Fae Farm (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 24.09.2023

Review for Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch

Farming games are an ever-expanding genre. Die-hard fans play any and all entries, but others need tempting with exciting new elements. Phoenix Labs intrigued players by adding wings to the mix, filling the land of Azoria with magic alongside the expected types of crops, and half-familiar farm animals. Starting out with almost nothing, it is up to the protagonist to unravel Fae Farm's mysteries while expanding their homestead and travelling to new lands that hold clues to the intriguing plot.

The gentle pastel colour palette and cosy aesthetic is one of the first noticeable aspects of Fae Farm. Key story elements are told through a series of still illustrations rather than animations, which is slightly disappointing as some other sections are animated, but these pictures are more than adequate at conveying the plot points. Before such scenes, the game starts with choosing a world name and then an unfortunately wingless human in the always anticipated character creation. Even at this stage there are some unusual aspects. There is an immense variety in hairstyle, hair colour and eye colour, with the latter allowing for each eye to be a different colour, yet limited choice of eyebrows whose placement in all cases felt too wide a distance from the eyes themselves. There was an equally limited range of lip designs yet a multitude of facial decoration patterns with a wide range of colours.

Once the highly individualised look is finalised, the character embarks on an adventure and ends up meeting the mayor, Merritt, who makes it clear that yes, Azoria is a paradise, but there are some slightly troubling matters that need sorting. Thus begins the prologue where some of the varied tasks are explained. Any time a quest is finished, the person involved not only has to be visited in person to tell them the quest is complete, but then needs additional communication to end the quest, which can feel tedious especially if they are at the opposite end of the map. It feels like at least one of the steps in completing tasks should be automatic. There are teleport points, but these are not unlocked until the correct type of seal is produced using a combination of metals and gemstones found in the depths of the local mine. Mine levels can be warped to individually once the appropriate seal permanently unlocks the level. All the item gathering takes time and energy. The beneficial part of the mine is that when selecting the floors, it shows which materials are on which level and the probability of finding that material. This is invaluable when trying to farm certain ores essential for tool upgrades. There are three mines in total, each with a unique way of opening the door to the next level, and different materials.

Screenshot for Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch

Almost all tools can be upgraded at the blacksmith, for a sum of money combined with some refined ore of course. The exceptions are the fishing rod and creature capturing net, which can be found at two different people's shops, and both require money and a certain fishing or catching level. Levelling up happens in all areas of Azoria life: from foraging, farming, chopping wood and so on. Sometimes boosts are given, for example critical attack chance may increase for magical attacks. Magic is predominantly wielded by a staff, and mana usually is replenished with potions. It does regenerate slowly over time, often not fast enough for when it needs to be used. Tools like the scythe can use magic once at a particular upgrade level to gather up relevant items in a limited area. Similarly, the watering can quenches thirsty crops over a similarly limited area, but all these deplete the mana supply and are not always worth the waste. Mana can be replenished by potions that can be bought and also made once the appropriate equipment is set up on the farm. These are not overly expensive so can be stocked up in advance of requiring a lot of magic use.

Food is an essential part of the game; it is needed to restore physical energy used to do absolutely everything. At first cooking is simply baking raw items on a fire but after a while ingredients can be chopped at a cooking station before being combined into a dish. Dishes cause energy replenishment numbers to be far greater than consuming the individual items in their raw state. As new areas are unlocked so too are new ingredients and subsequently additional dishes can be created. Cooked dishes and beverages can be used as a way to make money. Almost everything can be sold at the market, or at the farm stand which is unlocked early on. There are eight slots on each of the four market stalls, and it is unknown if the slots ever increase in quantity. Items have to be placed individually; they cannot be stacked so if there are six turnips they take up six slots. Early on anything can and should be sold but later, as more materials are needed for constructing objects, it becomes clearer what should not be sold. Some catchable creatures are rarer than others and probably should be put aside in case they are needed in a quest. Energy power-ups do appear around the world seemingly randomly and are convenient when stumbled upon.

Screenshot for Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch

Alongside farming and foraging, quests are the main staple of gameplay. Quests have various categories, including main quests and side quests that are further divided. Some have time limits, so should be prioritised, some seem to disappear if not completed the day they are given. Certain quests such as fulfilling a shipping contract are part of the main story, but it is possible to take on and complete a contract before that initial quest appears. Unfortunately, it then takes about two weeks in the game for new contracts to appear, rendering that particular quest suspended until a new one can be taken on. This is a frustrating part of gameplay, as is the lack of explanation on how to complete some quests. For instance, one quest needs flower decorations, so it seems implied the item would have flowers on it or used in the construction. Thankfully an internet search helped reveal that a squid vase counted as a flower decoration, which does not seem immediately obvious as it seems that a decoration with flower materials is required rather than something to be used for flowers that did not use a single flower in its creation.

