Given my week, I was looking for a game that provided just enough distraction without overly taxing my exhausted brain, so it’s simulation time, folks! This week, I’m looking at Farmer’s Life, which comes to us from simulation specialists Freemind S.A. What I got was very much not what I was looking for, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In Farmer’s Life you play a farmer named Kasimir, trying to wrest a living from the land while battling an alcohol addiction. You’ve returned home from World War II to your family farm in Eastern Europe to find your family dead and the farm in shambles. It’s up to you now to revitalize the farm and somehow keep going. In case you worried that everything was all doom and gloom, you do have Fluffy, your favorite pig, and three scraggly chickens to keep you company.
You’ll spend your gameplay trying first to survive, and believe me, there are a lot of different ways to die in late 1940s Eastern Europe. In Farmer’s Life, you can freeze to death, die of thirst, starve, succumb to your loneliness, or lose your battle against Kasimir’s addiction. Watch out for your health, too. That simple cold can turn into pneumonia faster than you can call Fluffy for snackies. Your other priority is, obviously, to farm, but Farmer’s Life allows you to explore animal husbandry, fishing, mining the woods, and generally do all of the things that you’d need to do on a farm during that time period.
On top of all of that, Kasimir isn’t alone. He’s part of a village, and you will have to make nice with your neighbors. There’s also a bully in the village who’ll beat poor Kasimir into oblivion if you aren’t paying attention.
Needless to say, I was not in any way prepared for Farmer’s Life.
Farmer’s Life offers a vast array of possibilities, and you can easily sink astronomical amounts of time into this game. There are so many moving parts, from selecting and growing your crops, to purchasing animals, or selling your wood at the sawmill. However, the concept of scarcity is built into every single aspect of this title. For most things, you’ll need to trade, but in order to trade effectively, you’ll need to participate in the game’s reputation system.
Oh yes, Freemind S.A. added an extra layer of complexity. Because the villagers aren’t the most welcoming of people, you’ll need to complete extra NPC tasks in order to curry favor with them to acquire things like cattle and other basic necessities for your farm. If ever a game taught the importance of living in a community, Farmer’s Life would be it.
While you’re establishing your trading posture with the villagers, you’ll also need to be paying attention to your farm. Farmer’s Life offers you a choice of a handful of vegetables and some cereals to grow, but you don’t begin with the ability to cultivate them. First, you have to collect scrap metal—and I tried very hard not to think about potential sources of that scrap metal—to sell in order to acquire a basic scythe. That, in turn, allows you to harvest hay growing wild on your derelict farm that you sell to finance your reconstruction endeavors.
You’ll also need to pay attention to your food and water intake while you go about your business, and eventually, you learn to craft various foods in the kitchen. You’ll of course need lumber from the nearby woods to fuel your woodburning stove, which requires an axe, which requires a trip into the village. That’s really the genius of Farmer’s Life, the emphasis on how interconnected everything is, from the tasks in which you engage to avoid dying, to how you interact with Sophie in the village shop.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the shift in the seasons because winter will be no joke. You won’t have access to your crops, so you’ll need to start stockpiling early. Any failure on your part will require you to go into town, costing precious money, or will result in game over. Your survival margins are pretty narrow, especially in the beginning of Farmer’s Life. However, you’ll find that with the seasons changing, you’ll have access to different resources, such as finding wild apples in the fall. There’s also a healthy emphasis in early gameplay on mushroom hunting.
The actual farming aspect of the title is straightforward but, as with everything else, involves lots of moving parts. You have to watch for weeds that will choke your crops, resulting in a lesser harvest than you need. You also have to monitor the fertility of the soil and supplement it with manure when necessary. I mentioned cooking earlier, and that, too, is complicated. You can adjust the heat levels when cooking in order to perfect various dishes, which increase their nutritional bonuses, but there will be a lot of trial and error on that front.
Visually, Farmer’s Life is solid, if not exactly inspiring. The NPC designs are a little rough, and they tend to stand still rather than moving around. The soundtrack won’t blow you away either, but it provides a nice counterpoint to the gameplay. I suspect you’ll find it fading into the background while you balance the incredible granular control Freemind S.A. have built into Farmer’s Life.
Farmer’s Life is one of those titles that appear to be simple at the beginning but become more complex all too rapidly, which makes for a game that you can spend a great deal of time playing, assuming you care for survival farming sims. The gameplay itself in Farmer’s Life isn’t all that complicated, but remembering all of the various irons you have in the fire will be.
Farmer’s Life retails for $12.99 on Steam until January 25th.
- Y’all. Farmer’s Life has some depressing elements. I was UNPREPARED, but for all the darkness, it offers a great deal of silly fun. Think pig-riding. I think you appreciate the comedic elements more in light of the overarching setting.
- The days feel incredibly short, especially given the amount of work you have to do. Honestly, that was a little too realistic for my comfort.
- There’s so much poo. Just. So much.
- There is, however, the opportunity to collect land mines from a field for money. That’s a thing they built into the title. Do with that what you will.