A hard day’s work has never been so rewarding.
Who hasn’t once dreamt of living off the land – just getting away from it all and getting back to basics? Enter Farmer’s Dynasty: it’s the closest you’ll get to being a farmer without actually getting your hands dirty.
From the very start of Farmer’s Dynasty, you’re given the reins to your grandfather’s old farm. The game is centred around you growing your farming empire through ploughing, cultivating, seeding, and harvesting crops as you invest in more and more land.
“It’s fulfilling to see everything come together – a feeling that Farmer’s Dynasty offers in abundance”
But unlike other games in the genre like Farming Simulator, Farmer’s Dynasty is much more than a tractor-driving farming sim; it’s just as much of a life sim. There are NPCs to chat to, and you even have the potential to get married and have children. But of course, in order to live a comfortable life, you need to first ensure your farm is in order. And even though the locals have been looking after your granddad’s farm in the meantime, it’s seriously run down. Luckily, your character may not be much of a farmer yet, but he’s a great handyman and can fix pretty much anything.
Building and fixing in Farmer’s Dynasty is as easy as looking at the problem, selecting the right tool and then pressing the correct button. It’s very simple to get to grips with but can be time consuming; the farm is in quite a state after all. Before you can get started on your new life as a farmer, you’ll need to fix up everything on the land, including the house, all its rooms and the roof. The fixing up section can be a little tedious, but it’s fulfilling to see everything come together – a feeling that Farmer’s Dynasty offers in abundance.
Once the farm is fixed up, it’s time to chase the farmer’s dream. Although your grandfather didn’t actually leave you any equipment to help with the farm, the NPCs spotted around the map are happy to help out; they’ll trade their old equipment for work. In doing so, Farmer’s Dynasty helps you to learn the ropes of the game gradually without overwhelming you with too much information at once. Each individual quest will tackle one area of farming, rewarding you with a key piece of machinery, one by one. These quests can be pretty time consuming, and don’t expect to cut any corners; Farmer’s Dynasty is a life simulator after all.
“Don’t expect to cut any corners; Farmer’s Dynasty is a life simulator after all”
As you play, you’ll encounter a wide variety of NPCs to speak to, each presenting you with a range of dialogue options to choose from. Though these conversations are voiced, unfortunately the voice acting is horrendous; void of life, emotion, and feeling. It feels like Siri having a conversation with Alexa – there are moments when it is laugh-out-loud awful. It’s a serious misstep, but thankfully doesn’t ruin the overall enjoyment of the game.
But once you get through primary school pantomime-level of voice acting segments, you’ll have all the necessary tools at your disposal. Your farm is a huge sandbox, and it can take around five minutes to drive from one side to another. And that’s in a pickup truck that goes 60mph – many of your farming vehicles will have a maximum speed of 23mph. You’ll find yourself slowly crawling around much of Farmer’s Dynasty’s map, but it never feels too much like a chore; it’s the farmer’s life, which is all about putting effort in to reap rewards. It helps that map is really well laid out, with a variety of things to do and see.
The actual farming mechanics of Farmer’s Dynasty are also time consuming, but rewarding. There are four steps to getting the fields ready for you to plant crop seeds, with each step requiring you to drive around your field with a particular tool. It takes up to six minutes each step, but it’s easy to see the progress being made. Your crops take a long time to grow, but it’s hugely rewarding when they do – in terms of profit and pride. You put all the hard work in, after all.
“Your crops take a long time to grow, but it’s hugely rewarding when they do”
Of course, life on a farm is not just about fieldwork. You can also raise livestock such as hens and cows, and each morning you can grab their eggs or milk them, respectively. This creates a really nice routine to Farmer’s Dynasty, and you can also grow vegetables in the greenhouse. All of these possibilities aren’t open from the beginning of the game, but after raising some money through selling products, the options in Farmer’s Dynasty really open up.
As it’s a life sim, your character also has some needs to take care of too. You’ll have to keep an eye on his hunger level; food can be made from the products on your farm – cooking is a simple one-button process that can be accessed from your farmhouse kitchen. Likewise, your character needs sleep too. There’s even an option to sleep for a whole week if you want to skip some time. Truly living the dream.
There’s quite a bit of downtime while ever you’re waiting for your crops to grow. If you decide not to sleep your week away, you can set off to explore the world of Farmer’s Dynasty. You’re allowed to drive wherever you want – even offroad if you desire – which provides a welcome sense of freedom, but you’ll likely be drawn to the town. There’s a fair bit to see and do; there are various stores to visit, a church, and numerous relaxation spots. There are plenty of NPCs to talk to too, all of whom have a different opinion of you. By talking to them and helping them out they’ll grow to view you in a better light.
“The ‘romancing’ options feel clumsy at best, and sexist at worst”
As mentioned earlier, there’s the potential to romance NPCs in Farmer’s Dynasty with a view to getting married and starting a family. But the ‘romancing’ options feel clumsy at best, and sexist at worst. Your character is always a heterosexual male, and talking to female NPCs always gives an option to flirt with them – with some horrendous lines to choose from. Even though women who don’t know you very well will initially react poorly, you can eventually build a rapport and buy them gifts – because, you know, that’s the way to a woman’s heart.
It’s easy to excuse the gameplay system as being over-simplified, but it’s hard not to feel slightly uncomfortable with it, especially when coupled with other dialogue throughout the game. One task at the beginning of the game sees you help an NPC who commented about his wife giving him a hard time about the repairs that needed doing on his house. The only dialogue option given was “women…”. Perhaps more painfully, the game’s tooltips that appear on loading screens inform you that finding a wife is good because “they’ll cook any food you put in the pantry”.
The lack of customisation options for your character highlight the limitations of Farmer’s Dynasty. It’s supposed to be a life simulator, but it rarely feels like your life sim as your character feels very removed from you. You can’t even change his name. Being able to customise his gender and sexual preferences would go a long way into helping the game feel more inclusive and realistic, but it would have also required much more work going into the gameplay options given to you. That perhaps goes some way into explaining why Farmer’s Dynasty is so narrow in scope.
While these issues are problematic and should be taken into consideration, it has to be said that it doesn’t taint the overall gameplay experience. There’s still plenty to enjoy, even if you can never fully immerse yourself in your character’s story. The mixture of farming simulator and life simulator elements work really well. Much like real life, tasks aren’t always quick to complete and can be quite time-consuming, but that’s what makes Farmer’s Dynasty feel so realistic; it’s all about putting the hard time in to reap the rewards. The lack of customisation options, terrible voice acting and casual sexism do mar the experience, but there’s still fun to be found in starting with nothing and working hard to build your farming empire.