Trying to show off everything that Fae Farm has to offer in thirty minutes is a difficult task. But the developers at Phoenix Labs did their best to break down all of the farming sim’s features in a hands-off, pre-alpha demo at a Nintendo Indies event at GDC 2023. It’s been a while since the studio’s first game Dauntless released in 2019, a well-received action RPG that plays similar to Monster Hunter. And while Fae Farm is in a different genre and has a bright, family-friendly aesthetic appropriate for Nintendo Switch, I still saw some of their expertise with combat come through nicely to this game.
The pick of the crop
After the developers showed me a quick video of the character creator, which provides a wealth of customization options that will impress fans of Nintendo Switch Sports, they showed off the game’s world of Azoria. This peaceful island was once shared between humans and elves, but something has split them apart and thick purple thorns block numerous paths. By gathering enough money and materials from farming, your character may be able to discover how to remove the thorns and eventually bring harmony back to the land.
If you’ve played Stardew Valley, Story of Seasons, or other farming sims, Fae Farm will be quite familiar. You plant crops and wait for them to grow over time, collect resources by chopping down trees and mining rocks, and upgrade your tools so that farming becomes more efficient. On that front, you actually won’t need to waste time by swapping tools, as the game will automatically switch tools for you on the fly. You also need to place items you want to sell on a table in the town square instead of just dumping them into a trash bin.
As you might expect, managing your stamina well over the day will let you accomplish a high number of tasks without having to sleep early. With each new season, you’ll gain access to a different set of crops and environments will change, revealing new flora and fauna. In addition, placing the right pieces of furniture in your home will raise its coziness level, which provides substantial boosts to your character’s maximum health, stamina, and energy for the entire day after a night's rest.
In your spare time, you can fish at numerous water sources, catch butterflies and other cute critters with a net, take care of some animals like sheep, and explore the nearby town for new items. You can even manage multiple farms in different environments if you have the time and patience. The developers shared that there will be about fifteen NPCs that you can befriend in town as well, with six of them being open to flirting and dating. Raise their relationship all the way, and they might even be open to marriage too.
Where Fae Farm separates itself from the pack is its inclusion of magic. Not only is magic one of your character’s skills, like farming and mining, but potion brewing is another skill that will help restore your character’s health and energy when they choose to dungeon-crawl. Upon entering the fae realm through a portal, you’ll typically find it to be a great place for finding rare materials but it can also be dangerous. Enemies like animated statues and instruments will attempt to knock you out, so you need to be ready with a spell to deal with them.
That said, the developers say that the bosses in the game are not defeated through attacks but by feeding them a particular item. If you don’t want to worry about combat, you can brew invisibility potions to avoid enemies altogether. You’ll miss out on some loot drops, but that shouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice if you want to go the non-violent or more expedient route.
Better yet, you can easily group up with your friends to form a drop-in/drop-out party of four players for easy farming and adventuring. How you choose to cooperate depends on your group, whether that’s creating a community with multiple homes, having all four players live under the same roof, or just making a party for grinding materials and dungeon runs. Progress is determined by the host player to keep things simple. To make sure that you don’t need to worry about your friends being left behind if you choose to move ahead with the story, the game will conveniently provide a letter that will catch them up with any missing key items.
A fairy tale in the making
Taken altogether, Fae Farm has a lot of potential to become the next great farming sim. Even in its early state, it combines the depth of Stardew Valley with the lightness of Animal Crossing. Fae Farm is scheduled to release as a Nintendo Switch exclusive in late 2023. Phoenix Labs is unsure of the game’s price point at the moment and whether or not it will release a demo before launch.
This preview is based on a hands-off demo on Nintendo Switch.