Fae Farm review story of seasons stardew valley
Image via Phoenix Labs

Review: Fae Farm Made Me Feel Like Farming Isn’t a Priority

So years ago there was this The Sims spin-off series called MySims. It was a cutesy sort of life simulation that took cues from the original game, but tried to be unique and cut back a bit. As I went through Fae Farm, I couldn’t shake the MySims vibe it was giving me. From the generic character designs to presenting a world that was fine, but not exactly filled with an inviting community or memorable characters, it doesn’t stand out. It feels, in some ways, like it is forgoing the depth of other titles in the genre in the name of adding more action-game and quest elements. And sure, going through your quest checklist is satisfying! However, Fae Farm doesn’t stand out in the way Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley do due to Phoenix Labs forcing me to play how the team wanted. 

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Fae Farm begins as many farming games like Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley do. You find yourself asked to move to a new town, gifted a plot of farmland, and suddenly part of a town that immediately accepts you and wants to give you equipment as gifts. Here, it’s the land of Azoria, and the gimmick is that this is a fantasy world where some folks are fae, you can get wings, and your tools will eventually infused with magical ore that essentially cast spells to make your daily tasks quicker. That’s not to mention actually getting a magical staff and the ability to learn spells to affect the environment and help fight the monsters that appear in the dungeon mines you’ll explore. You then get to go alone or with friends to farm, fight, and explore the new realm.

phoenix labs

Screenshot by Siliconera

It’s weird how farming feels promising in Fae Farm, due to the automatic picking of equipment, but then backtracks to do things like remove staples that Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley offer. There’s no hoe. To plant anything, you need to craft beds with items like silt, mulch, sand, and wood. Didn’t procure or gain access to them yet? You can’t farm. Then when you do, the seeds are limited. There are three year-round varieties, with the potatoes locked behind a level-seven farming level. You can get seasonal crops for an extra fee, but you then need to transform those basic seeds into that. Not that it matters, because crops aren’t great in terms of money and you need to put everything on a chopping table to turn them into generic “chopped vegetables” for all recipes. Oh, even though a crop like beans, cauliflower, potatoes, or turnips is all season, they wilt and become worthless at the end of a season.

Also, the ranching elements are just sort of… there. The not-chickens and not-rabbits need no interaction. I’d forget to collect their daily drops as a result. The not-cows and not-sheep behave similarly, though you do actually need to collect milk and wool each day, then let them outside. (Also, on the Switch their movement can halt and stutter, with major frame rate drops, if too much is in an area at once.) And since you have a limited number of “slots” to sell things each day, actually shipping produce and animal products isn’t always great for getting money! It’s more for materials for other items. You’re better off mining gems, polishing them, and selling those for a couple thousand every day.

fae farm mining

Screenshot by Siliconera

Instead, the focus ends up being on playing Fae Farm the way Phoenix Labs thinks you should, rather than it being open-ended in the way Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley are. Do you want to only focus on farming? I mean, I guess you can do that, but a lot of elements will be locked away behind story quests that involve venturing through 25-floor mines to unlock collection requests. Want to decorate your farm and home? Again, a lot of the materials you’ll need for certain kinds of cosmetics will be locked behind areas you can’t reach until… you’ve gone through these 25-floor mines and done lots of mining. (Okay, not every end-of-chapter quest involves a dungeon, but most of them do.)

Among these many quests are job quests. These seem like a fun idea! You get rewards for doing things you would already do, like mine 8 pieces of copper ore or catch two freshwater fish. Except somehow, Phoenix Labs messed that up too. You only can turn in and get rewards for a job quest if you go to the person who assigns it, select that quest, and then immediately do it. Unlike other story quests, it doesn’t retroactively realize the person who is now on feyrite-level tools already mined plenty of copper. Also, when I played I was only able to set one active job quest at a time. So you can be doing all of these actions that would earn you rewards like food and cosmetics in a single day, but you don’t get any of them unless you’re doing this inefficient back-and-forth.

fae farm flirting story of seasons stardew valley

Screenshot by Siliconera

But I’m most disappointed in how lifeless the town and it’s characters feel. Fae Farm is a very soulless game. Conversations with townsfolk, especially love interests, are devoid of personality. None of them are particularly compelling, and this is made worse by the friend and romance side quests being shared and generic. In fact, some of the romance side quests are identical to the ones your “friends” give you. I got one involving a request for Honey Tea from Jack and Drak on the same day. Dates with love interests result in you being talked at with no opportunity for interaction. There’s little to no insight into who these people are or why you should care about them, let alone the new town where you’re living. 

An extension of that is how festivals and special events are handled. I reasoned a festival in Fae Farm would function the way ones do in Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley. Just show up, take part, and have fun. Except I got a letter from Merritt asking me to plant flowers, then make decorative items made with flowers. Except I couldn’t see any recipes in my build catalog that involved flowers as a crafting material and didn’t realize that there was an expiration date due to the color of the font in the UI for the date being a slightly different shade of brown than the background. So instead, I got a letter in my mailbox saying the Petal Bloom Festival was over and thanking me for participating… even though I didn’t get to do anything.

phoenix labs

Screenshot by Siliconera

I won’t say Fae Farm isn’t satisfying in some ways. Ticking boxes in many of the main and side quest checklists did prompt a response in me that made me want to keep playing. I did enjoy the ambiance and some of the ideas and concepts are sound. But the best way I can describe it is that it feels like Phoenix Labs decided it wanted to make a farming game, but then somehow made it feel like farming, ranching, and connecting with the community aren’t the focus of Fae Farm. I often felt it seemed like an action game that just so happens to include these farming elements as you’re engaging in crafting to head into the next dungeon.

Fae Farm will be available for the Nintendo Switch and PC on September 8, 2023.

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Fae Farm

Escape to the magical life of your dreams in Fae Farm, a farm sim RPG for 1-4 players. Craft, cultivate, and decorate to grow your homestead, and use spells to explore the enchanted island of Azoria! Switch version reviewed.

Unlike Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons, it feels like Fae Farm is prioritizing completing quests over farming and living a virtual life.

Food for Thought:
  • There will be post-launch support, which will add additional activities and characters.
  • Polished gemstones are the way to go for money, no question. And once you upgrade your pickaxe, you'll get lots of these rough versions of gems from each hit.
  • If you don't have access to your net or fishing pole once you go past the Fae Gate, that means you need to upgrade both of them.
  • You won't be able to progress through the *very cold* area through extra drinks or clothing, as progress to access that area is locked behind story quests.

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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.