A farming co-op: Our early adventures in Fae Farm

As much as I love the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons games, I’ve never really branched out from them to other games in the genre. It even took a ton of convincing (and the realization that it was the same franchise) to get me to try Story of Seasons.

This weekend, that changed with Fae Farm, a cute little cozy farming sim that came out on Friday.

Shane first brought up the idea of playing Fae Farm together about a week ago, and ended up getting it for us in time for release day. Honestly, I was just happy that he wanted to play because it’s really not his genre of game!

So why was this one—and not even a different label of my familiar favourite farming game—so easy for me to agree to? Well, first of all, it’s incredibly cute, and not too far off from the art style of Portal Knights, another Minecraft-style game that Shane and I had tried and loved a little while ago.

More importantly, though, Fae Farm is a co-op game—which means that unlike Story of Seasons, Shane and I could play together, and I could help him get to know the farming sim genre without it either being overwhelming with chores or boring with repetition.

So of course, we dove in, and here’s what I think so far.

What I like

The multiplayer feature.

I just love the idea that I can settle in with Shane and play a cozy farming game with him, especially on days where he’s not up for something intensive. It’s definitely nicer to work together on the same things instead of playing the same game separately but together, too.

So far, it seems like it’s really easy to join games, though you do need to be past the tutorial chapter to unlock multiplayer. It also looks like the devs may have set it up so it’s possible for each player to have their own home, and each player can contribute independently to everything around the town and farm, so no one is necessarily locked into what the host player is doing.

The (lack of) grind.

Probably my biggest struggle with Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons games is that after a while, you get into a routine, and then you just sort of slog your way through the days until you get to your goals.

It could just be because I’m still fairly early on in Fae Farm, but so far, I don’t get that feeling. They’ve done a good job of taking the grind out of the farming sim genre by making daily tasks easy enough to do without feeling like they’re facile; I especially like how easy it is to feed animals and water plants.

I was a little worried that it would get more complicated once I got past just having chickoos (this world’s version of chickens, who like to Naruto-run everywhere when they’re outside), but even with the addition of this world’s cows and sheep, mamoos and woolyhorns respectively, it doesn’t seem that bad.

The crafting system.

I am a sucker for a good crafting system. As much as I loved the idea of crafting in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town originally, it didn’t take me long to figure out that the maker system was an absolute mess.

In theory, it was great. You could refine your own raw materials into useful items and high-value products without having to pay someone else to do it for you. But in practice, it was the stuff of frame-rate nightmares, especially when you started to gather enough of the little machines to sustain a major farming operation. That was actually one of the main reasons why I stopped playing: I just couldn’t handle the jittering.

Fae Farm uses a similar system, but dare I say, they got it right. It plays more like what you’d see in a survival RPG like Raft or V Rising, where it uses one or two core machines to queue up whatever you need made, so you don’t need an individual machine for every separate craft.

It will probably help to have more machines later on, but for now, I just love how much I can get done.

The combat.

Much like the Rune Factory games, Fae Farm turns its mine—full of essential ores—into a dungeon crawl. Though I’ve always loved how peaceful Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons are, I have to say that I like the addition with this game because it makes the mine a little more adventurous without relying on anxiety-inducing pitfalls. It also makes the game more fun for players like Shane, who like to have that bit of combat!

I also really like that the creatures all seem to be very directly related to the main story of the game. I’ve yet to solve the puzzle, but it’s just a nice touch at this point.

The freedom.

This is still very much something that I’m clinging to from the trailer, but the idea with this game is that you can actually design your house—and it follows in the style of Animal Crossing, as far as I can tell so far, because it gives you total control over where things go throughout your house. None of the limited design issues from Pioneers of Olive Town.

As a bonus, putting time into designing your house is how you level up your health, energy, and mana, so it’s just a no-brainer for me.

It also gives you some challenges for creativity, including what seems to be a flower crossbreeding system similar to the one in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. So far, I’ve only bred a couple of pink flowers, and I’m starting to investigate things like crop variants, but I’m excited to play around with the system more and see what’s possible.

What could be better

The reliance on players’ familiarity.

Like a lot of farming sims and cozy games these days, it seems to rely a little on the idea that people would have played similar games before. It does do a decent job of explaining the premise, but there were a few times I found myself instinctively going through the motions of tending a farm while Shane was trying to figure out what to do.

There were also a few times I had to look up what to do because it wasn’t exactly clear within the game. For example, it’s got a function on your tools a little later on that requires you to charge them up, not unlike the Wonderful system from Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness. But it just asks you to use the magic ability—I don’t really remember being told how to use it.

The wild movement.

I do love how much flexibility we have to explore, even being able to jump and swim around our new island home. That said, the game definitely leaned on a squishy sort of aesthetic that extends to the way your character moves, and that can at times make it feel like you’re a little out of control.

The verdict

All in all, I think Fae Farm is going to be a dangerous new obsession for me, and I’m excited to see what else I can discover about it!


Have you tried Fae Farm? Are you going to?

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