Have you got what it takes to run a farm? Do you have green fingers?
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing ‘Family Farm‘, which is a mixture of life simulation and tycoon style game play on the PC, published by Iceberg Interactive and developed by Hammerware. The game revolves around a couple called Agnes and Alfred and their small son Arthur. As the player, you have to run a farm and keep the family at the same time. The game is set up with various levels. Lowlands gives you four stories to work through which are the basic starting point. The Highlands is more of a tough country farm where people have to work hard to make ends meet and The Manor is the hardest, where you have to actually manage a manor. The lands offer various crops, livestock and conditions and the player learns the basics on how to play, level up and use the various characters in the game. The stories unlock as you progress through the game, however if you don’t reach a required rank which is part of the game, you’ll have to replay stories.
As a young couple starting off in their first farm house, it’s small with just a kitchen and chicken coop to keep you going. The kitchen is divided into two parts, with one area for preparing food and that can be done by any number of cooks, but bear in mind it depends how many you can fit into your kitchen. Your game is gauged on your total income, expenses, net result and farm value. You’ll also be graded by your harvest, growth and happiness.
Once your characters come out of their farm house, you have to click each character to send them towards their objective such as chopping down trees, gathering apples or feeding the chickens. Each character will work to their set job until you tell them otherwise. During the progress of your game, your characters will start showing signs that they are hungry and need to be fed. Simply clicking on a character to send them into the kitchen allows them to cook some interesting cuisine from simple sandwiches to more gourmet foods from the menu. Once it’s cooked, a plate appears and you can send them to consume their meal after which they will be happy and stop complaining about not having enough ketchup. The game progresses through all the seasons, so in spring you can send your characters off to prune an orchard, pick berries or gather eggs. You’ve got livestock to tend for too, who will need attention from being fed to being sheered. Your first season revolves around keeping your family happy, planting new vegetables and upgrading your farm kitchen. Once you have a bigger kitchen, you’ll be able to have more staff to help prepare meals for the family. Eventually over time, you’ll have new workers to come and help you on your farm, but be prepared to pay them and keep them content.
Decorating your farm with various flowerbeds and ornaments is fun and it gives you the chance to style the farm exactly the way you want it. Gradually your family will grow and Arthur your son will offer his services too and muck in. As you upgrade your kitchen there will be an opportunity to prepare different meals for your family and workers, which will see them working more productively, although some meals take longer to cook than others.
Family farm features 10 life stories and it’s not always easy to fulfil the requirements of some stories first time round. You can choose to carry on through the seasons or move on. Players are given a projected outcome to fill and the seasons are forever changing, which means you have to keep an eye on soil conditions and what people really want from the farm.
Family Farm is a fun life simulation tycoon game which offers a great deal of gameplay. There’s a great selection of customization and the on screen tutorial helps you throughout the game, ensuring you are not dropped in at the deep end. During the game, I felt a great sense of relaxation through the changing seasons and the farm like music played pleasantly in the background. Although the graphics were not greatly detailed, they were quite cartoony, they were still visually enjoyable. Taking care of the family and tending to the farm animals felt productive and during the game I unlocked more livestock to tend to from chickens to cows.
Family Farm is an ideal game for the casual gamer and provides a great selection of life stories that will entertain would-be farmers for a long time to come, offering solid game play and a laid back insight into modern farming life.