Game Review | Fae Farm Retreads Old Ground
The cozy gaming genre, often associated with calm and uncomplicated gameplay, has historically been linked with women players. However, as player demographics evolve, so do expectations for these games. Phoenix Labs’ latest offering, Fae Farm, on Nintendo Switch and PC, is a prime example of how cozy games might need to adapt to meet the changing needs of their audience.
Fae Farm presents players with a life simulation role-playing game set in a fairy-tale world. The player takes on the role of a traveler tasked with restoring a distant island, infused with fairy magic. While the game’s premise sounds promising, it falls into the trap of mimicking its predecessors, failing to offer anything truly innovative.
One key aspect of cozy games is the ease of gameplay, which allows players to escape into a relaxing world. Fae Farm follows this formula but borrows heavily from games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon. While familiarity can be comforting, it also raises concerns about the genre’s stagnation. Is it time for cozy games to evolve beyond repetitive farming and obligatory marriage mechanics?
Character creation in Fae Farm offers extensive customization options, but the game’s representation falls short. The game maintains the age-old tradition of making the player character the center of attention, mirroring similar games in the genre. While escapism is a key aspect of cozy games, it’s essential to recognize that female players, like all players, seek depth and complexity in their gaming experiences.
Fae Farm’s activities, such as farming, fishing, mining, and cooking, are undeniably cozy, but they’ve become predictable and uninspiring. The game’s lack of real conflict or challenge leaves players with an overwhelming sense of familiarity, contributing to a sense of repetition.
The cozy game genre has evolved, as seen in titles like Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood and A Space for The Unbound, which explore complex themes like gender identity, trauma, and love while maintaining the genre’s soothing characteristics. These games show that cozy games can offer more than just simple mechanics and marriage options.
Fae Farm highlights the need for cozy games to adapt to the evolving expectations of their player base. While the familiar formula has its merits, players, including female gamers, are seeking more depth and complexity in their gaming experiences. Cozy games should recognize that women players, like all players, contain multitudes and are ready for gaming experiences that reflect that complexity.
The problem with Fae Farm isn’t just its formulaic approach but also its implementation of dating and marriage mechanics. These elements feel forced, as if they were added because other games in the genre included them. The dialogue and interactions with potential romantic interests lack depth, leaving players with a shallow experience that reinforces dated stereotypes about what women enjoy in games.
As the cozy game genre evolves, it should embrace the diversity and complexity of its player base. Women gamers, like all gamers, have multifaceted interests and preferences. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying aspects of traditional cozy games, it’s essential to recognize that players are capable of appreciating and engaging with more substantial content.
Fae Farm’s adherence to a dated formula and its shallow implementation of dating mechanics underscore the need for the cozy game genre to adapt to the changing expectations of its audience. Cozy games have the potential to offer meaningful and emotionally resonant experiences, and it’s time for the genre to explore new territory and challenge existing stereotypes about what women gamers want from their gaming experiences.