Mineko’s Night Market Is A Quaint Social Sim with a Built-In Saturday Night Fever

Everybody loves a project, and that is exactly what social simulator Mineko’s Night Market taps into as soon as you press start. Out today on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC with Game Pass, the game introduces titular character Mineko and their father, who are the newest residents on a struggling, Japanese-inspired island and quickly take it upon themselves to help improve it. 

There are lots of tasks to get sucked into around the island straight off the bat. Mineko quickly learns how to craft a variety of items, which can be sold for money from a market stall. This is the beginning of Mineko’s journey to success – the island’s an explorable location, with people to meet and secrets to find, but it all comes down to a comforting pattern: scavenge, craft and discover what you can in the week, then settle down to sell what you can come the weekend.

Locations around the island will provide Mineko with the resources they need to craft a whole range of items, from decorative flower arrangements to trinkets, to delicious dishes. However, this island is plagued with a secret, and some areas are blocked off by agents who are embroiled in their own mystery – Mineko will have a hand in unravelling this and other secrets dotted around their new home.

Crafting gets increasingly complex, and part of the fun is in figuring out where to find these components, and who to haggle with to get them. Collecting resources is a tiring task but fortunately Mineko can purchase delicious Japanese-themed snacks to keep their energy levels up throughout the day. 

At the center of town, Mineko’s scavenging efforts can also contribute to local hotspots, such as museums and specialist shops. By making enough donations, Mineko can help these destinations thrive again – but it’s not entirely altruistic, as this will inevitably bring more visitors to the island. Mineko is also set to work to help their father improve their house, which is a little worse for wear when they arrive. 

All of the week’s hard work culminates in one single event – the Night Market. A staple of the island’s community and the highlight of the calendar, all of the townsfolk come together to socialize, swap stories, and most importantly, sell their stock. The market needs some repair at first, but as you progress through the game, more vendors will pop up and the Night Market will slowly come back to life. 

Roll up, roll up

At the market, the game completely transforms from a tranquil village simulator into a chaotic hustle-fest. It’s extremely tempting to just display the most expensive items you have, but the whims of capitalism force you to go beyond that tactic. Every customer that visits Mineko’s stall will have specific wants and needs, and they’ll be willing to pay different amounts, so you’ll need to be smart about the stock you show off and how much you haggle, or you might not sell anything at all. 

Unlike a lot of social sim games, this event gives you a compelling, timed goal to work towards – while playing my entire week became quickly consumed with finding the weirdest thing to make and sell to my fellow islanders. From Sunday to Friday, my days are spent calmly harvesting materials, making little presents for my friends, helping my dad fix the house and occasionally stopping to pet a cat,. but in the back of my head, the embers of business were forever burning. 

Mineko’s Night Market is a lovely little adventure with manageable goals and a compelling gameplay loop, bundled up in delightfully dry humour. Get stuck into your own slice of island life on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC with Game Pass today.