[Preview] Fae Farm – A first look at Phoenix Labs’ enchanting life sim
Posted on December 25, 2022 by Elias in Previews, Switch eShop
Phoenix Labs recently hosted a preview event for their upcoming Switch-exclusive Fae Farm. As only the second game from the developer, it takes a drastically different approach than the team’s first hack-and-slash monster slayer Dauntless. Coming from frantic combat and vicious creatures, Phoenix Labs instead chose a more relaxing and winding experience. Aiming for “cozy,” the mark has been hit fairly well, as upon joining the event I saw the players simply wandering their farm and watching butterflies meander along the fields.
As a player who has logged hundreds of hours in games like Rune Factory 5 and my personal genre-favorite Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, I can safely say that I immediately recognized what was going on in a game like Fae Farm, and was happy to see what the team had in store for their preview event. Fae Farm is a “cozy” game, akin to titles like Animal Crossing or Spiritfarer, but it is unique in its magical flavor: fairies, wands, and spells are aplenty here.
The game is a Switch-exclusive title for up to four players arriving in Spring 2023, and to say that I am chuffed about it is an understatement. With a beautiful and colorful farm, a bustling town, and a magical flair, Fae Farm has a bit more whimsy than most farming sims. With crafting and farming systems, most players will feel right at home, but what I found most interesting? The interior decorating. Your home will have a coziness score, and this score impacts impacts stamina and ability regeneration as time passes in the game. As the player collects furniture and items for their home, they can increase the score which will give them a big upper hand. After all, the more quickly your stamina regenerates, the more work you can do and the more money and items you can collect!
Fae Farm is not all farming and home building, though. There are many fish to be caught, dungeons to explore, and townspeople to get to know, but the best aspect, honestly, is how quickly and easily you can play with your friends and loved ones. During the preview event, the multiplayer aspect really stood out. The team showed off how players can drop in and out of sessions easily, choosing to go help a friend or continue their own story. As a person who plays Stardew Valley on Switch, multiplayer can sometimes be an interesting affair full of lag spikes and frame stuttering, but Fae Farm seems to have none of the connectivity issues despite being a more robust 3D title. Granted, this isn’t Phoenix Labs’ first foray into multiplayer. Their first game was Dauntless, a free-to-play action RPG akin to Monster Hunter – which may be a far cry from a cute and cozy farming sim, but proves that the talent definitely knows what they are doing.
Now don’t worry, that’s not to say there won’t be action or combat, the dungeons in game won’t let you get away without a few scuffles, but alongside friends the challenges are definitely doable if you’re not comfortable solo. There is a lot to explore in the dungeons, and you’ll come back with material for crafting. And just like in other games, players can split off and do their own thing. So if the dungeons scare you, maybe call in a friend. If you’re bad at fishing or bug catching, I promise you someone else can help pick that up. This game is designed for you to work together.
Any game that allows me to fish has always sucked me right in. If their fishing experience is a good one, I’ll be quite happy. The first time I fished in a game was Breath of Fire 2 on the SNES, and then again in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on the Game Boy. I have always been, er, hooked, you could say, but only mini-game fishing. Pro Bass games? Pass, that’s too much. Modern titles like World of Warcraft do not have robust fishing mini-games. Fae Farm’s is definitely not robust. It is simple. It is fun. It is something anyone can do. I will probably end up fishing for way more hours than I should, and that is completely okay to me. Eventually I will move on to catching bugs like a proper gamer. Eventually.
There are seasons, and areas to discover. There are crops to grow, a story to follow, and many many tasks to complete and items to make. Azoria is a beautiful place, and restoring it to its deserved glory will take a lot of time and a lot of efforts. A burden shared is a burden halved, or even quartered, though. Do not discount the value of having friends or family stop by to help!
Fae Farm may not be making waves and changing up systems, it doesn’t seem like that’s what its really meant for. The team’s love and dedication to their idea was to make a world you could explore at your own pace alongside your friends. This game is not to go and destroy monsters and progress as fast as you can, no. Fae Farm is for relaxing. Fae farm is for a night on the couch with your kids and/or your partner(s) where you can all work together on something fun, but kick it solo if there’s something you want to do. Everyone contributes. Everyone has fun.
What truly sets Fae Farm apart from other games like it? The flavor, for sure, is appealing, but the game focuses more on ease of access and fun for groups. An example being that farming is a more streamlined experience. Those of us used to having to switch tools won’t have to worry about button combos and menu navigation. Fae Farm will swap you to the right tool for the job with a single button press, every single time. Fae Farm wants you to play it, it wants it to be an easy introduction, and it wants you to fall in love with its charm.