Stonefly comes from the team behind Creature in the Well, but aside from sharing a gorgeous visual style, they have very little in common. This new game is an enjoyably peaceful experience about a world inhabited by tiny people living alongside the bugs in giant natural ecosystems. Humans get around by piloting bug-like rigs, allowing them to glide between oversized branches, gather resources, and fend off any pesky critters. You play as Annika Stonefly, a young mechanic who inadvertently loses her father’s priceless rig, and goes out on her own to get it back.
Early on you’ll meet a small group that helps Annika get started, giving her a run-down mech to build up along her journey. This mech is the real star of the game — you will quickly upgrade its abilities to deal with harsher environments and bigger bugs, and you’ll also be able to customise its look. The main thrust of gameplay is going out on excursions and gathering various minerals from the world, and then using these to either buy new parts or improve your rig’s glide, jump, defences, and more. It’s a simple loop, but it’s a satisfying one. Mining for resources can be tricky when insects want those materials for themselves. Thankfully, your mech can stun and then push any bugs away with blasts of air, making for basic, non-lethal scuffles. It’s a unique way to handle combat, but not particularly exciting.
You can float about and gather materials as you please, which is pleasant, but the game doesn’t quite have enough to hold your interest. Sadly, the story aspect falls a bit flat — the main thread is interesting but the writing isn’t particularly engaging, and any cutscenes lack impact. Overall, the game is a tranquil journey through a unique world, but it doesn’t quite have the narrative pull or gameplay bite that it needs.