If you’ve watched any video from any system manufacturer about their upcoming games, you’d notice a common occurrence is for several of the games to be “farm sims.” Watch one of these live and every time a game with farming in it pops up you’ll see chat sarcastically erupt in “farm sim confirmed” or “Finally, a farm sim”. There are a lot of them.
Because of this, to quote a farm-esque dad joke, a game has to be like the reason a scarecrow got an award. It needs to be outstanding in its field. And there is quite a field. That’s why I will fully admit that Fae Farm caught me off guard.
Ever since Stardew Valley, companies have been fracking the hell out of the potential mountain of farm sim ideas trying to get some of what made Stardew Valley so special and Fae Farm figured it out.
The intro to Fae Farm seems to be an amalgamation of everything I’ve seen from these kind of games. You’re a character who craves more out of life. You find a letter inviting you to a mysterious island. Your boat wipes out and you wake up on a beach with no resources to your name. You’re granted a run down farm for free with a particular set of skills and tools. The intro won’t win a lot of awards.
But when you’re actually playing, it feels like something different. The game has a very lively graphic style. It’s pretty, colorful, and feels somewhat lived in unlike a lot of the games that seems to be mostly sparse. It also does away with the pixelated “throwback” look a lot of these games try to do which I honestly appreciate. They put a lot of look into the aesthetic appearance. Here’s me running through my town just so you get an idea of what the main area kinda looks and sounds like.
When making your character there are also a lot of options, from body type to pronouns to visual tweaks. My only complaint — my ONLY complaint — is that I was so hyped to find a way to make my character look like the rotund old man that I am, only to then find out that out of all the voices, my best option was one that made me sound like a teenager barely out of puberty. You can hear it in the video when I hit that bounce pad.
As the game starts you start setting up your farm, getting to know the towns folk, and setting up your initial crops. My dude was set for an exciting spring as a bean/cauliflower/turnip farmer.
Time continued and I learned how to craft things from the admittedly overwhelming amount of ways you can craft. There’s a cooking fire. There’s a cooking hearth. There’s a prep table that you have to craft to cut up vegtables and things like that to make better recipes. There’s a thing for making ore into bars, and a thing to turn those bars into other things. There’s a loom to make string, and a crafting station to turn the string into fabric, and a station to turn the fabric into other things. There’s a LOT to mess with here.
You could also just not mess with it if you don’t want to and focus more on just watering your crops and selling them off. But even the food you sell goes for a lot more if you mess with it. Turnips are fine but cutting them up at the prep table and then turning the chopped veggies into a tuber salad goes for five times as much.
As time goes on, you discover that while the island is cozy on the surface, there’s a weird dungeon underneath filled with mystery and, more importantly, ore and gems. It’s at this point you’re given a magic staff and sent down into the depths to find better loot and discover mysteries.
If you’ve played Stardew Valley, there’s, admittedly, a lot of similarity to the layout of the dungeons all the way down to the need to find a hidden button underneath a rock to move down to the next floor.
What I liked about these dungeons, however, is that the dungeons look really nice and they’re filled with unique creatures. Most games go with slimes, bats, etc. Fae Farm got real weird with it and decided that the things you have to fight are weird objects that got cursed and came to life. Compasses that walk around like crabs, treasure chests that charge you, anchors that try to fling themselves onto you. My personal favorite is the CANNOT, a four legged cannon that doesn’t really fire anything but tries to jump on you. I love the name so much.
Also, there’s a lot of really cool things to discover about the dungeons, especially as you get towards the end of chapter 3 you’ll start to find there are more than just humans trying to live peacefully on the island. I won’t go into who this is or why but man do I love this creature.
As I played through I noticed there were things that I liked a lot and things that were kind of disappointing. I’ll list those on the next page if you’re interested. Beware that there might be mild spoilers.