Farm Craft is a casual-oriented business and farming simulation that has you trying to complete various hands-on objectives to save struggling farmsteads from being bought out by the ruthless AgroCorporation. The game is divided into a series of 12 levels, with comic-book style intermission sequences introducing the latest predicament you must overcome.
A Hard-Working Gal
You play as the hard-working Ginger, who looks suspiciously like World War II icon "Rosie the Riveter." Ginger will actually dig into the soil, sprinkle seed, fill watering cans and spread fertilizer at your command. You can dig just about anywhere you want on a given stage, too, which is a nice touch.
The animation is first rate, but the perspective is extremely close to your character. On one hand, it lets you admire the cartoon-like visuals. On the other, it restricts your view of the farm, forcing you to scroll over several screens to see your land. Unfortunately, the camera remains locked into the same position, so what you see is what you get.
Spreading Some Love
The gameplay involves visiting multiple farms in the region, each needing some assistance to get the family-run business back into the black. While one stage has you trying to earn a specific amount of money, the majority of your time will be spent on completing other goals.
Strangely enough, you won't know your next goal until after you complete the first one, so there's no planning in advance. While there's technically a time limit (represented by a horizontal bar), there's no penalty if you don't finish your objectives before it expires -- you just won't win an award.
The goals you'll encounter include selling x-amount of vegetables or fruit, planting specific crops, building certain structures and so forth. Maintaining your crops involves fertilizing the soil and adding water. Failing to keep your crops watered and fertilized will result in plants wilting and then dying.
After a set amount of time, your crops will be ready for harvest, which involves picking and placing them into a basket by hand. Each basket holds four of the same type of items. Once filled, you must drop the basket off at a nearby barn or similar structure to receive payment. You can then use your money to buy more supplies.
The first six levels offer little challenge and will each take roughly ten minutes to complete. Subsequent levels become far more involving, lasting anywhere from one to two hours, as you'll be doing things like feeding pigs, chickens and cows to collect piglets, eggs, and milk, respectively.
There will be buildings to purchase, such as a refrigeration facility to keep honey and eggs fresh, or a greenhouse to store flowers. There's also helpful equipment to spend money on, such as automatic sprinklers that will keep nearby crops continuously watered. You can even hire gardeners and crop pickers to help maintain your farm as it expands.
While workers can be a big time saver, you can't actually assign them to work on specific areas. The picker is generally helpful since he frees you from the constant need to be plucking fruit off trees or pulling carrots.
Yet he will sometimes start picking things you specifically need to feed the pigs or chickens, for example. He will then return his haul to the barn, earning you cash but increasing the time you might have to wait until certain crops grow back. The workaround is simply to plant plenty of certain crops so there's no interference.
Fresh or Foul?
In addition to an adjustable camera and option to assign priorities to workers, Farm Craft could use a few other tweaks. It would be nice, for instance, if Ginger could automatically pick up a basket when you click on a crop to harvest. Instead you'll have to walk over to the basket, grab it, and then walk back over to the crop you want to collect.
It would be even better if "super basket" upgrades were available so you could hold more than four vegetables, fruit, or flowers at any given time. There's also no automatic payment system in place for your staff, so they are constantly walking over to you so you can pay them their $100 fee. Sometimes they stray off to different parts of the farm, standing idly by while you are busy tending to other matters. Has no one heard of direct deposit?
Yet by far the biggest issue with Farm Craft is the lack of any play options outside of the 12-level campaign. Why isn't there a free play mode that lets you build a farm to your heart's content? More livestock, plants, crops, and equipment would have also been welcome, either as unlockable bonuses or sold at the store once you've completed certain milestones.
Had the developers added a few more modes, tweaks and customization features, Farm Craft could have easily put its crop-cultivating competition to pasture.As it stands, it truly is "charming farming" as the promotional materials suggest, offering striking, colorful visuals and a no-pressure atmosphere that make it a great first game for those curious about farming titles.