatiable gamer also did a review of Uagi-Saba, and they had a more favorable view than mine. On the fence? give them a look here