In recent years there seems to have been much more of a surge on farming simulation games, some great and some not so much. Being a fan of the genre, I have had the pleasure of experiencing both ends of the scale. I was interested to see how Farm Together, by Milkstone Studios, would fare against its similar counterparts. Would it be another under developed let down, or, could it actually live up to the bold claim of being the ultimate farming experience?
After creating an avatar befitting of your personality and giving your farm a suitable name, you are ready to become a full-fledged farmer. To get you on your way you are tasked with an easy to follow short tutorial, this provides information on all the main functions you need to be aware of, and then you are free to till, sew and harvest till your heart’s content. You can probably ascertain from the name ‘Farm Together’ that the game is designed to be played with others, be that strangers or friends, however, the mechanics still work well for solo play if you so wish.
You are able to restrict who can visit your farm, if you would like it open to all or just those on your friends list. You can also define the actions they can perform when visiting your farm. Friends can be given full rights, while strangers granted permission to harvest only if you so wish. These rights can be changed at any time. One of the things that I love about this game is being able to load up my farm and just enjoy the experience with no pressure. Undertaking tasks that farm life entails with no time limits is a nice, relaxed way to play.
There is a well-timed day and night cycle and fortunately no requirement to sleep. Seasons also cycle every 17 minutes, this allows for the sewing of different crop types that are only available in certain seasons. Thankfully, crops planted in a certain season do not die as the cycle continues, and continue to grow until ready for harvest. Crop maturity is timed and mostly ranges between 10 minutes – 2 days, this can be accelerated a little by watering, although some crops still take a long time to reach their peak.
I found that either sewing the longer timed crops and returning the next day, or, having multiple farms to keep momentum, helped keep things fresh when repetition became an issue. The leveling system has a few too many components, it is not a game breaker but would definitely benefit from some simplification. Through general farming and task completion you are able to level-up your character. The rise in character level provides new clothing options, tractor designs, emotes, and pets.
Through the same system you are able to level-up your farm. Your farm level grants access to items such as new crops, trees, fish, animals, buildings, and decorations. Within this, crops, fish, animals, and trees, also have their own levels which can be raised simply by harvesting. Alongside all these upgrades, the farm boundaries can be expanded, and when expanded fully, provides a farm that is pretty extensive. Much like the leveling system the currency system has an over complicated array of components such as coins, diamonds, medals, and tickets.
Coins are earned through farming, diamonds through the sale of harvested materials, medals are earned through the completion of tasks, and tickets can be acquired by completing household jobs. Each of these open up the purchase of new items, however it feels a little convoluted and would benefit from a simpler system. With no ultimate goal other than leveling your farm to max capacity, gameplay may also start to become a little repetitive over time.
The game optimizes performance in quite a clever way, as your farm grows in scale and you add more and more elements, there is a risk of encountering slow down issues. To combat this, the game hides distant objects and they seemingly grow from the ground on your approach. I didn’t find that it took anything away from the feel of the game and almost blended as more of a feature rather than a fix. This even provided an amusing moment when one of my chickens was launched sky-high as a coop I placed grew into focus. Surprisingly, this was the one and only ‘bug’ I encountered, and overall, gameplay was very smooth.
The graphical experience is a joy, luscious green landscapes and cute animals (I was amused to see this even included – Alpacas) adorn your farm and the game really is very aesthetically pleasing. I always appreciate games that include character creation, and the cute customizable avatars within Farm Together are a nice touch. Especially with the ability to unlock extra clothing items and accessories through leveling-up.
The background soundtrack is understated but in the best possible way, it is non-intrusive and only adds to the overall experience. Often the soundtrack to this type of game ends up being a relentless loop that has a negative impact on the enjoyment of the game, happily this is not the case with Farm Together. The rest of the ambient sounds are all very well implemented and the total audio experience is very pleasing.
Putting some of the slightly convoluted mechanics aside the overall game is relatively easy to pick up. With no limits or time restrictions, the all-round experience is relaxed and enjoyable. You may choose to spend as much or as little time as you like farming, but it is very easy to lose track of time. Time also advances when you are offline, so there is always a harvest to come back to. Due to its slightly repetitive nature I am not sure it’s a game that I will revisit on a daily basis. Having said that, I did enjoy the experience and I most certainly will be back for more.
The game’s hands-off approach allows for a more relaxed and carefree affair, which is massively refreshing when we consider the current farming trend that tends to favor realism and constriction above all else. Putting its slightly convoluted mechanics aside, Farm Together offers a relatively light-hearted and fun experience that, although repetitive in the long run, manages to stand tall and firm.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.