For some reason, I have always liked farming and construction simulation games, despite their obvious flaws. So when a new early access title says it wants to break down gender stereotypes, I’m interested! According to the press release, the objective is to provide as complex a life simulation as possible, with elements from role-playing games, such as quests and large-scale tasks, for both regular and novice players.
The story begins with dialogue with an NPC and your character, whose appearance I unfortunately could not configure, about how he has inherited his recently deceased grandfather’s old farm. Coming from the city, he doesn’t know much about being a farmer, but has the opportunity to ask questions.
ENGINEER OR FARMER?
The first tasks take me far from the fields and animals, so much so that I wondered for a moment if I had started the wrong game. As Grandpa didn’t do a very good job of maintaining his farm, which is falling apart, repairs are needed before anything can be done.
By default, our character knows how to erect scaffolding and repair most surfaces, whether they are made of wood, brick or concrete. To do this, simply get close enough (this is where scaffolding is essential), then click one to four times depending on the number of points displayed. The appearance changes with each click, until the final repaired appearance is reached. But a failed click on an adjacent surface resets the state of the previous surface.
What I thought was a very practical feature is if you left click , it will display in red the parts of the building that still need to be repaired. This is essential for buildings that are more convoluted than others, especially for the farmhouse, which needs to be renovated inside and outside, and which has many rooms to check.
The store also offers building materials to renovate the building, concrete, varnish for wood, tiles…. I particularly appreciated the latter to finally cover the roofs of my buildings which, until now, were covered with simple wooden boards (which would have been a problem once winter came). In addition to improving the overall appearance, this is supposed to increase its effectiveness (but it is difficult to judge in game).
Once my farm has been renovated, many people in the region appear to have the same concern. In order to obtain agricultural equipment, and incidentally to make money to buy the seeds, quests ask to help them renovate their farm buildings: greenhouse, garage, stable, henhouse…. And here we go again and again, more and more engineering tasks on buildings that are all very similar.
After a few hours of play, things finally change. The farm is repaired and operational, and the quests have allowed me to get machines in exchange for my skills as an agricultural machinery engineer. I have a plough to plough my field and a machinery to aerate the soil. The sower allows me to sow different seeds (cereals and corn). The spreader fertilises my crops (fertiliser or manure) and the harvester, equipped with the right cutting head, harvests my crops once they are grown. I can also make bales of hay in the wheat field to feed the animals.
Overall, the machines are easy to operate, with a limited number of options (switch on and lift/lower). Nor is there too much physics that requires you to aim a tractor hitch to the nearest millimetre, or that causes a trailer to tip over as soon as there is a dent in the road.
The harvest is kept in a farm silo (silo that accepts only one type of seed), or is resold (mandatory from the moment more than one type of seed is planted). There are two buyers in the region: an organic mill in the south that buys wheat much more expensive than the others, but which is also very far away, and the basic silo that buys all the cereals at a low price, with the advantage of being close to the farm.
The farm can accommodate animals: I bought 3 chickens and 2 cows. It must be dealt with at least once a day, an alert is displayed on the left of the screen when you wake up and thus avoids forgetting them. Milking cows, collecting eggs… all these are ways to get food that is prepared on the kitchen stove to be sold for more.
Finally, there is the greenhouse, in which various vegetables grow (currently I have tomato and pumpkin plants) which require constant watering. A gauge displays the value and must be checked manually at least once a day to make sure it stays green.
On the other hand, continuing to act as an engineer is sometimes just as profitable, especially since during this time workers can be hired to take care of his fields, at a lower price than what my character will be able to collect by helping the neighbours.
JUST A HINT OF RPG
The role-playing component is very light at the moment, even if we see attempts on this side. Quests appear and disappear during the night, NPCs walk around and sometimes gather in a semblance of life (which forces us to chase them, especially if it is a NPC giving a quest), wild animals walk around… There is even a simulated “survival” character management with an inventory and two gauges to monitor: sleep and hunger.
This is really very light, for example, I have only seen a very limited number of quests. It could be as simple as bringing back x tomatoes, bringing x pumpkin soups, ploughing a field or transporting a particular object. And the character’s needs are easily met: the bed is never far away and food is available in abundance once the farm is repaired (if only with the hens’ daily eggs).
A “relationship” system has been put in place, offering points for each positive interaction with a resident of the region. On the contrary, destroying a neighbour’s field will cost points. These points are then used to obtain discounts from merchants when purchasing new agricultural machinery or new fields.
Finally, there is a map, with a fast travel system in the form of bus stops. But, as there was no bus at the stop, the character was immediately teleported to his destination. Even if it’s much faster, I must admit that I would have liked to see the vehicle arrive and get in it.
The game is still only in early access, let’s not forget that. As it stands, Farmer’s Dynasty is quite similar to traditional farm simulations, but does not offer the diversity of agricultural machinery of some competitors, which, thanks to agreements with manufacturers, offer a more realistic approach. The lack of diversity is also reflected in the number of quests or the number of building models. Quite quickly, the days are similar, and it gets a little boring. Milking cows, collecting eggs, adjusting the greenhouse’s hydrometry, ploughing a neighbour’s field, eating, sleeping… And here we go again. In addition, there is no sandbox mode, to play without any money constraints.
However, the game feels fluid. I didn’t encounter any particular bugs at all. If you have the patience to go beyond the first hour of slow play, you can have fun for at least ten hours, or even much more if, like me, you want to have the most beautiful farm in the region!