“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us (…) it is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives” – John Grogan
Hamster Playground is a fun free-to-play Hamster training game that mixes management simulation with mini-games and an overload of cuteness! The game is currently in early access and receives regular updates!
Developer: We Dig Games
Released: 22nd August 2022 (Early Access)
Price: Free to play
Platforms: Windows, Mac Linux (Xbox, Switch, Playstation TBA)
Available on: Steam
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
The first task of Hamster Playground is to select and name a hamster. As well as varying appearances, the available critters will all have different personalities and needs, for example, one might be a lazy hamster who requires more sleep than average, and another may eat less. These stats are available to the player before they choose their pet.
There are lots of quests to complete in-game, most pertain to improving the Hamster house, adding new furniture and upgrading equipment. The first series of tasks works as a tutorial and guides the player through feeding their hamster, getting it to drink, use the toilet and wash as well as encouraging it to play and sleep. These things are also the hamster’s basic needs and must be monitored regularly. Taking care of the hamster’s needs and completing quests will provide XP, upon levelling up a selection of rewards will be granted.
There are a selection of mini-games in Hamster Playground that can be played against a CPU or online against other random players. The games include skateboard racing, an eating competition and a maze race. The skateboard race requires the player to click the mouse while a moving pointer is in a specific area in order to advance the hamster. The eating competition sees players match cards as quickly as possible in order to eat the most food. Finally, a combination of these mechanics is used to get through the maze in a speedy fashion and win the race.
Hamsters can be trained in strength, dexterity, intelligence and determination using different equipment. This will affect how they each perform at the various mini-games and it is up to the player which stats they favour when training the animals. A hamster with high intelligence and low dexterity might be better at mazes than skating.
There are multiple types of currency in Hamster Playground. Coins can be used to buy clothes, food, water and pay for repairs. Stars are useful for buying furniture and decorations. Screws are used for upgrades and seeds are used for training. These four can all be obtained by levelling up or completing quests and mini-games. However, a fifth currency, diamonds, is only available if bought with real money. They are available in packs of 100-7000 diamonds and can be used to buy exclusive customisation items. For example, a new hat or shirt will cost 90 diamonds, and a new hamster skin (only available with diamonds) will cost 20. Stars and coins can also be bought with diamonds.
The inclusion of diamonds is perhaps less than ideal for a game that will likely have a younger target audience. A paid game without optional micro-transactions might have been a more ethical choice, though not necessarily viable. That being said, while this fifth currency can get quite pricey if buying the bigger bundles it is entirely possible to play and enjoy the game without purchasing any diamonds at all.
Narrative and Styling
There are no real story elements to Hamster Playground and the game’s narrative consists of the ones the players create for their hamsters when choosing their personalities and deciding which skills to focus on. This is fairly standard for the genre and it does not feel as though anything is missing.
The game has a very upbeat soundtrack filled mostly with slightly funky music featuring brass, drums, jolly vocals and cute twinkling sounds. This fits the game really well and makes a nice audio accompaniment to the gameplay along with some charming sound effects that help bring the hamsters to life. Hamster Playground also has some lovely visuals consisting of an isometric view and colourful 3D models. The Hamsters themselves are a particular visual treat and are utterly adorable, this is especially true of their delightful animations!
In terms of future content, the developers have made a roadmap available on Steam that lists things such as advanced racing, additional customisation, a maze builder, and the potential for hamsters to fall ill as well as new DLC. There is also a note at the start of the game to say there will be updates to current content including local and online multiplayer, the game’s economy and game modes.
Overall, Hamster Playground is an adorably fun experience. The upbeat music and colourful styling work well with the jolly feel of the game and the overload of cuteness provided by the hamsters as they go about their tasks is an absolute delight. There is a nice variety in the content, from looking after the hamsters to training them, playing mini-games and refurbishing the hamster home. There are limitations to the amount of entertainment the current content can offer but it will easily provide multiple hours of fun with lots more content on the way. As a free-to-play game, this is great quality with no requirement to make in-game purchases unless seeking specific cosmetic items. I’d happily recommend players check out this title and certainly keep an eye on the developer’s updates!
If you like this game you might also enjoy these other animal antics:
Lord Winklebottom Investigates – A Twist on the Classic Murder Mystery! – WoMen in Science – A Wholesome Farming Sim with a Twist! – FixFox: A Wholesome New Space Adventure