Quests can be signalled for through letters or may simply appear as a question mark by the person's name when viewed on the map which cleverly shows who is in each area, something highly useful when needing to conclude a quest. Unfortunately, that individual's icon has to be clicked on to lead the player too them in the form of showing which direction they are in on the screen, rather than a pinned quest automatically tracking to the relevant character. Equally annoying is how, when new items are acquired that unlock new recipes, these are displayed on the right of the screen and overlap with text displaying other information. For example, when adding items to a market stall it is impossible to see the price of the item as the new recipe script is in the way. Time is another major annoyance within Fae Farm. It does not stop in all menus; this includes dungeons. Going into the menu to eat some food does not stop the passage of time and enemies can keep attacking and reducing the health further. If it is reduced too far then the protagonist is removed to the start of the dungeon. So far only potions top up health; it would be useful if some of the recipes replenished both health and physical energy - maybe this happens further on in the game. It can be irritating to be in the middle of putting items in the market stall only to be told it is bedtime and the game instantly going to the summary screen of what sold that day. It seems that stopping time in menu use is usually a standard feature, perhaps this will be adjusted in a future update.

Screenshot for Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch

Accessibility options like choosing a mode for types of colour blindness and making fishing easier by only pressing the button when the fish is angry rather than constant button mashing to reel the fish in are positive traits of Fae Farm. The story book nature with the various chapters does not have to be rushed, quests can be ignored for a while if all that is desired is to tend to the farm and gather up lots of supplies. Not every plant can be harvested from the start, some need tools to be a particular level which is a fair progression of skill upgrades. There are job quests unique to particular people that reap beneficial rewards once completed and there are many of these. There is usually no reason to rush through the main quests, naturally players will enjoy some of the tasks more than others which leads to excelling in those. To benefit from all job rewards it is best to eventually take on most tasks and level up skills equally, but if there really is an area that is disliked (like fishing), it is possible to only do it when required for quest items.

Seasonal changes include different creatures being collectable, different items on the beach and different types of berries. Unfortunately, crop seeds are the same all year round. Despite having a letter stating that summer seeds can be bought at the seed shop, they cannot. Instead, a special formula must be bought and poured on the ordinary crop seeds of turnips, cauliflower and beans that then have a chance of changing the crop into a seasonal or magical type such as a carrot from a turnip seed. This kind of detail seems odd - farming games are known for seasonal crops and the joy of buying new crops in a new season is completely removed until later in the game when a certain piece of equipment makes it possible to craft seasonal seeds. There are the usual other items for sale like various clothes that need both money and certain materials before purchase and bag upgrades for not too much money. Most of the shops are around the central marketplace in town, making them easily accessible (unless, like for Merrit's shop, there is a bug that prevents them from existing).

One aspect of buying animals feels unique to Fae Farm in a positive way (unless more than one animal is wanted). Once an animal is purchased, it has to be walked all the way back to the relevant barn and then manually registered, rather than automatically sending the animal there on purchase. The walk is quite short and quite amusing, but not all players will like this slower approach to animal acquisition. Something everyone should appreciate though is the soundtrack. It is predominantly relaxing, with faster tempo sometimes in the mines and during key scenes. It is pleasant on general sound when played handheld, but headphones magnify the beauty of the music score, the way footsteps change depending what material the feet travel on and the tell-tale sound effects of a rare creature nearby. It is parts like these which make it worthy of being a high price point, but all the other negative elements make that price point too high compared to games of better calibre.

Screenshot for Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Adding a magical twist to agriculture certainly helps Fae Farm stand out from competitors, but unfortunately so does the myriad of glitches. These may yet be fixed in future updates, just like the latest one mended some bugs. For some, the cute vibe makes up for the aforementioned issues. It is still essentially an extremely fun life-sim, with a considerable number of quests to fulfil while sporting wings (after a set story point) and quirky characters to befriend, providing dozens of hours of gameplay for those with the patience to forgive the sometimes poorly executed parts that sorely need polishing.

Developer

Phoenix Labs

Publisher

Phoenix Labs

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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