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As you may have been able to tell about me from my past review of My Time at Portia, I am an absolute sucker for farming/resource gathering RPGs. Immediately upon seeing Verdant Skies, my heart fluttered at the premise: space colonists land on a whole new world and begin to make it habitable – and also, farming.

I was not disappointed.

There’s no time for that Rosie! I have land to till!

Verdant Skies is a resource gathering/RPG developed by Howling Moon Software. The premise of the game is simple but fresh: you are in a future where humans have begun to build colonies on planets far, far away. You are a farmer who is embarking on an adventure as one of the first colonists on the planet Viridis Primus. Through your efforts and mastery of the land, you work to bring prosperity to the colony and build a new place for humans to settle.

Perfect. I love it.

The controls are very simple. Most actions are doable through a point-and-click style of manuevering the world. Though the plants findable through foraging are few, there are many non-Earthen crops to be planted and alien animals to raise. The game makes use of a very interesting DNA splicing mechanic for both crops and animals. Splicing DNA from two collected specimens serves to combine characteristics of the parent genes. These can be used to increase the number of good that can be obtained in a single collection, increase growth rate, or overall increase the quality of the finished product. It’s actually really fun.

No animals were harmed in the making of this sheep

Something that sets Verdant Skies noticeably apart from most other resource RPGs I’ve played is their approach to establishing the player’s gender, in that the player’s gender is never explicitly established. There is no point in which you select a ‘male’ or ‘female’ option for your character. The character creation has a decent selection and when the player goes to select a shirt for themselves, each shirt comes in two varieties: with breasts and without breasts. No gender is assigned to the body type.

I love this. I absolutely love this. The developers have set it up in such a way that it doesn’t really register that gender hasn’t been explicitly established. It’s just that smooth. Characters refer to the player character by the name that the player entered and all dialogue is structured in a way that pronouns aren’t used for the player. It was so smooth that I had been playing for a few hours before I realized that I had never been asked.

It’s brilliant, honestly. It is something that is incredibly meaningful to people who are outside of the gender binary. Beyond just not stating the character’s gender and pronouns, there are NPCs who use non-binary gender pronouns.

They also like bugs, which is cool.

The most captivating part about Verdant Sky is easily its characters. Lovely character illustration is highlighted by NPCs with unique personalities and motivations. Each day the NPCs say something new. This is groundbreaking. No, really, I mean it. I remember back in the days of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town? We would sit there for entire seasons before someone said something new. It was exhausting.

Aside from having unique dialogues, the characters themselves pass the Marie Kondo test by sparking joy. Each character is captivating in their own way. From Rosie, the friendly and handy technician who uses her own mechanical prowess to accommodate her blindness, to Miles Kelly, the propitious shopkeep with an eye for art and profit, the NPCs prove themselves to be 3-dimensional characters. What is more – the developers have been steadily adding more NPCs to the game through updates, keeping the game fresh far after its release date.

Verdant Skies has a lot of features that other games simply don’t have, especially when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion. The controls may be simple, but the game is beautiful and addictive. From Brittany at Indie Uncovered, Verdant Skies receives a big recommendation.

Verdant Skies is available for purchase on Steam for Mac, PC, and Linux.
Follow the game and developers on Twitter: @verdant_skies, @bethkorth, and @kortham.