Fae Farm, developed and published by Phoenix Labs, is a fantastical adventure in which you explore the colorful world of Azoria. This magical take on the farming sim genre is the perfect combination of mechanics in which farming sims are known and loved for and new ideas which results in a game that combines traditional and new elements to create something special. Fae Farm will see you exploring two different realms, owning up to four homesteads, dungeon crawling, as well as the more traditional animal care, fishing, construction, and more. With the wide variety of tasks to partake in in Fae Farm, there’s never a dull moment in-game.
Fae Farm, Where Great Farming Sim Ideas Come to Life
There is a plethora of aspects that allow Fae Farm to stand out in a sea of farming sim releases. From the beginning, the character creator is incredibly vast. You can customize the majority of your character, down to each individual eye color, and there’s plenty of options to choose from. No matter who you are, or who you wish to play as, you will be able to reflect that in-game.
Once you begin your journey, the fun really begins. Fae Farm offers the player plenty to do from the beginning. With ten different Skills to level up, there is incentive to interact with all aspects of the game. Every single thing that you do will reward you in some way. Harvest berries off a bush? Gain experience, pet your livestock, experience received, brew a potion, you guessed it, experience is heading your way. The system works well and the desire to level up Skills meant that I would, for example, stop and cut down a tree, whereas without it I would potentially run on past unless I needed the specific lumber.
The main areas of gameplay are traditional farming such as growing crops and caring for animals, customization of multiple homesteads and characters, dungeon crawling for story progress and necessary materials, and romance. It is completely up to you as to how deep you wish to dive into these elements. If you want to grow no more crops than the story demands, you will still progress just fine. Or if you have no interest in spelunking, you can make dungeons easier with various potions.
Romance in Fae Farm is an interesting experience. It, like many other aspects of the game, is something that players can choose to engage with or leave alone. I chose to dive in headfirst and romance all potential marriageable characters. This was quite easy to do, as talking to the NPCs and completing their quests quickly resulted in them taking an interest in you. There’s not a whole lot going on in Azoria, and too few televisions. When an NPC asks you out on a date, you can say yes or no. So, you don’t have to play the field if you do not wish to do so. If you say yes, you are witness to a cute scene where the NPC tells you more about themselves, and on each date it gets a little deeper. They are worth viewing for that alone, as character development is best seen through these more intimate moments.
Players can further the story at their own pace. Fae Farm offers the freedom of choice when it comes to whether you want to focus on the story, your farm, catch critters, your relationship with villagers, or a mix of all of the above. However, to move the story onwards, players will find themselves spelunking unique dungeons, with a Story quest received on the bottom floor. These dungeons are filled with necessary resources, enemies called Jumbles, and numerous hazards that make it quite time-consuming to get to the bottom. Each dungeon has a unique set of Jumbles, and you will use your wand to defeat them, either by hitting them with it or casting a spell on them.
Combat is mechanically very simple, but when you reach the later dungeons, the game often lags when there’s multiple enemies on screen at one time. When you attack, you cannot exit out of your combo, which can be frustrating when your last aimless attack means that you’re in an enemy’s AOE and will get hit. The only time that I ever was hit by an enemy was due to the former, and certain enemies seemingly hitting you whilst not being visually close enough to do so, the cog-like enemies are an example of this. That said, combat is skippable in the game. You will be rewarded with loot from defeating enemies, and there are optional quests that require some enemy whacking to complete them, but none of it is necessary. Fae Farm even offers players the ability to brew potions that aid in avoiding fights in their entirety. You could continuously brew potions that make you invisible and complete the dungeon without so much as a single enemy being alerted to your presence.
On Paper, this is the Farming Sim of Your Dreams
It is clearly evident that the developers behind Fae Farm have enjoyed plenty of farming sims in the past. Fae Farm at its core is a love letter to the genre, taking the most enjoyable gameplay elements and finetuning them, including a range of quality-of-life mechanics, it has a vast array of unique aspects that should become the genre default going forward. As an example of this, whenever players interact with the world around them, their in-slot tool will automatically change to whichever is necessary to complete the task. Standing in front of a tree? Interacting with it will automatically use the axe to begin chopping, turn to your right and there’s a clover field? The sickle will be used. This reduces the time it takes to fumble through menus to change which tool you are using.
The map will alert you as to where every NPC character is at any time. There will be an icon displayed next to them if they have a quest that you can accept. And with a variety of quests; story, friend, romance, and job, they often do! Clicking on the icon of an NPC character will allow you to track them. A small image of them will appear, with an arrow, that will point in the direction of their location. This is often handy as these Azorians are always on the move.
Starting Simultaneously is a Must if Playing Multiplayer is Important to You
The multiplayer aspect of Fae Farm has been the most intriguing aspect of the game for both me and many more asides. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to take a deep dive into it and experience multiplayer prior to launch, and unfortunately, it is the one aspect of the game that fell short of my humble expectations.
Multiplayer works by allowing the host to invite up to three players to their world. These players will have to create a new character that will start from the beginning with nothing unlocked and will be unique to this multiplayer experience in the host world. Unfortunately, this means that if you have significantly progressed in-game, and then invite friends to join you, they won’t be able to participate fully in-game until they have progressed through the story and leveled. This was evident by the fact that the players in my world hadn’t unlocked the double jump ability and couldn’t follow me. In multiplayer, players have their own inventory with combined storage and finances. You are free to interact in the hosts’ world in the same way that you would your own. You can look after animals, farm, build and place items, and complete quests, including romancing and marrying NPC characters. So, if you want to date a certain someone, you need to get in quick.
Multiplayer itself is easy to access, and cross-play is a breeze too. Every participant will need to make a Phoenix Labs account, which can be done quickly via the platform that you are playing on. Then you will need to add them to your Phoenix Labs friend list. The platform friends list will not work for Fae Farm multiplayer. Then, in game, the host simply selects multiplayer and invites players who are online on their Phoenix Labs friends list. When playing multiplayer, I was on the Nintendo Switch, and the two other participants were both playing via Steam, and it felt great. You would not have known that we were playing on different platforms at all.
Whilst multiplayer leaves much to be desired when players drop in at random points, if players choose to start the game from the beginning in multiplayer mode, and consistently play at the same time, the experience would be much different. Being able to partake in the same content, and experience the story together is clearly the preferable experience, and so it is best to keep that in mind if your goal is to have a multiplayer-based experience.
After spending close to forty hours completing the story alone, not even taking into consideration the hours spent farming, fishing, hunting for critters, dating the whole town, and more. It is apparent that Fae Farm is a labor of love. The game has been crafted by a team who enjoys farming sims, has a deep understanding of what makes them enjoyable, and intertwines this knowledge with quality-of-life improvements that whilst minor in themselves, collaboratively enrich the overall experience that is Fae Farm.
Fae Farm is a charming experience that mixes traditional farming sim elements with updated mechanics to provide an overall entertaining experience. Clearly a labor of love, the game both excels in its design, and is simultaneously pulled down by its overexertion. Fae Farm is a breath of fresh air, which has been much needed in this space. Just don't expect an immersive multiplayer experience or you will be disappointed.
- Gameplay elements and story provide substantial amount of gameplay hours.
- Varied mechanics allow for the inclusion of all playstyles.
- Quality-of-life improvements are a welcome addition.
- Multiplier impedes progression when not played exclusively together.
- Suffers from the occasional bug, significant frame rate drops, and crashes.
- Limited NPC dialogue options
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.