Farm life simulations are quite the genre. They all follow the same basic rules: thrusting you into the middle of a bustling small town as the newcomer, with the goal of taking your rusty, dusty farm (that you’ve happened to always inherit, for some reason) and turning it into something great. Big Farm Story follows this method beat for beat. However, as it stands in Early Access, it doesn’t bring much new stuff to the table.
Big Farm Story starts with your character returning to their home town. The consistent letters from their grandfather stopped coming in. However, the latest letter did reveal that they would be inheriting his farm. Upon arriving into town, you meet a slightly wrecked farm and a local carpenter who’s pinned under some fallen debris. After helping him out, you’re quickly thrust into a series of events that gradually introduce you to each of the other members of the town.
The characters here in Big Farm Story are likable enough and I like the cartoonish designs. But this is where my first gripes with the game begin to surface.
I’ve read this book before…
Dialogue options increase as you become acquainted with the townsfolk. The responses range from good (offering sympathy, humility or kindness) to bad (being sarcastic, passive-aggressive, or a tad rude). On the inside, I always felt like the kinder responses were the best choice. On one occasion, though, I decided to try one of the ruder responses. Ultimately, the reaction of the character I was speaking to wasn’t actually any different.
In the game’s current state, it doesn’t seem like there are any personality changes in any of the characters. Everyone treats you the same no matter what. It also seems like you can’t actually decline to do a task, which makes sense considering that’s the only way to actually make any progress.
That said, the story itself is engaging, and I am interested to see where the plot develops. There’s a lot of room for growth for our titular character, though I don’t expect to see the townsfolk themselves receive any major development. Everyone’s personalities ride on stereotypes, like the gentlemanly mayor, an old lady who runs a shop, the sophisticated doctor, etc. As development expands, however, hopefully more depth will be given to the characters and the world they occupy.
The actual gameplay of Big Farm Story is also what you would expect. For one, the whole game is controlled using just the mouse; everything is point-and-click. To move, you keep the right mouse button pressed and your character will follow the direction of the cursor. Every action is executed by simply pressing a button on-screen. One issue I recognized with the UI is that sometimes buttons will float off-screen for some reason. Restarting the game will (briefly) bring them back. I only noticed it when completing jobs at The Market, however.
Farming options are incredibly basic: cultivate the soil, plant the seeds, water them, and wait. You only need to water the crops once and they grow in only a few short minutes, so you can rotate crops very frequently. The thing is, farming itself isn’t all that lucrative. The in-game currency, Coins, are not exceedingly plentiful. Selling your crops in your Farm Box with the starter crops will net you only a few coins at the time. The real money-maker comes from completing jobs at the aforementioned Market, which still sometimes involves you selling some of your own crops.
Making money in Big Farm Story, as well as gaining other things like materials and XP points are done in three different ways. You can pick up and sell random items in the game world, complete quests (which push the story further along), or complete odd jobs posted in The Market. There are also fish in the rivers and lakes to catch. Again, just about all the mechanics that you’d expect to see in a farming RPG.
As you complete the various tasks and gain more XP, you level up. Leveling up allows you to select a new Sticker, which is like a new skill. The more Stickers you earn, the more abilities your character will have. Over time, Stickers allow you to farm new crop types and more actions, such as fishing from lakes rather than only rivers. The monotonous tasks are to be expected from a game like this. And that’s really the key thing I’m hoping to see come out of Big Farm Story.
Because Big Farm Story feels and plays exactly like any typical farming RPG, there isn’t really much to set it apart. As it currently stands, it’s just not offering more than what’s expected. You can play bigger, established games right now and get more out of them. Yes, to be fair, this is an Early Access game. However, there isn’t anything substantial to differentiate it from all the others. If it doesn’t set out to offer something more engaging that diversifies it from the pack, it’ll get lost in the fields.