Bloody hell – Farming Life was one of those simulator games where you’ve inherited something from your grandfather. While I had an inkling it might have been the case, reading it during the introduction had me slightly miffed that this ‘driving force’ is seriously overused in this sort of game.
It’s trivial, though, as this game from Pyramid Games, Gaming Factory and Ultimate Games is pretty good. Yes, you’ve inherited a bit of land, and you’ve given up visits to Starbucks and the Apple Store to be in the outdoors with your hand firmly up a cow. Well, it’s not that kind of game, but there’s a bit of hard grafting going on.
I wasn’t a fan of the more recent trailers for Farming Life, what with it sped up like a voxel version of Benny Hill. Still, as you can speed up time in the game, I suppose it accurately portrays how you will manipulate your farming skills to enter the latest contest or sell products in town to afford that super-duper tractor. As long as you level up, mind.
Farming Life Review
My experience with the game was mostly positive as the tutorial was well balanced – neither too short nor drawn out, and you learn the fundamentals that you’ll genuinely be using in the game. As for progression, it moves at a natural pace, so there’s never a moment of feeling overwhelmed.
It all begins once you’ve secured your land and grown your first crop. Crops have multiple uses – the obvious being to sell at a profit, but as touched upon, you can enter contests by completing challenges within a set time to earn some pennies and XP. Both work hand in hand to beef up your land.
Though your starting land is generous, you will want to expand in Farming Life and to do that; you complete the above objectives then pay for planning permission at the local town hall for a larger area. This interaction with the town is very good as it will be your hub for growing, hiring new staff, selling and buying goods that include stock and vehicle bling.
Not So Square
I wasn’t blown away by the visuals, and this particular style has been used in countless titles that I won’t rattle off. Equally, the colours and textures were a bit tacky and took a bit of getting used to, and a little too bold for my eyes at times. But that brings the ultimate counter-attack from the intuitive design.
Building and interacting in Farming Life is easy as running your own farm. Erm… for starters, everything is drag and drop, so if you want to build a crop or livestock area, you hold at one point and drag to the desired shape and size, then release. Before that, there’s an action wheel where you select demolish and hold the left mouse on trees to clear an area. It’s all so easy to navigate.
While it’s easy to move about and the overall UI is intuitive, there’s a lot of clicking when workers aren’t automated. Click on the vehicle, click the icon, click the town, click the icon, click out of the vehicle, pick this up, take it here… and so on. It was pretty exhaustive at the number of commands you need to give in these situations, and the same applies to the well-being of your animals and staff.
Click Here To Rest
Workers are a little easier than the animals as you can build areas for them to rest, such as quarters or even a simple bench to put their feet up. The pets and livestock were a little more involved as they need your support to get anything done. It’s easy to assign a worker a task, and the AI is good enough to leave them to their own devices, but if you don’t keep your animals satisfied, you’ll run into problems.
Like a needy Tamagotchi, you have to feed, pet, clean and heal animals. For livestock, you need them healthy to flog on/butcher (sorry kids, that’s what happens to Thumper in real life). Still, for the domesticated animals like cats and dogs that are your cheap security force, you have to ensure their ‘morale’ is good to keep up patrols. Interrupting your task to click through manually can be annoying if you don’t have enough staff, but that’s what goes into the upkeep of a farm, init?
But that brings us back to the automation side of things, and Farming Life flourishes here. I began expanding my grounds and hiring new folk to help me win competitions and earn more dough to buy new gear and more staff. At the end of each day, you’ll get rated compared to other farmers, and this is a nice little incentive to make sure you’re profitable to keep up with the (farmer) Jones’.
If You Plant It…
Farming Life is a pleasant surprise as, again, the trailer and some of the screenshots weren’t entirely doing it justice. It’s not the best looking of games – that’s a voxel thing, but I didn’t like the colours and textures much either – but the user-friendliness of it all is decent.
Farming games have earned a lot of tract(or)tion these past few years through several big titles – mostly indies – and Farming Life rides that wave of… erm… radishes, and does a good job. While it might not win over all the Stardew Valley fans, it has enough to engross those who like these slice of life sims without bombarding you with nonsense.
It’s arguably one of the most accessible, has a fair amount of charm, and you may find yourself being swallowed into this little world of agriculture and enjoying it more than you think. And the price? An absolute steal. Check it out on Steam, ya country bumpkin.