Fae Farm review: All the fun of Animal Crossing, now with an actual plot

Game: Fae Farm
Publisher: Phoenix Labs
Developer: Phoenix Labs
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PC
Release Date: September 8, 2023

As App Trigger’s resident Nintendork, to say Animal Crossing was a major part of my life is a huge understatement. Like…I did pretty much EVERY guide for Animal Crossing. I wrote ALL of those and I don’t think I ever recovered.

But when Nintendo admitted they’re never going to add to New Horizons again I immediately felt the loss. I had a need and, I’ll be honest, Stardew Valley was dope but pixel art doesn’t motivate me (with the exception of Celeste; that was some sorcery how much I got into that game) so I’ve never been able to get invested just because they characters felt as flat as they looked.

Then a Nintendo Direct announced Fae Farm and I felt some hope coming back. An Animal Crossing like game only with a plot and 3D graphics. This will be decisive to my farm-sim fam but I can’t get into the art style of Harvest Moon so that was always out for me. So Fae Farm got me really excited.

But I’ve been playing it for a while now and I gotta say, it’s actually more fun than I thought it would be. Let’s get into what the game is first.

Fae Farm has you make a character. You get to pick from a multitude of various body types, skin colors, etc to make a character.

Phoenix Labs

Much like when I reviewed Pikmin, I ended up going with a thicc older guy with grey hair. No idea why.

One day your character is walking the beach when they discover a bottle with an invitation for help on an island out in the middle of the waters. Your character, who clearly has nothing left, gets on a small boat and is just like “I trust you bottle” and heads out to sea.

As it goes when people with boats don’t have plans to match, your character ends up going right into a whirlpool and ends up washing up on the shores of your destination, sans boat. And immediately you meet the mayor. Don’t worry, unlike a lot of game mayors, she’s kind and not one of the traditional farm-sim characters out to make a profit off you. Hell, her name is Merritt. I see you.

From there you’re told that the island has been having some problems. First and foremost, they need a farmer stat. So you’re given a horrifically dilapidated farm land and the mayor is like “You’re welcome!” and leaves you to it. At first I was turned off by this because cutting tall grass and clearing out random rocks didn’t just drain stamina, it straight poured it all out. But I found is that over time, the more you do anything in this game the more you gain XP and level up in a particular field. So the more I worked, the more results I’d see in a day. XP is gained at a decent enough clip where I could actually feel the difference. I appreciated that.

Phoenix Labs

What I also appreciate is that unlike Animal Crossing that has you constantly switching between tools, you have a spot that almost works like an auto tool. When your basic tool is suggested your character automatically uses the needed tool. If you’re in front of a recently planted seed, press A to take out the watering can and water it. Now go up to where the tall grass is, pressing A pulls your scythe to harvest it. When you scoot over to the tree, you get an axe. Rocks? Pick-axe. Dirt? Shovel. It’s amazing. I didn’t realize how much time I spent in Animal Crossing doing one thing at a time because I hated switching between tools.

Eventually you find out that there’s more to the island than a lack of produce. That whirlpool that made you crash? There’s a bunch of them and something unknown is causing them. So they unlock a weird door and let you explore.

That’s when you find out that Fae Farm is more than just a regular farm-sim. Suddenly you find yourself caught up in a tale of discovery. Magical beings, dragons, golems, dungeons filled with strange animated objects like clocks and anchors that are ready to fight you, oh, and you get a magic staff that you can learn spells with. It’s fantastic.

Fae Farm ends up not only filling some of the hole Animal Crossing left abandoned (though customization is FAR less in this game as you can only build on your farm and decorate the inside of your house) the addition of an actual plot and a goal made me remarkably happy. Every time I started to think I knew what to expect from the game I’d find something new. I’d clear a mine and suddenly I was meeting fairy folk. I’d move elsewhere and…is that a volcano? It’s insane.

Graphically the game is wonderful. I love the art style. The characters have different body types and skin tones to the point where I could easily get a read on their personality before even talking to them.

I did have some problems with sound though. Especially in the early parts. The characters are not voiced and, instead make a weird moaning sound when you interact with them. This lead to a bunch of weird moments in which my TV was alive with the sound of strange people making moaning sounds. It’s uncomfortable at times.

My other complaint is the writing. While I’m very happy that the game has a plot and a heart it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth. In fact most of the characters feel like they’re almost always saying the same things. When you clear out a harmful gas out of an area, all the characters just talk about how the gas is gone. Same with thorns. Same with anything else. It’s incredibly aggravating because I want to know more about these characters but their dialogue is so boring.

The only change to this is when you decide to romance (yes Virginia, there is a marriage option) one of the people on the island. There’s six characters you can romance out of all the characters. Me? I went with Pyria. A dark skinned sardonic fae you meet later in the game who’s obsessed with magical disasters. She’s antisocial, loves books, is fascinated by disaster, and I love her.


As you romance a character you’re able to go on dates where you learn about the character and some of this writing is just so damn good. At least for Pyria. That I genuinely felt a connection with the character.

All in all though, I love this game. It’s a little shallow at times but it’s also well paced. You don’t feel like you’re going to be spending several real time months slowly building things up (the game doesn’t go off a real time clock) and you almost always feel like you’re progressing in some way shape or form which ticked off all my serotonin making check boxes.

If you play this and you’re uncertain, get to the bottom of the Saltwater Mines. I’m not going to spoil why but the game feels VERY different after that. Get to it and enjoy.

Fae Farm (Nintendo Switch) Score: 9/10

A gorgeous looking farm sim that doubles as a dungeon crawling adventure game, you can spend your days farming and crafting or fighting and solving mysteries. It’s all there plus romance options. The sound design is a little odd at points and a lot of the NPC dialogue is flat, but the game’s charm and feeling of progression that occurs as you achieve more goals more than makes up for it.