Discovering the Unexpected: Tales of the Shire – A Unique Video Game Crossover Experience

Preview The Lord of the Rings does Animal Crossing with a video game that goes off the beaten track for the license. I played Tales of the Shire and it's really cool!


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As part of the Summer Game Fest, I was able to play Tales of the Shire for half an hour, this chill life simulation game in the Lord of the Rings universe, and chat with one of its developers. And if the project seems astonishing on paper, it is much more convincing with the controller in hand.


First announced in 2023, we could quite simply reduce The Lord of the Rings: Tales of the Shire as the meeting between Animal Crossing and the Lord of the Rings. Published by Private Division, the AA section of Take Two, the Weta Workshop title aims to make us embody a Hobbit who arrives in the small village of Léseau to live a peaceful life. It is therefore with this little information that I went to discover Tales of the Shire at its developers' stand at Summer Game Fest and some aspects really surprised me.

A rural adventure in a colorful setting

If the influences of Tales of the Shire are obviously Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, the first thing that struck me is that the game is in third person. Unlike his inspirations which offer a fairly distant camera, this way of following his character makes us feel even more immersed in the world that we are about to discover. But beyond this choice of point of view, Tales of the Shire also shines with its visual part. With its very colorful graphics in a watercolor style, the Weta Workshop title is very pleasant to look at and the way it depicts its bucolic setting makes the experience even more soothing. All this involves coarse textures, but in a good way since it gives a warmer appearance to the whole. The same can be said for the character animations which are quite basic, but childish which reinforces the charm of the experience.

Finally, another interesting detail, the interface is quite refined and this is even felt in the quest markers which are represented in-game by birds, like the wind in Ghost of Tsushima for example. But hey, we must recognize that during our session, we were treated to quite a few small bugs, which is not surprising given that it was a version under development. Hoping that all this will be corrected by the final release scheduled for the end of the year!

The Lord of the Rings does Animal Crossing with a video game that goes off the beaten track for the license. I played Tales of the Shire and it's really cool!

Between social interactions and mini-games, a peaceful life!

Tales of the Shire offers a particular aesthetic, but concretely, what are we doing there? As said earlier, we play a Hobbit who arrives in Léseau and who seeks to live the most peaceful and quiet life possible. On a daily basis, you can arrange your house, go fishing, garden or even cook. Moreover, an important point which will please fans of the genre, Tales of Shire allows you to place objects freely at home, without being limited by a grid and boxes, which is much more pleasant for customizing as you wish. But hey, during my session, I mainly cooked and this takes the form of a set of mini-games that you chain together to successfully complete the expected dish.. But since the experience is intended to be as accessible as possible, you can't mess up the recipe, just make the best dish possible. Obviously, you will have to take into account the different flavors such as salty, sweet or even spicy since not everyone in Léseau has the same preferences.

And yes, there is of course a social dimension in Tales of the Shire. Throughout the adventure, we meet around fifteen NPCs with whom we can interact and get closer as we progress.. But hey, since it's Hobbit, the best way to become friends with them (romances don't seem to be part of it) is obviously by making them food. By getting to know them, they will contact you by letter and ask you to do certain tasks for them which, if done well, will allow you to get closer to them. In addition to that, you can also join clubs which will give you missions with interesting items to collect in exchange. And then, the title also promises to meet well-known characters from Lord of the Rings like Gandalf who we could see in a trailer. It remains to be seen whether famous Hobbits will also be there!

Our impressions

Chill, cozy and relaxed: these are the watchwords of Tales of the Shire. Inspired by Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, Weta Workshop wants to offer a satisfying experience in the world of Lord of the Rings to discover this universe from a new angle. With its colorful graphics and bucolic setting, the proposition may have something to delight fans of life simulations, but to be sure, we will have to wait for the final release of the title scheduled for the end of the year 2024.

Editorial opinion