I wasn’t going to do PC news or reviews any more, but there was just something about Family Farm that intrigued me enough to get a review copy and you know what, I rather enjoyed playing something that, although a little like The Farm, was actually a game I wanted to go back to and play again.
It claims that it’s part tycoon, but that’s a minor element of the game, it’s more simulation than anything as you start out with a farmer and his wife attempting to meet goals, reach targets that will rate you on how well you did and be awarded trophies for completing each scenario successfully.
There are four stories in Lowlands for you to play through and complete that kind of act as a tutorial, taking you from menial tasks of feeding chickens to planting vegetables and upgrading the farmhouse all within a set time.
As you progress further, employing labourers is necessary to help build up funds and get things done that little quicker and I do mean a little as they’re unskilled, it costs more to hire them in later stories, but you do have a choice of hiring more experienced labourers, especially when you reach the Highlands.
Lowlands are the easy levels which get slightly more difficult because of having more to do each time, one thing that doesn’t change is the little annoyance of sometimes not being able to select a person when you move the hand over them.
It’s probably my Sims habit, but I spent some time seeing if I could rotate the viewing angle by pressing the wheel button, but the only thing the wheel does is zoom in and out. That said, controls are simple enough with holding right mouse button to move around the farm, left clicking to select people and then clicking where you want them to work with the option to use a few keys on the keyboard if necessary.
Once you get the hang of it, you shouldn’t have any problems making money and hiring more experienced labourers means you can go do things that aren’t a required goal to reach by planting extra crops or vegetables to make more money, especially when one of the goals is to upgrade the farmhouse to a certain level within the allotted time. Clearing woodland is also made a lot easier, another one of the goals you may need to meet in the list which you find at the top of the screen.
Talking of the top of the screen, you can click on the cash part to check on your finances, which is nothing technical, just tells you how much you have and if you owe any to the bank. After that is the to-do list and then Rank Info which informs you of how many points you need to rank up and what you will unlock once you reach the next rank.
It doesn’t take a lot to get into Family Farm and although classed as a sim/tycoon game, is more of a point and click style simulator which is rather fun to play by people of all ages. It’s a good game to get kids into this style of gaming, a kind of sim time management that doesn’t rely on too much management, more like job delegation, but the aim is to get the right people doing the right jobs so that they get done in the quickest time.
Don’t expect anything graphically spectacular, but do expect the graphics to have a nice and colourful to look like you would expect from a farm simulation. The characters range from people who live on the farm, such as the farmer, his wife and kids (who actually grow up as years pass) to labourers of different apparel dependant on their experience.
The farmland looks simple, but does the job as it doesn’t really need visuals that are very luxurious and picturesque, with sparkly special effects added for decoration. The animation is nice and smooth, something you may not expect of a game like this which doesn’t need a beefy computer to run, you could play this on most decent laptops from the last couple of years.
The sound does what it needs to by providing ambient birds tweeting, trees creaking as they fall crashing to the ground and the lovely little tune played at the end of a season while it ticks down and they go to bed ready for Spring or Summer. You’ll hear a cockerel on occasion with some other background noise, but it’s not like you’ll notice that too much while you concentrate on getting crops ready.
The gameplay will keep you going for some time, while early levels won’t take too long, the time it takes to complete all the goals can take 10 (in-game) years and that can equate to up to a couple of hours at a time. You do get the chance to stop playing at certain times and then continue later with the ability to replay it all some other time to try to beat your grades, that’s replayability, folks!
It’s worth picking up for the whole family since you could each have a profile with your own savegame, great for budding farm entrepreneurs and casual gamers alike.