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"Green Project" Video Game Review: Farm Sim Meets 8-Bit Survival

Shane's been gaming for nearly 40 years and loves a broad array of games in addition to being one-quarter of the Assorted Meeples group.

There's no lack of farming sims since the massive success of Stardew Valley reignited the farming-sim genre in a huge way. Survival games have always been popular to some extent, with an array of very different survival games like The Long Dark, Don't Starve, and Stranded Deep continuing that trend in the mid-2010s. However, very few games have pulled them together the way that Green Project has.

This indie game has combined two genres in an interesting way. After a couple centuries, you're coming back from a space mission in cryogenic sleep only to wake up realizing things have gone wrong as you crash land and find yourself more or less the last person alive, at least in the area.

Using careful planting of rare tree seeds is crucial to fight the growing toxic waste (which will kill you upon touch), bring back much needed plants and animals, open the way to new parts of the map, and provide resources you'll need to rebuild a base into a livable home.

This is a pixel art game that is very different from about anything else out there, and attempts to carve its own distinctive niche in the video game genres it shares space in. Does it succeed?

Read on to find out!

It's Not Fancy - But It's Post Apocalyptic Home

Believe it or not - it took a LOT of work to get it up to looking this good.

Believe it or not - it took a LOT of work to get it up to looking this good.

The Early Game

The early game can be hectic and rough, but it isn't completely unforgiving. However, it is very easy to back yourself into a corner where you're in serious trouble if you don't figure out a few things quickly enough.

Which makes sense, but also causes a bit of a rushed feeling as players need to try to figure out how to secure food and water, make critical early infrastructure, overcome extremely limited storage, and find out more about this world they're in.

Important early game notes:

  • Build as many water storage containers outside as possible - rain is sparse as is water
  • The early rations make you feel good about food, but build up firewood and get crops growing because it's not as much as you think
  • Don't touch the toxic sludge. INSTANT DEATH.
  • Plant the earliest tree sides at the bottom left towards the well

Green Project throws in some humor. Some of the jokes hit, some of them clang. Learning the importance of searching, storage, and slowly building up the living green of the world is important so you can continue to get the infrastructure to survive and build enough support to survive long-term.

Because unlike more relaxing farm-sims like Verdant Skies, My Time at Portia, or Stardew Valley, you can't just mess around and dawdle in Green Project. This is a very broken world you're on.

And though it might not be crawling with zombies, it's very unforgiving. If you put off prepping for survival, you will end up regretting that decision.

The Mechanics of Green Project

The mechanics are fairly self-explanatory when it comes to food, water, sleep, and health, and one thing I have to give credit to the game for: if you eat a meal that maxes you out, the leftovers remain in inventory to be used later. That is an outstanding option and considering how brutal this game can be with survival in other areas, it's a nice quality of life addition to make life a bit easier.

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Read More From Levelskip

Early on Thyme tea will be your best way for decreasing radiation, and boiling drinking water will be the best preventative measure. The game does a decent job of weaning you into how the basics work, but it will take a bit of time to catch on.

The big mechanic: the toxic muck kills you on touch. That means be careful when walking through openings because if you're off just a little bit you die instantly on contact with any of the black muck.

And sometimes there's one square of black muck behind the tree surrounded by grass.

So be cautious because that is instant death.

Getting tree seeds is a slow process and there are many side quests that can provide more, and the more that grow, the more natural resources you gain access to. This opens up more mechanics in the game to build, craft, and otherwise improve your base and the world around you eliminated the toxic sludge one tree, one plant, one bush at a time.

So Close and Yet So Far Away

Breaking openings through the sludge is a process, but the feelings of accomplishment when you manage to open the map are very real.

Breaking openings through the sludge is a process, but the feelings of accomplishment when you manage to open the map are very real.

Green Project Video Game Tips & Tricks

Green Project brings a refreshing challenge to its strange combination of farm sim, base builder, and survival game. Here are some tips and tricks to Green Project so you can minimize the frustration and get going with minimal problems in the early game.

  1. You can't completely help your sleep schedule based on energy, tiredness, and how long it takes to recover. Early game when you don't have light sources for night, that means you want to spend the early a.m. hours that you're awake doing indoor tasks like sharpening broken tools, cooking more meals, or boiling water so you can drink without poisoning yourself.
  2. Make as many water catchers as possible early on. Rain is infrequent and there's limited water to scrounge outside of that - and most of it is available only after breaking through the sludge.
  3. Once you have many water catchers outside, plant a lot of crops. Keeping yourself fed is much more challenging than it looks.
  4. Keep a good supply of sharpening stones because you need those axes to cut down dead trees and get tree seeds.
  5. If in doubt, chop more dead trees. Wood and planks are in very high demand in the early game (and throughout the rest, for that matter) and the more trees you can get growing quickly, the better.
  6. Fully grown blue bushes give fireflies. Collect these and create a hat lantern so you can scrounge the houses and explore the caves where you can get some serious loot (and a consistent source of the base materials that can be turned into clay and iron).
  7. Don't be afraid to harvest the plants and bushes that grow as you plant new trees. They will grow back.
  8. Roast squirrel is one of your best sources of early food.

