If, like me, you are a fan of farming sim games like Stardew Valley, Story of Seasons and Disney’s Dreamlight Valley, expect to lose a bunch more of your time in Phoenix Labs’ new game Fae Farm. It is not only visually stunning but also boasts an expansive farming system that integrates a magical element that compliments both farming and mining to deliver one of the best games in this genre to date.
It achieves this by learning from the mistakes of other titles and implementing smart controls like automatically choosing the tool you need without manually finding and assigning it and expanding each day with enough tasks and energy for things to be manageable. Fae Farm may seem like your everyday cute farming sim, but is ultimately a robust game that will easily keep you entertained for many hours.
This game’s look is distinct; it feels perfectly crafted for the Nintendo Switch system, with bright colours and beautiful animations that pop in handheld mode on the OLED screen. Everything from the charming storybook style hand-drawn animations that provide the main story cut scenes to the rich and robust backgrounds and items around the village look great. They all feel perfectly designed and translate well when in the docked mode and on TV.
Things are fairly standard storywise; a dark magic has overtaken the village. You must collect and craft tools to clear dark magic and thorns that stop you from accessing certain areas around the island that unlock more items. To truly get into the brunt of unlockable items, you’ll need to head into the mines and use your pickaxe in the right spots to unlock doors to go down a level to get more resources to craft the items you need to access more areas on the island.
Getting Through the Day
Each day starts at 6 am and allows you to stay up till 11 pm, but then forces you to sleep and regenerate your health (and for any items you have put out to the market to be sold) while this happens. You have your area carved out with a house, barn for your animals and storage right from the start, which is a great boost to get into the nitty-gritty of the game when you no doubt become overrun with items as you are carrying out various tutorial style tasks in the early hours of the game. Growing crops, chopping down trees, clearing grass and mining rocks to build up your stocks are essential as the game progresses and you unlock more designs to craft.
Regarding crafting, this game takes the all-in approach and gives you a little too much about crafting tables. Chopping food, cooking, mixing drinks, food preservation, crafting potions, melting down ore, chopping down wood, crafting seals, mixing honey, polishing gems and making fabric. It sounds like a lot, and it is. If you want to house everything in one spot, it does take up quite a bit of space. It also took me some time to get used to all of these stations, and having to travel back to perform one of these actions takes some getting used to.
Farming Made Easy
Thankfully, the developers have put some clever automated systems in place to assist with this. When you approach a tree, the auto-select tools automatically choose the axe for you to chop it down with. As you approach a garden bed with planted seeds, the auto-select has your watering can ready. This is by far the best customisation in any game of this genre, saving you a huge chunk of time trying to find the right tool for the job constantly. If one farmhouse wasn’t enough, there are four to discover and unlock across the island. Each farm unlocks different types of buildings, and once you have them up and running, visiting them each day can sometimes feel a bit arduous.
The other characters that populate your island are a mixed bag. The generic text and conversations you enter into are painfully bland, and apart from giving you missions, side quests and items, the relationship side of this game is painfully lacking. You can find a romantic companion to marry, but the benefits are minimal and don’t offer anything to further your farm or character’s development.
Fishing in this game is a fun mechanic of aiming your line and reeling one in. There is no shortage of fish across many different rivers, ponds, and the ocean and each one offers a different recipe and benefits if eaten raw. In addition, critter catching is a little too easy with many insects, bees and small creatures like frogs, toads and jellyfish that assist in making potions and recipes.
Fae Farm is a complete delight to play. It really feels like Phoenix Labs took the best parts of all of the traditional farming sim games, worked out the weaknesses and infused their own spin on it to deliver the most addictive games in recent years. I have spent 40 hours in this world and still haven’t completed the main story as I’m constantly distracted by side missions, potions, crafting and finding new areas to unlock on the island. If you are a fan of these games, you cannot miss this one.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Gorgeous visuals, Intuitive controls,
Lowlights: Bland NPC’s
Developer: Phoenix Labs
Publisher: Phoenix Labs
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.