Get away from it all with Farm Together, a farming game with real-time countdowns, allowing you to dip in-and-out of your farmstead efforts.
Farm Together, by Milkstone Studios, looks like a cuter version of Farmville, as though somebody wanted to take the classic PC version, make it better, and have you roam around a huge, almost never-ending farm. You’ve got a lot you can do with your plot of land, but it does take quite a bit of time to really get the game going.
Starting Farm Together, you are presented with some options to customise your farmer and then pick a farm type. There are a few options: A general farm that has a bit of all land, a water filled farm, one that mainly hills or mainly flat. Once you have picked your plot its procedurally generated are you’re plopped down onto it That’s when the tutorial starts.
The tutorial in Farm Together leaves a lot to be desired. It starts basic, by telling you to plant different plants and water them. These instructions are easy to follow until it gets to quests. A lot of Farm Together is based on these quests — they give you one of the four types of currency within the game. You are assigned some story based quests talking about people you will never see, as well as given a weekly quest that everyone playing can take on to specifically unlock special clothing and decorations. The first quest I was given, after a tutorial request of ‘Do some quests’, required fish. Nowhere within the tutorial had explained fish, so I went about doing all of the other bits of the quest; growing crops and harvesting trees already on my plot.
At the edge of my farm, I could see another plot nearby which had water on it. I figured the fish would be there, so I attempted to purchase the plot but wasn’t a high enough level. Confused, I started googling the answer. As it turns out, you can just purchase fish and place them within your farm, creating plots of fish. I just sort of wish that this was explained in the tutorial, as I feel I would have benefited greatly and got through the tutorial much faster.
Once this tutorial is finished you unlock a tractor, which is the biggest takeaway from the tutorial. The tractor allows you to move across your farm at a greater speed and plow a grid of 9 places at once, really speeding up the time you need to spend making your farm. When it comes to the various plants that you can grow within your farm, there are a few types. Most of the plants you are dealing with grow on plots in the ground and can only be harvested once, and take a variable amount of time to grow depending on the plant.
You see, in Farm Together, there isn’t a limited energy pool or a house for you to go sleep in at night, instead everything has a real-time, life-speed timer that you are waiting to tick down, in order to harvest them.
Other plants can be planted and harvested once they grow — without having a plot and without disappearing afterwards. Animals need to be fed regularly to force their timer to go down, and fish ponds need to be left alone until they are ready to be fished. The plot-based plants that you have on your farm can be sped up by watering them — specifically watering them when the plant calls for water will cut a large amount of time off the growing period if it is the right season. Seasons last 17 real-time minutes and are shown throughout an entire day. Some plants’ timers only go down in their specific growing season, leaving them frozen in seasons they do not grow in. Watering a plant out of their season does not actually help the time go down at all.
Because of this timer-focused way of growing, the game itself is very slow paced. You’ll spend a lot of time waiting around if you aren’t constantly planting quick plants to gain more money. Speaking of money, a lot of the plants don’t actually give you a lot back at first. Considering it takes ten gold to get a plot of land ready, and then fifteen coins to plant lettuce, for example, getting thirty coins after waiting ten minutes doesn’t feel very fair. You can slowly level up these plants, giving you one extra coin for each new level, but it does take quite some time before they feel worth it.
There is more to fill your plot than just plants and animals, you can purchase little stalls that, I guess, sell the items you have in your farm to other people. There aren’t any other people on your farm, but after the stall’s timer has ticked down, you can harvest them for XP and some of a gem currency. The timer for all of your various plants, stalls, and animals does continue to tick down when you are offline, allowing you to dip in and out of the game here and there, if you enjoy that sort of thing.
Another odd feature of Farm Together is the inventory system. This isn’t ever explained in the tutorial, however, it seems like you can only hold a set amount of produce, but if you still keep harvesting produce then you still get money — it just doesn’t go in your inventory. This inventory seems to only put stuff within the stands, so if you don’t have the correct number of items within your inventory, your stalls timer won’t go down.
Once you have leveled up enough and saved enough, you can end up grabbing your own house. A house is a pretty good thing to have on a farm, as it feels really weird having to live on a farm without a place to live. These houses allow you to purchase furniture and items for the inside, as well as follow various steps to building furniture and completing tasks within the house.
There are so many different currency systems in Farm Together, it feels like the game was made for microtransactions but that they just removed them for the Xbox Version that I played. As previously mentioned there are the gold coins which are used for purchasing seeds and trees, plowing land, and gained by harvesting. There are also gem-based currency that seems to be given through stands and quests, which then can be used to purchase more stands and decorative items for your farm. There are ribbons, which are given out through quests only, and can be used to purchase premium stalls that normally give you an item (the first example of this is your gas station for your tractor — the only place you can get more gas to continue using it). Once you have your house, you’ll be gaining tickets for furniture purchasing as well.
After playing a lot of hours of Farm Together, mainy of which was just letting the game slowly tick over on its own, I am not really sure how I feel about it. It’s a very calm, very slow version of farming that doesn’t seem to reward the player as much as I’d like it to. A lot of the farming feels like the coins aren’t worth it, and most of the time I was just waiting around or coming back to the game after a set time ended to harvest some crops. The music itself is very relaxing, the graphics are good, and the procedurally generated plots do add a bit of wonder as you look off into the distance, especially as they allow you to play with items you might not have unlocked yet.
I did not get the chance to play together with another farmer, as Farm Together doesn’t have local multiplayer and instead only allows you to play online with someone else who has the game. I feel that if you use your Xbox to watch Netflix, and feel like dipping in and out of a farming game occasionally then it’s probably worth setting up a farm. Just don’t expect to sit down and farm for a few hours, as you will spend a lot of time just waiting for crops to grow.