These might seem like relatively simple tips and tricks for the game, but they are major boosts and ignoring these or messing around can make the survival aspect of Green Project suddenly become very deadly and very real.

Break on Through to the Other Side!

This took a LOT of trees but I broke through and this opened up large sections of the map.

This took a LOT of trees but I broke through and this opened up large sections of the map.

Positives of the Green Project Game

This is a game that has its warts, but it had some redeeming factors that I'm also a fan of.

Among the strong points:

  • When you eat food or water that put your stats over their max, you get to keep the leftovers to use later - so there's no waste and I'm a HUGE fan of that!
  • Excellent starting supplies in the beginning as you stumble through learning the basics
  • Unique setting and mechanics for farm-sim/survival game
  • The mashing of two genres into something different and unique is something I really like as it brings a very different take on a genre that sometimes has (fairly legitimate) complaints of falling into repetitive copies of one another
  • Because of the relatively high difficulty level, any accomplishments genuinely feel like good gaming accomplishments
  • The attempts at humor don't always land, but a couple landed really well and those were great moments, and the effort to bringing in some dark humor was welcome

Negatives of the Green Project Game

While there are some interesting unique aspects to Green Project, it's very far from a perfect game.

  • Terrible and inconsistent left click / right click mechanics that are unintuitive and switch back in forth (at least in PC version). What takes the left click for one equipped item takes a right click for another. Half the time when you click the wrong one, you drop the item on the ground. It's frustrating and honestly inexcusable.
  • The English isn't 100% on point. At no point is it bad enough to affect understanding mechanics or gameplay but it was noticeable a couple of times and broke the immersion a bit.
  • Some humor was good, but sometimes it got clunky suddenly getting a burst of text with a bad joke.
  • Certain sections of map had really interesting potential that just didn't fully play out - felt like many opportunities were squandered - possibly due to feeling overwhelmed on a first design. Somehow the map was tiresome to walk, full of potential, and strangely empty and cut-off at the same time.

Some of these are fixable and some are not, but they are negatives that are impossible to ignore.

Great First Impressions Video of Project Green from Splattercat

What Do I Wish Green Project Did Better?

I don't know if there are going to be more upgrades in the future, and honestly some of these improvements are almost certainly too in-depth to end up happening as in one clear glaring case they're related to core game mechanics, but after the first 20 hours of gameplay it was pretty obvious to me what the obvious improvements would be.

  1. Fix the left click/right click commands. Basically, there's no consistency with using left click versus right click and it's infuriating. One time it's a right click to interact. The next chore, it's a left click. This might not be a problem on consoles with a controller, but on PC versions it's confusing and breaks immersion frequently.
  2. Pacing. You're either sitting around a lot, or you'll be awake at night without a light a good chunk of the early to mid-game. This pacing can be frustrating and cause periods of waiting when you can't cook, craft, or sleep but need to wait two hours for dawn.
  3. Map Balance. There's some size to the map and parts are packed with stuff and yet somehow despite walking across the map seeming to take forever, the map also feels very empty. It's an unfortunate balance that takes away from some of the very positive aspects of this post apocalyptic setting.
  4. Character Speed. There should really be a way to move faster. Or the base movement should just be a touch faster.
  5. Proofreading. There needed to be more editing of the English translation at least to get the phrasing right.

So What's the Verdict on Green Project?

Green Project is a very interesting game, and it's hard to draw comparisons even within the genres it borrows mechanics from because there's nothing quite like it. There are parts of this game I love, some parts that I like, and some of the concepts are really exceptional.

This is also a game that clearly is a relatively early project of an indie studio and that newness does show. As much as I like the game, it has obvious warts, and those do hamper the quality of the gaming experience at times.

When asked if it competes with Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia, Don't Starve, or The Long Dark my gut instinct is an immediate "No."

But the thing is, it's not meant to compete with those games, and it's not a bad game. My gut tells me it's a good game, with some really bad warts, but at the core it's a good game that keeps me wanting to come back and keep building.

I've put in a lot of hours. Would I recommend it at $20? No, I wouldn't. There's just too many other options for the same or less that are more polished. But for $10 or under if you really love these types of games or genres of games, it might be worth a pickup and a try during the next Steam Sale.

© 2022 Shane Dayton

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