Hundred Days of Wine

Hundred Days starts out like many other “farming-sim” type games, in an industrial office setting. And like all of those other games, your gameplay avatar finds herself bored of the mundane corporate life, and decides to move to the country and start over with a brand new life. In the case of Hundred Days, that new life is as a winemaker in the fictional country of France where I get to live out my lifelong dream and open a winery.

Make no mistake though, this is not like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. Hundred Days is a technical winemaking simulator wrapped in a visual novel. The charm of the game lies in it's simplicity, the wonderfully calming soundtrack, and the personality of the characters you meet along the way. If you've played games like Coffee Talk or Va-11 Hall-A you'll know exactly what to expect here. The puzzles are simple, the progression is easy to pick up on, and the journey is more important than the destination.

The story is where this game really shines. There's no branching narrative, this isn't some fancy RPG with skills and stats. It's a visual novel and, like all the best ones out there, the characters (including the one you play) drive the experience. The story is cute, the characters are fun and different from each other, and the blink-and-you-miss-it commentary on the evils of greed and capitalism are… present. 

If you're playing with a glass of wine in your hand, each time Anna busts out a "hey gurl!” you have to drink. You'll thank me when you sober up.

The only true complaint I have is that the story was too short. Really. If you pay attention to the journal entries and do what you're supposed to do, the story mode is finished within an hour.

Hey, you spilled tetris on my visual novel!

The core gameplay mechanic of Hundred Days involves choosing an available action from a small hand of cards. Once chosen, the card becomes a polyomino (a tetris-y looking shape made up of cubes) onto a limited gameboard space. Each turn you'll have a limited set of cards depending on what actions are available to you during that season or at that specific point in the winemaking process. If you have crushed juice in your warehouse, you'll see a card that lets you bottle it. If not, you might have a card to harvest the grapes, crush them, or maybe to clean your machinery or repair broken tools. You'll never see cards that aren't applicable or able to be used on a given turn, which makes the choices of what to do much simpler and straightforward. You'll rarely be confused about what to do next in Hundred Days.

As the game progresses and you build out new rooms, gain new equipment, and develop new winemaking technologies, you'll quickly realize that the different polyomino shapes will not all fit on the board at once, forcing you to make decisions. Should you harvest both of your vineyards today (each card taking up a huge amount of space on the board), or do one now and prep your other vineyard for a bigger harvest next season? Once you have wine in the cellar, you'll also be fulfilling orders from town. Because the main reason we're in this business is to make money. Right? RIGHT!? Yeah. That's right.

The Stadia Bit

I know you're here reading this because you're actually wondering how well it plays on Stadia. So here's the scoop. It's great. Hundred Days renders in full “I don't know if this is 4K or not but I don't care because it's a cute game with colourful art.” It's a rough estimate but I would clock the frame rate to be at least 15fps, though it's hard to tell because there's not a lot of fast paced action. Except in that one scene where Gianni is [spoiler]. Playing with a controller is fine. The game was clearly built with a mouse and keyboard in mind, and they did a perfectly serviceable job of getting controller support in there, but it's not great. There are a lot of extra clicks on the D-pad to get where you need to be, and the “info bubbles” on the cards are sometimes impossible to click on. With a mouse you'd just click it but with the controller you have to all the way to the right, then press down, then press over onto the cards. If you then accidentally press down it selects the card and you have pound the the right direction button to start over again. Annoying. Minor annoyance. But still annoying.

More annoying to me specifically? I missed out on getting an achievement early on because the text on it is wrong. The achievement reads “Increase your fame to level 30” so once I hit 30 I started spending it, not realizing that the achievement hadn't popped. It wasn't until later that I noticed the icon says…. 50?! Hm. Thanks for that. I guess I'll reach that in the challenge mode. ;)

Will This Game Turn Me Into A Professional Vintner?

Yes. Absolutely it will.

I'm kidding. Sort of. There's so much real actual winemaking information in this game it's honestly a little overwhelming if you're not expecting it. Like any good farming sim (i'm looking at you Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin), if the game doesn't lay any real-world knowledge about it's subject on you, why even bother?! Don't worry too much if that's not your thing though. The journal entries go into a fair amount of detail on real winemaking practices, and the gamified concepts of aging, secondary fermentation, vine diseases and moulds, etc, etc, etc are all explained in-game in a way that's fascinating to learn about… but if you don't care about getting too deeply into that stuff, it's not necessary to excel at the game.

Final Score

I'm giving this game a solid three out of five. Why so low!? Because the story is too damn short and the achievements are too damn easy.

I play games like this for one of two reasons. A challenge in getting all of the achievements, or a compelling story that makes me keep coming back to play again day after day. This game doesn't have either of those things. All of the achievements (save the one I mentioned above) popped for me within the first hour of gameplay. And I absolutely love the gameplay loop, and the unique style of play with the polyomino cards, but in this case that's not enough to make me come back. The story is fantastic, but it's over way too quickly. In my very first session I played through the entire story twice. When you're trying to sell me on a visual novel, I shouldn't be able to finish the entire thing in the time it takes to eat two pop tarts.

I'm still going to go back to it and play through a few of the challenge modes… but I'm giving it a three. Maybe they'll release some DLC to expand on the story? Let's hope so.

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