Currently in beta on mobile devices, Usagi Shima gives players the happy task of building up an abandoned island and pampering its rabbit residents. I’ve only just stepped into the hug-in-game-form that is Usagi Shima but its adorable leads have already stolen my heart.
I have to check on the little buns any time I have a spare moment to make sure I never miss an opportunity to pet, photograph, or play with the fuzzy island dwellers. (I’m literally playing as I type this.) Its pleasing hand-drawn style and delightful gameplay make this mellow sim something to put on your radar.
On my first day on the job in this early beta, I start with a thousand carrots — the game’s currency because of course it is — to begin developing the empty landscape. The tutorial quickly guides me through the systems well and prompts me to purchase a store. Here, I can buy toys, plants, or more buildings to give this bunny-filled landscape the glow-up it deserves.
Each item attracts the floppy-eared creatures, which pay — again, in carrots — for the pleasure of lounging on their favorite bedding or getting that perfect scratch behind the ear. After getting the store owner up and hopping, I decide to grab an expensive banana-shaped cushion.
Grabbing it from my inventory and dragging it across my phone’s screen, I place the charmingly drawn object under the shade of a couple of swaying pine trees. The attraction proves too tempting for Peaches, the first rabbit to step foot on my budding resort.
At this point, one of the icons on my menu begins to shake, and, checking it, I see it leads to a kind of bunny Pokédex. Peaches is now revealed on the list and various important facts, like our friendship level or favorite toys, pop up. The album is woefully unfilled but before I can rectify that, I have to refill my carrot stores.
I can do this in several ways. One of the easiest is scrolling through the illustrated environment as little carrots grow throughout the day which I can simply pluck from the ground. The game is connected to my real-world time, so it pays to check in the sun of the afternoon as well as the dim light of evening. I can also choose to cater to my clientele. Peaches almost immediately asks for a photograph while luxuriating in her yellow sleeping spot and rewards me with around ten more precious veggies.
Later, I discover other requests include feeding a rabbit, brushing it, playing hide and seek, and good ol’ fashion pets — these also increase your relationship status with individual animals. There are also daily challenges that fill my carrot coffers for addressing a set number of the residents’ needs.
If I don’t happen to be watching my phone, I still have a way to earn that cash crop. Creatures stopping by while I’m away leave carrots in my “tip jar,” which is not only extremely cute, it also lets me see the rabbits I haven’t yet met.
While at this stage of development, options for collecting the orange-colored currency abound, earning gold carrots — which I need to buy new buildings — is comparatively restricted. Checking off all my daily challenges and logging in every day for rewards are really about my only options, and neither will have me rolling in gold unless I’m willing to support the game further.
Usagi Shima includes the trappings of a free-to-play game. Mostly, this pops up when I’m collecting rewards when the game asks whether I’d like to double the payout by watching an ad. I also notice I have the option to pay anywhere from $3.99 to $9.99 to remove all ads and construction limitations permanently. It’s not overbearing as far as these kinds of monetization methods go, however, it is something to be aware of. The game is still in development, so we’ll have to wait and say what the final form looks like.
Currently, I’m staring at an album filled with pettable critters and a shop brimming with the most endearing items. I’m excited to go on a shopping spree and adorn the world with lovely landscapes and darling playthings. There’s also a beach area I need to unlock and it’s just calling my name. So, I’ll take every chance I get to glance at my phone and visit my little bunny island because the undemanding and winsome Usagi Shima has me enchanted.
I also have it on good authority that the game will appear in next month’s Wholesome Direct. So, make sure to mark your calendars and prepare for “a big announcement.”