Games like “Harvest Moon” and “Farmville” have done very well for themselves. They appeal to a wide range of people and are fairly easy to play. “Harvest Moon” is a moderately deep farming sim while “Farmville” is more about mindlessly clicking on fields and livestock in order to gain experience and increase in level. “Goodfolks” is a good mix of the two, tasking the player with building a successful farm by managing resources and completing quests. Before we take a closer look at the game itself, I’d like to thank Martin Procházka for sending me a review copy. While the game is about a week away from officially being released, everything you’ll see in this article represents the final product save for any last minute patches.
Starting the game for the first time will put your through a tutorial right from the start, bypassing the main menu. The tutorial will show you the ropes as far as planting crops, harvesting crops, cooking, and feeding your farmhands. You’ll also be shown how to pause and speed up your gameplay. The game is played over a series of days, which pass in real-time at an accelerated rate. Fast forwarding for the majority of the day will make it go by in about a minute or two in the real world.
Once you have gotten through the first day, the main menu will be available when you start the game, allowing you to create up to two new profiles (on top of the one the game created for you from the start) and adjust game options. This menu also appears in between days, providing you with a safe way to quit or change profiles without losing your progress. Quitting midday will erase your progress for that day, but luckily the days aren’t that long. As far as game options are concerned, you’ll be able to adjust screen resolution, toggle fullscreen, enable or disable the tutorial, adjust sound levels, change the language, and more. I didn’t have any difficulty with the menu system and it was easy to access at all times.
The game itself starts you off small, but you’ll quickly be on your way to creating more things as you gain experience and level up. For example, you’ll start off with one farmhand and the ability to grow a few vegetables. Assuming you keep your farmhand fed and your crops in good shape, you’ll attract another farmhand to assist you in day-to-day activities. Growing crops takes time and you’ll need the extra hands to keep up with the tasks as they present themselves.
Cooking is an important part of the game as you’ll need to keep your farmhands fed. They each have an energy bar that depletes as they perform tasks, and they’ll stop whatever they are doing if they get hungry. Food provides a way to increase their energy bar and can provide happiness. Happiness is measured via a separate XP bar and when it fills, another farmhand will move into the area to assist you. Cooking food requires ingredients and after a while, you’ll have quite a few recipes to choose from. Some recipes like bread are easy to make and provide a fair amount of energy, while others like apple pie provide high happiness and energy at the expense of a lot more ingredients.
How does one grow the crops you’ll need to cook the food? The area you’re given comes with a number of available fields. You’ll be able to pick and choose what crop / animal you’d like grown / raised in those fields. You can assign the first six fields to vegetables and grain, the next six to animals like cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens, and the next six to various fruit trees, just to name a few examples. It’s up to you in regards to how they are organized, though keep in mind that they need maintained and the more you have, the more work that will be required to keep them all ship-shape.
As you level up, you’ll gain access to different crops to grow and animals to maintain. The basic crops you start out with yield little, but require nothing in order to plant them. The more advanced crops require some sort of investment, but yield a much higher return. For this reason, it’s important to keep track of your inventory so that you aren’t running out of a key crop. For example, if you’re running low on grain, you may want to hold off on the more advanced crops that require grain to plant until your stock goes up. Chickens require grain on a regular basis and keeping them fed is obviously an important thing. Inventory management is essential as you increase in level and gain access to more animals and crops, though you can always sell surplus items for money if you think you can afford to do so.
To assist you with the craziness that occurs mid/late game is an intuitive interface that lets you keep track of a number of different things. The bottom left hand corner of the screen will keep you apprised as to how many idle farmhands you have as well as how many tasks are pending. You’ll also be able to see the number of hungry farmhands and animals you have, which you obviously want to address as soon as possible to keep things flowing. What’s more, you can click on those buttons to zoom to the next idle worker / task / hungry entity. The interface doesn’t inform you of items dropped as the result of production and it doesn’t tell you when there’s a field (and etc.) waiting for you to choose what item to grow, so it’s important to keep an eye out every now and then. The top part of the screen gives you access to a number of information displays, allowing you to see your quest log, inventory, stats, and meals. There are also buttons available that allow you to control the flow of time.
Overall, “Goodfolks” is a wonderful, casual game that will keep you engaged for a good, long while. It wasn’t until I felt a gnawing rumble in my stomach that I had realized that I had spent hours on the game and skipped lunch. I enjoyed managing my supplies as well as thinking about how best to proceed based on my current situation. For example, I had the task of clearing away rocks but knew that my crops would need attention soon, so I chose to keep some idle farmhands in reserve. I had a lot of fun with “Goodfolks” and to quote the sixteen year old who was walking by during my play session, “That looks way cooler than Farmville.” If you get a lot of mileage out of those free farm sims on Facebook (and similar social media sites), you’ll get just as much out of “Goodfolks”, all without that annoying mechanic where you need to wait for energy. As mentioned above, its estimated release date is in about a week (as of 11/24/12), so keep an eye out!
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Good Folks” by visiting the official website here:
You can view play sessions for this game here: