The games industry has seen a fairly recent influx of what people are calling ‘cosy games’. These are games that one is meant to relax to, often with very little serious conflict, and are sometimes packaged with a light farming element. Fae Farm can very easily be described in this way. First announced to be coming to the Switch as part of last year’s Nintendo Direct in September (the one with six different games with farming elements in it), the game is brought to us by Phoenix Labs, who also brought us the Monster Hunting title Dauntless in 2019. Cosy games are a corner of the games market that enjoys a devoted fan base of gamers eager to try anything with the label placed upon it, so let us discuss whether Fae Farm can be counted amongst games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing.
Perhaps the best thing to say about Fae Farm is that it’s fun. The game gets you started with farming and exploring the dungeons where enemies can be fought fairly quickly, getting the player set out on their own with minimal hand holding. Fae Farm also does a very good job at making some quality of life changes to the formula, like how the game auto-selects the tools you need to harvest resources like wood and stone.
Another great feature about Fae Farm is that it achieves its goals as a cosy game very well. The game has a very relaxed feel, with absolutely nothing that makes you feel rushed or stressed. The game has very little consequences, and the combat is fairly simple and easy to undertake. Do or don’t do the villagers requests all you like, and if you just want to go to the beach and fish, well then have at it!
- Very fun game with an expedited tutorial
- Quality game for its genre
My biggest complaint with Fae Farm is that it does not do enough to individualise itself from its contemporaries. During my time with it, I got the strong feeling that the development team set out to make a competitor to Stardew Valley specifically, and wound up making a game entirely too similar to it. Fans of Stardew Valley might find Fae Farm’s introduction very familiar. Your created character receives an invitation to come to a far off and secluded area, is given a large plot of land that has remained largely ignored for a good bit of time, a small house, and a set of tools from the mayor with encouragement to start a farm. That is beat for beat the opening for both games. There are far more similarities but that is the most glaring one in my opinion.
My second complaint is that the game just seems to lack a certain spark of life needed in a game that expects you to care for its characters. You are encouraged to seek out the people you live around, make friends and even romance them, but all of the characters feel like overly cheery dolls. They all have the same set of mannerisms and they are made in the same character creator used to make your own character, which is fairly barebones and does not breathe life into the characters at all. What’s more, everyone's personality is either ‘Happy to See You’ or “Proud of my Occupation,’ which does not allow for any sort of individuality.
- Unoriginal in execution
- Characters do not feel alive
Final Score: 7/10
I’m not a huge fan of saying things like ‘we have Stardew Valley at home’ because I feel that it discourages competition, and instills the notion that someone cannot take inspiration from other games. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t make that joke to myself a few times while playing Fae Farm. It really feels like it wants to be its competitors without fully understanding what makes its competitors successful. I mentioned that the only other game Phoenix Labs has made, according to their own website anyway, is Dauntless. I feel that I should mention that it is a game that takes heavy inspiration from Monster Hunter. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that this game is just a tad too similar to the games that it is attempting to compete with. Don't get me wrong, there is a good game to be found here. If you show up to these games to make a farm, take care of farm animals, and fight monsters in a mine, then Fae Farm is a very good option for you. However, if you're looking to recapture the feeling of community you might have experienced in Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley in a new game, then I would encourage you to look elsewhere.
Thank you for checking out our Fae Farm Switch review, thank you to Phoenix Labs (via Nintendo AU/NZ) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: