Genre: Simulation, Lifestyle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: 3+
Release Date: 30.04.2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
A beauty in boredom and magic in the mundane.
There is beauty to be found in boredom and a magic in the mundane. Unfortunately, in the case of Farmer’s Dynasty, it doesn’t matter how hard it tries, it can’t satiate the same sentiments. ‘More than just an agricultural simulation’ is the tagline, and whilst this may be true, it isn’t necessarily a good thing.
To preface this review, it is worth noting that real-life and farming sims are some of my favourite. I enjoy the opportunities that they offer: I can take a laid back, relaxed approach where time is no object, yet I also enjoy setting goals for each day and grafting to get them done. There are many games new and old that offer the same thing with such heightened success that it makes perfect sense for all games to follow suit. You only have to look as far as Animal Crossing: New Horizons to see the market there is for a game where people are happy to spend 30 minutes to an hour each day collecting individual fruit from trees. Or even Stardew Valley, where players till individual squares of soil to plant a crop and tend to it over the course of a week.
It was promising, then, to watch a well-polished and inviting trailer of Farmer’s Dynasty from the team over at Nacon. Ordinarily, this YouTube trailer would be placed at the top of this page. For the purpose of this review, we have placed it at the bottom as it is rather misleading, and we hope the words shared here offer ample reason to take the scenes within that trailer with a pinch of salt.
Should and could have been…
Farmer’s Dynasty has a lot on offer – this cannot be disputed. It’s an open-world, in-depth farming simulator that blends building and construction, community relationships, and budgeting. Put simply, if all was as it should and could have been, we would be looking at a very comprehensive and enjoyable simulator. As it stands, though, it is a cash-grab title of epic proportions. So much so that there is a reluctance to dive into the finer details of this game for fear of making it sound more appealing than it actually is to play.
From the off, there is a tell-tale sign that all is not well – the loading times are far too long. On its own, this is something that can be overlooked in favour of an enjoyable and engaging experience. Unfortunately, Farmer’s Dynasty can’t be afforded this leniency. Poor visuals and even poorer performance confound the idea that this game just was not built for the Nintendo Switch. It is not uncommon for games to be this way, and The Outer Worlds is just one recent example. Developers looking to bring their games to the Switch will often prioritise performance over visuals or vice versa, but in the case of Farmer’s Dynasty, it seems neither has.
Knock it all to the ground and start again.
Movement feels sluggish and jerky, whether walking around your farm or driving about the town, and it is a permanent reminder that the game is slow and cumbersome. Safe in the knowledge I enjoy the mundane associated with farming sims, the overwhelming feeling is that tasks take too long. This isn’t just because of the aforementioned performance issues, but also because the tasks themselves are too long.
An early job is to resurrect the farm you’ve inherited by repairing the buildings. It would have been quicker to knock every building to the ground and rebuild than it would have been to repair every wooden truss of the attic in the house. To truly feel the frustration associated with this task, one would need to experience it for themselves. In short, however, it rivals any game for the title of the most anticlimactic start to a video game. You had to repair every single detail of every outbuilding, be it gaps in brickwork, glass in the greenhouse, cracks in the floorboards. I could go on…
Put the tools down and walk away.
There is a plethora of tools at your disposal, and some moments of ingenuity, but there are too many issues to make any of it worthwhile. The idea that you have to build your own scaffolding to reach some of the taller parts of the buildings is superb, but it just isn’t fun. It gets in the way, is too fiddly, and isn’t rewarding enough.
As stated by the developers themselves, the game is about so much more than farming. It is, but it begs the question as to whether it would have been better to just focus on one aspect. There is an expansive open world to explore yet waiting at the end of long and arduous journeys from waypoint to waypoint are characters and quests which are woeful. The voice acting is indicative of the game as a whole: lifeless and lacking personality. The dialogue arcs are poorly designed, and a very interesting premise has been stripped back to a game that lacks charm or enjoyment.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Farmer’s Dynasty is ambitious in design but dire in its delivery. It’s a game that could have been so much more, and, on the surface, it seemed to have learned from the games that had come before it. In reality, this is not the case and with an asking price of £39.99, I hope that the only time you waste on this game is the time spent reading this review.