Moonlight in Garland Early Access Review – Escape to the City

Sometimes when we don’t know what to do with our lives, change is a necessity. A new haircut, a new job, new friends—a new life completely. That’s why we’ve packed our bags and moved to the city—Garland! With new people to meet, jobs to do, and even apartment buildings to restore, Garland is the perfect place for us to get a fresh start.

Moonlight in Garland, published and developed by Winters Group Estate, is an open-ended life sim with a city to explore, relationships to develop, and dreams to see through. It’s currently in Early Access so there’s lots to come and even more to be fixed, but as it stands now, it’s a lovely little game.

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A pretty character (me) in a pretty apartment!

You start off with a pretty good customization screen, and while I wish there were more color options for certain clothing pieces, it’s not too bad; I still got to make a ridiculously cute character! You get to choose your pronouns (including xe/xem which was a very welcome addition!), birthday, favorite color, and favorite food. You’re also free to change everything in-game in the menu screen whenever you’d like, including your birthday and favorites. There’s a good number of settings, actually. You can change the controls, font, how fast the day goes by, idle animations, and whether or not you want to save energy when doing tasks.

Moonlight in Garland is fairly interactive right from the beginning, and in open-world games like these where it’s up to you how you spend every day in hopes of never getting bored, interactivity is extremely important. You don’t start off with a calendar, map, or even an apartment. In fact, that’s one of your first tasks—go find an apartment to move into! There are four options: Cedar Court, Maple Place, Pinewood Central, or Birch Tower. They’re all run by different people and house different city folk, each with their own stories and community projects, so you’re in for unique experiences depending on which one you move into. You don’t have to worry about cost yet (thanks to the city council’s move in loan program) but there are different prices shown when you do pick a building, so maybe in the future you’ll have to pay rent. I personally chose Cedar Court, which was pretty rundown and not at all how it looked in the pictures, but I’m so interested in seeing what the other apartments have to offer story-wise.

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All of my neighbors have such unique rooms

Aside from dealing with apartment stuff, there are some other things to do in the city of Garland. There’s the notice board where you can buy and deliver items for people, find certain pieces of garbage to recycle (and there is garbage everywhere), or clean off some graffitied trees, all for money. You can garden, take pictures of animals, and do other odd jobs around the city. There are many initiatives, aka checklists, for you to try and accomplish too. For example, planting 1,000 seeds. And of course, there are people to get to know. Sophie, for example, the very pretty fanfic writer who works at the music shop. There’s also currently one festival towards the end of spring, and it was a great time.

Moonlight in Garland has a very beautiful, pixelated art style. It’s simplified, yet detailed at the same time, vibrant and full. Though I do have to say that the portrait art may be a little jarring at first, as it’s such a big contrast from the cutesy pixelated style of the rest of the game. The music compliments it all nicely, as well. I soon enough found myself humming to the couple of different tunes around Garland.

Garland 03
A night out after a heartwarming petal event

The characters themselves are absolutely amazing too. The city is so full of diverse people with genuinely different personalities. I cannot say that there is one person who reminds me of another, and I’m quite impressed with that seeing as there are plenty of people to get to know. Everyone has a few petal events to start out with, and it was such a blast unlocking some of them and getting to know my new neighbors. One of my favorite things is their profiles, where they list a bunch of information about themselves, including their relationship status, birthday, and a few prompts answered about who they are. That alone was enough to see just how vastly different they all are from one another.

Another one of my favorite things in Moonlight in Garland so far is the phone calls. Becoming closer to people unlocks the ability to call them and find out where they are. I was honestly surprised at how detailed the phone calls were. Sophie (I am in love with her) said she was with Liv before the festival started. Then, when I called again later, she said she was at that festival because it’s right outside her apartment so why wouldn’t she be? I called her one last time even later in the day, she she said that she was at work and was going head back to the festival at three o’clock (which she did!) It all adds so much character.

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Cedar Court’s building owner being his lovely self

Now, as much as I adore almost everything Moonlight in Garland has to offer, there is a fairy big barrier between me and being able to fully recommend this game—the bugs. It’s an Early Access game so bugs are to be expected, and I’ve seen how day in and day out how hard work is being done to combat these issues. But as it stands while I’m writing this review, there are a lot of them still present. There are a few bugs I can look past—some pathing issues, levitating trash, people glitching out of bounds, and achievements being completed even though I was nowhere close to actually finishing them.

But then there were some bugs that made it really hard for me to enjoy the Moonlight in Garland at all. There were a lot of what I assume to be events that weren’t triggering. People would be stuck standing in one area, sometimes with another person, with an out-of-place item that I figured was supposed to be for an event that never triggered. My game also crashed way more than I would have liked for it to. Some of the crashes were fixed, but some of them still persist as I write this review. For example, one of Sophie’s petal events would crash as soon as it started. I would crash a few times when going into menus, too. I got used to saving every so often out of fear that my game would crash if I didn’t, and that’s not a very fun fear to have. But of course, these are all things that can and hopefully will be fixed before full release.

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Only the love of my life and I hanging out at the festival

There is so much potential in Moonlight in Garland. I genuinely adored almost every second I spent with it, and it looks like there’s so much more to look forward to in the future. But there are a lot of jolting bugs right now, and because of that, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. I’m not saying don’t play Moonlight in Garland in early access because of these bugs, because I’ve seen firsthand how the developers have been on top of trying to fix them. But I am saying to assess how much running into these bugs might mean to you or hinder your experience. Either way, Moonlight in Garland is a lovely game that I truly enjoyed playing, and one that I cannot wait to see flourish.

Inanna played Moonlight in Garland on PC in Early Access with a review code.

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