In recent months, I have fallen in love with farming video games. There’s something so relaxing about playing these titles, and they are perfect for sitting in front of the TV with a Netflix binge. Thankfully, in recent years, the farming genre has seen a lot of stellar titles come out, but that can also be overwhelming to new players trying to determine which title best suits their interests. Therefore, I thought that I would give a small mini-review on five of the top titles out there, giving my general impressions of the game, as well as what kind of gamer would enjoy it. Let’s get farming!
Release Date: February 26, 2016
Stardew Valley is probably the most well-known farming game out at the moment, and for good reason. Out of all of the games on this list, this game has the widest range of different activities to complete. Farming, mining, combat, foraging, and growing relationships with the town villagers are all a part of this massive game. This title is a huge time sink, with hundreds of hours worth of content, and with the recent addition of multiplayer on PC, it’s unlikely that you will ever run out of content to consume.
In my experience with the game, I found that the learning curve was rough to work with. It’s not a difficult game in the traditional sense, as there’s no real pressure or time constraints to get the mechanics down, but the game expects players to just start playing and figure it out on their own. A nice aspect of this game, however, is that there is no “wrong” way to play. In a lot of other farming games, there are clear winners and losers when it comes to which activities players should be participating in, whether it’s through what quests appear or through the amount of gold they can make. In Stardew Valley, players can make a viable living off of any and all different activities in the game, so any play style is completely fine. If you want a flexible and relaxing experience, this is the title for you.
My Time at Portia
Release Date: January 23, 2018 (Early Access)
My Time at Portia isn’t a farming game in the traditional sense, as the actual farming aspect is very minimal. Instead, the protagonist of this adventure has inherited a small workshop and is in charge of creating tools, bridges, and buildings for the residents of the town of Portia. The primary mechanics of this game are mining, fighting, talking to the residents of Portia, and gathering resources to build the requested items and make money.
My thoughts on this game are somewhat mixed. I do really enjoy the title, but I also have a few issues with it. First of all, the game is in early access at the moment, so there’s some incomplete content. Secondly, because the game narrows the focus to owning a workshop and building gadgets for the townsfolk, activities like fishing and farming are in the game, but not nearly as important or viable as in other titles. As someone who likes to vary my activities and do different things from day to day, the loop of mining and crafting my loot from mining can get tedious. The game’s world is still very open and allows for lots of exploration, so if the concept sounds good to you and you don’t want a heavy farming emphasis in your games, then this is a good pick.
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Slime Rancher is one of the most adorably cheerful games that I have ever played. The primary mechanic of the game is right in the title: Ranching slimes. There is an impressively large open world to roam filled with gooey slimes. Vaccuum the little guys up to put in corrals and collect the items they drop in exchange for gold. The mechanics here are deceptively simple, as there’s a great deal of strategy and customization that can be done in order to make the ranch as efficient as possible.
In my time with the game, I enjoyed the unique take on farming, as planting crops to feed slimes and collecting resources is still a large part of the game. Whenever the aspect of tending to my farm got tedious, however, I still had a large open world to explore. My biggest complaint was that it felt like too little of a good thing. I beat the game in about fifteen hours, and while there’s still things I can do now in post-game, I’ve explored the entirety of the map and wish that there were a few more areas to enjoy. Additionally, the game feels a little lonely, as there is no multiplayer option and no NPCs to have conversations with. Still, these issues are minor when taking into account what an amazing experience this title is. If you want a game that emphasizes farming, but you want a more unique take on the concept, then give this one a try!
Release Date: January 23, 2018 (Early Access)
Staxel is a voxel-based farming game, which means it looks like Minecraft. I have spent more of my adult life than I wish to admit in Minecraft, and I specifically love to create huge farms, so an actual farming game with a Minecraft aesthetic seems like my dream game. The big draw here is the ability of farm customization. When players want to build a barn, they are given a blueprint that gives a very basic outline like “four walls and a roof”. From there, players can build that barn with any blocks and size they want. The focal point of this game is being able to build structures, and the money made from farming is used to finance more blocks and furniture for all of the builds.
The biggest issue with Staxel is that it isn’t that interesting, which may in part be due to the fact that it is still in early access. The world isn’t very large, so there’s not a lot of exploration to be done, and none of the mechanics are all that deep except for the building. Basically, what you see is what you get with this title. If you want to do a lot of free-form building in a game that also has some farming mechanics in it, or you want to play with the new multiplayer update, then go ahead and get this. If this doesn’t sound like your thing, then there are other titles on this list that are better.
Release Date: October 11, 2018
Rounding out the five farming titles, Farm Together is the most pure farming game of anything on this list. This game, as its name might suggest, leans heavily on the idea of farming with a group of friends. The game is updated frequently, and there’s a huge variety of crops and animals to farm. While this game is quite fun, beware that the mechanics have been stripped down to make them as simple as possible. While that makes this a fun game to relax in, this will likely not be a game for players to marathon all day.
This game feels very reminiscent of Farmville with its simplistic mechanics, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Crops grow in real time, and while that can get annoying sometimes if I don’t want to wait around, it makes this game perfect for keeping up in the background while, say, writing a blog post. Overall, while this is the most simplistic title on the list, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a really laid-back and casual farming experience.
Hopefully, this post helps identify some similarities and differences between different farming games. I’m thinking of doing more posts like this, where I compare different games from a similar genre. Let me know which farming games you want to play in the comments below!