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Review

Fae Farm Review

A casual jaunt through the farm

Farming games have become a bit of a prime mover in the casual gaming market, and it’s obvious why. When you can spend however long you wish designing everything your way, from vegetable plots to relationships, it’s the freedom of living a diverse life as disconnected from reality as you can get. Granted, Stardew Valley gets a hefty chunk of recognition for getting eyes on the genre, but there’s been no end to the games across the past few years promising lives unlike any other. I for one welcome the chance to escape into relaxation between my usual video game fare, with no objectives outside of feeding my pet chickens and digging deeper into a few mines, and Fae Farm fits the bill rather well.

A stark contrast to developer Phoenix Labs’ action-RPG Dauntless, Fae Farm instead invites you on a farming adventure  in the world of Azoria. Here everyday life mixes with magic as you create your own homestead full of livestock, crops and contraptions, before venturing out across the strange island to uncover secrets, caves and various quests to revitalise Azoria. It’s a chance to escape to a new world and do what you see fit, and while many other video games of its ilk entice in similar ways, Fae Farm has some enjoyable charms to its corner of the comfort neighbourhood.

Customisation plays a big part in how you’ll carry out your various tasks. Outside of creating your own character, your home becomes your own personal playground of flowers, vegetables, and cuddly critters. Much like Animal Crossing, your private cabin can be upgraded over time to expand in size and scale, decorated to the nines with just about anything you can think of (that’s G rated, of course). What you place in your home, however, alters your personal stats of health, energy, and mana. The more comfort items you have of either three stats, the more of each you’ll have available to your character, and I found myself in the early going working towards upping my energy levels to reduce the reliance on food items to keep me stocked up during each day.

Don’t be sus, weather, you hear me!

Magic, too, has a role to play in just about everything across Azoria (it isn’t called Fae Farm for nothing). Potions can be crafted to make life a little easier and certain abilities will unlock as you complete various quests that can aid you both in everyday life and in battle. These both eventually leading to discovering some unusual critters and colourful quests later. There are caves to explore that house some not so nice creatures, though for the most part these are just as casual as everything above-ground and didn’t give me much trouble. Resources can also be mined at your leisure that can lead to new, more interesting activities and equipment. Fae Farm does its best to remind you to take your time, as your progress into caves won’t be saved unless you craft tokens to unlock checkpoints, so you won’t be diving in headlong all at once.

Throughout my journey I found myself appreciating the colour and relaxation of Fae Farm arguably more than most of the other games of the same blueprint. That’s partly thanks to a more fluid and faster traversal system, using jump pads to get to higher ground for example. Early fetch quests were far less cumbersome in comparison to other lifestyle games, as I jumped and ran from A to B in a flash. It allowed me to discover my own routine rather quickly, taking care of my homestead and selling my fresh produce to the locals before venturing out into the caves each day (what can I say, I’m a cave guy). Before I knew it, I’d upgraded my home to a comfortable size and had a rather successful cauliflower business which paid my way.

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What Fae Farm gets right unfortunately can come undone by some slightly convoluted menus and strange design choices. I’m sure this won’t annoy everyone, but for all the work put into making the adventure side of things feel efficient, having to click into a sub-menu to retrieve certain items I’d crafted feels cumbersome. It doesn’t happen all the time, to be fair, but a handful of crafting menus (such as the kiln) needed an extra button press or two to transfer materials across. It’s unusual since it doesn’t happen with everything you do, almost like the UI design team didn’t want to cramp each menu window and had to compromise here or there. I would have much preferred cohesion, but it is what it is.

You can pet the chickens. 10 out of 10, GOTY

The more interesting choice comes with how you work the day/night cycle. Time passes relatively quickly with each in-game day, and the transition from sunny mornings to chilly evenings looks the goods, but as the clock ticks closer to midnight you are given a warning. Ordinarily that’s fine, I know many other games suggest bedtime ahead of spending all night cutting down trees, but Fae Farm hard locks you from doing what you want, whisking you away to bed at the stroke of 12am no matter what you’re in the middle of. It meant I had to approach the time limit appropriately with what I wanted to achieve, sure, but not allowing me that full level of freedom to decide ‘bugger it, let’s stay up mining rocks all night’ is a shame.

Again, I get why that decision was made, and the intended younger audience will likely find this peculiarity less intrusive than I did, but a simple option of allowing you to teleport back home or staying out would have been welcome. Better still, why not go the Animal Crossing route and having a real-time clock instead? It creates more inventive opportunities, in my mind that would have elevated the experience here even further.

Fae Farm does include multiplayer co-op, though unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to test this out here. Given my own solo experience was solid, despite some minor lag in places and a handful of load screens that can vary in length, I’m quietly confident that my enjoyment with the game would be amplified with three other players running around the island, though I’d argue playing local would be a better experience than playing online on a Switch.

Inclusivity, love to see it

Final Thoughts

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Fae Farm’s story-driven quests can handhold you towards discoveries that will unlock new abilities or equipment of worth, but I had a much more enjoyable time doing what I wanted and exploring at my own pace. That’s the beauty of games like this, providing the content if you want it but not necessarily forcing it upon you. The hours you put into Fae Farm will vary depending on what you’re hoping for, and I could see myself losing plenty of real-time days to Fae Farm as I build up my chicken army, let alone anything else.

Reviewed on Switch // Review code supplied by publisher

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Fae Farm Review
Magical times ahead
If you’ve been waiting for another lifestyle game to sink countless hours into, Fae Farm should be on your list. It’s fun for all, allows for plenty of customisation and sprinkles plenty of magic over the top for good measure.
The Good
Gameplay hits the right notes of the genre
A colourful, engaging world for all ages
Plenty of customisation options
Traversal is a breeze
The Bad
Menus could have been more cohesive
Freedom can be limiting at night
Story takes a back seat to your own playstyle
8.5
Get Around It
  • Phoenix Labs
  • Phoenix Labs
  • Switch / PC
  • September 8, 2023

Fae Farm Review
Magical times ahead
If you’ve been waiting for another lifestyle game to sink countless hours into, Fae Farm should be on your list. It’s fun for all, allows for plenty of customisation and sprinkles plenty of magic over the top for good measure.
The Good
Gameplay hits the right notes of the genre
A colourful, engaging world for all ages
Plenty of customisation options
Traversal is a breeze
The Bad
Menus could have been more cohesive
Freedom can be limiting at night
Story takes a back seat to your own playstyle
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Mark Isaacson

Known on the internet as Kartanym, Mark has been in and out of the gaming scene since what feels like forever, growing up on Nintendo and evolving through the advent of PC first person shooters, PlayStation and virtual reality. He'll try anything at least once and considers himself the one true king of Tetris by politely ignoring the world records.

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