Fae Farm (Switch eShop) Review

Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here because you’re probably craving another farming game in your life. In fact, you’ve probably played most of them already, from Stardew to Harvestella, and you’ve likely been burned a few times by games you haven’t played. completely Scratch the itch. Now, you want to know if Fae Farm, one of the most promising farming games of the last few years, lives up to the hype.

The short answer: especially. The long answer: this review.

Let’s start with the praise – of which there are many – Fae Farm is absolutely fantastic. You might think the trailers are a bit like My Sims or one of those mobile game ads where Granny kills everyone, and we agree with that, but in action, Fae Farm is beautiful. Colors burst from every inch of the meticulously hand-drawn landscape, and although the character art leans on the side of simplicity, it works well, especially when the game is played in handheld mode. The food, decor, and monster designs are all so exquisite and clever that they seem timeless and almost illustrative, like a Beatrix Potter book. It is a real pleasure to look at.

Faye Farm Review - Screenshot 2 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

If you’ve played any of the Rune Factory games, you’ll more or less know how the game itself goes. Some horrific environmental problems (vortexes, spikes, toxic gases, etc.) hinder progress, so you must delve deeper into dungeon-like areas to find the source of said problem. You’ll need to collect resources, money, local crops, materials for crafting potions, tool upgrades, and food to survive in the dungeons; Then, when the clock strikes 11, it’s time to go home and sleep. Rinse and repeat.

It’s the “collect resources, money, crops, and materials” part that makes up the bulk of the game. Between growing crops, discovering new crops, raising animals, and managing a growing number of farm buildings and workbenches, your job will definitely be for you. Whatever you don’t need you can put it on the market tables in the city centre, where it will be sold overnight; Any money you make can be spent in the same market, mostly on home decor.

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But home decor is actually, secretly, a vital part of the game. Some pieces of furniture increase your health, stamina, and mana bars, allowing you to venture further into the mine dungeons and cast more spells. As the game’s name suggests, there’s a fair amount of fantasy you’ll need to interact with – although they only appear after the first two long chapters – and magic is everywhere. Mana is the currency you spend to use powerful tool abilities, like increasing the range of your watering can, and it’s also how you land attacks when fighting Jumbles, the beautifully designed inanimate objects brought to life that plague your journeys into the mine-dungeons.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (anchored)

If this sounds like a lot to handle, it is. Our save file has been in existence for more than 40 hours, and we… Still We haven’t reached the end of the game’s story, because there is so much to do. There’s a workbench for everything: smelting ore, chopping wood, cooking, chopping food, making preserved foods, making drinks, polishing gemstones, making seeds, making cloth, making potion ingredients, making potions, making honey, and making seals that let you move around. To a specific dungeon floor. There’s also creature hunting, fishing, shell collecting, ingredient gathering, and… the list goes on.

It was in this large number of systems that the first downfall of the Fae Farm appeared. There are just too many things to keep track of. On top of the many crafting stations, there are also working quests for almost every one of them, as well as different biomes with different types of wood, ores, creatures, and grass. There are different seasonal crops for you to craft yourself, and there are at least four different farms to unlock, which doesn’t sound bad until you realize that each one has its own farm buildings. That you can’t move, so you have to visit them all every day. No wonder our farmer is always exhausted despite eating five baked potatoes an hour.

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Surely some of you might read about the huge pile of things to do and smile. We don’t blame you! It can be fun to manage a billion little systems. But it always made us feel a little confused at times, and we were never in control of everything.

Faye Farm Review - Screenshot 4 of 5
Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

But the developers make it difficult to complain! There are plenty of little tweaks here and there that make Fae Farm a relatively smooth experience, not least of which is the automatic tool selector. Hover over the plant and it will turn into a watering can automatically; Stand next to a rock and it will turn into your pickaxe. Your character can also jump and swim around the map, making shortcuts a breeze, or select which NPC to look to for impeccable directions. Your calendar keeps track of events and birthdays, your to-do tracker tells you what you’re supposed to do, and your calendar reminds you of everything you’ve learned so far. And this whole thing about home decor being the source of your personal upgrades? It’s so novel! You can tell that the developers have paid attention and that they actually care.

But we’ve put off the biggest sour note in this review: the social aspect of the game. It’s… it’s not bad, it’s just… not good. All the NPCs are as interesting as a tea towel, with recycled lines that you repeat every time you see them. You can become someone’s friend just by listening to them thank you for the umpteenth time for something you did three seasons ago. And friendships don’t even do anything. They won’t give you discounts, come to your house for tea, or even change their conversation often.

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Worse still, the pre-determined romantic characters, with all the emotional complexity of a wet cardboard, will fall in love with you whether you want them to or not. You’ll go on dates with them – short and sweet dates – but your character has no voice, and you’ll simply listen to them talk, usually about their fears, before they thank you for listening as if you had a choice.. If you choose to marry one of them, you’ll have a nice ceremony from them, but at the cost of 10,000 coins, you’ll occasionally see them hanging out on your farm. That’s it.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (handheld/untethered)

This game’s disappointingly deep socialization feels like a drop in quality compared to the beauty of everything else. The game itself isn’t terribly deep either, but it makes up for it with great breadth. Coming back from a busy day on the farm to a husband talking to me like we just met feels like a huge missed opportunity.

Also, as you might expect from a game with this many systems, there are some bugs at launch, though the developer, Phoenix Labs, seems to really excel at patches. One NPC has a permanent quest marker above his head, because he wanted to go on a date with us but then we — absolute bastards — got married instead. We also couldn’t complete shipping contracts, which is one of the main ways to get big money, and we encountered some difficult crashes as well, although auto-save meant we never lost much progress.

However, as a whole, Fae Farm is a stunning and thoughtful addition to the farming game business, with plenty to do that will keep you entertained for a long time. Just…don’t expect people to be more interesting than kale.

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