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Fae Farm is shaping up to be the coziest farming game ever

Thanks to games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, self-described “cozy games” have become much more popular. Often nonviolent and relaxing, there are whole showcases dedicated to this type of game. Dauntless developer Phoenix Labs is putting its own spin on the growing genre with its multiplayer farming game Fae Farm, which was announced during September’s Nintendo Direct.

Although cozy isn’t the first adjective I’d use to describe Dauntless, Isaac Epp, the game’s director, believes that Fae Farm ultimately achieves a similar goal to that game by going the wholesome route. “While Dauntless was a much more hardcore, high-action experience, at the heart of it, this is still about us building a game that is fun to play with the people that you love,” he tells Digital Trends.

Fae Farm - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Digital Trends got a hands-off look at Fae Farm earlier this month and came away intrigued. While farming and cozy games are a dime a dozen nowadays, Fae Farm’s comfortable aesthetic and a couple of clever design decisions make me want to give this game a shot with friends when it launches.

Cozy crops

During the hands-off demo, I saw Epp and other developers play through different parts of Fae Farm at various stages of progression. To start, we began in a quaint early-game farm with just a batch of planted crops and a small house to its name. He then did some light farming, which played similarly to most other games in the genre, although one unique feature immediately caught my attention. Typically, players have to go into submenus to switch between tools as they tend to their land in most farming games. That isn’t an issue in Fae Farm, as one button press will do.

Pressing the same button will cut down a tree with an ax or water crops with a watering can, contextually equipping itself. Players will only have to worry about equipping tools themselves if they want to use their fishing pole, net, or wand at specific locations. I also saw Fae Farm’s multiplayer in action, as up to four players can independently farm and explore simultaneously. This is also seamless, as new players who drop into a game world will be caught up with the items and story details necessary to be on the same level as their peers.

These might seem like small features, but they demonstrated how Fae Farm is meant to be an approachable and relaxing experience that wants to take any frustrating roadblocks out of the player’s way starting in just its opening moments. As the demo continued, I saw Epp accept quests from NPCs, catch bugs in a net Animal Crossing-style, fish off a bridge into a river, and do some light platforming around the game’s world.

Two players farm outside during autumn in Fae Farm.

“We really wanted to make this beautiful space where when you’re walking around, you can really see all the artists’ hands that went into making it and elevating the genre where we could,” Epp explained. “We want the whole world to feel like a play space, not just playable within rails.”

After that, the developers came upon the nearby town’s market, where they could speak and build relationships with NPCs and sell crops and other resources gathered. Soon thereafter, they obtained a wand and jumped forward to one of the game’s dungeons, where players could explore, solve puzzles, fight enemies, and collect resources. In keeping with the cozier and more lighthearted nature of Fae Farm, Epp says enemies are more mischievous than evil and menacing.

The influence of action-adventure series like The Legend of Zelda as undeniable in this dungeon segments. They should provide a nice change of pace for those who are getting a little tired of farming. Still, progressing through the game and enhancing a character’s magical abilities will make farming a little less tedious. This became clear when the developers jumped forward to a late-game farmstead, where they had advanced skills that allowed them to water more crops at once.

Wholesome homestead

Like most farming sims, exploring dungeons and tending to the homestead will require balancing the player’s health, energy, and mana daily. Players can craft potions and other items like lunch boxes to give players an extra boost in any of those three areas, though. It’s a gameplay loop as old as this farming sim genre itself, and Fae Farm looks to feature a solid implementation of that formula. After that, the developers went inside their new house, which was much bigger and more detailed than before.

A Fae Farm player walks around their home.

If you still have doubts that Pheonix Labs wants Fae Farm to be labeled as a “cozy game,” those go away once you see that items that players can place around their house all have literal Coziness stats attached to them. Players are encouraged to design their homes to be as comforting as possible to get health, stamina, and mana bonuses each morning. Those who spend a lot of time decorating in games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons will want to give Fae Farm a look.

Even though Fae Farm doesn’t look like the most revolutionary farming game, its approachable, laid-back vibe is incredibly captivating. It combines elements from games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, and The Legend of Zelda to create a chill, wholesome experience. Even though I didn’t play the game myself during the preview, watching footage of it felt homey and comfortable. As dark games about death and fallout from killing someone continue to be prevalent, Fae Farm looks like it will serve as an excellent multiplayer refresher to provide some relaxing vibes.

Fae Farm is in development for Nintendo Switch.

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Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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