Fairy Farm brings a touch of magic to the farming genre

Fairy Farm, a Facebook-based farming title from Russian developer Game Garden, was originally released back in December of 2011 but has been showing particularly strong growth in the last week or so. It’s not clear exactly what has caused this spurt, but it’s likely due at least in part to cross-promotional efforts by German publisher Plinga. The game is the No. 17 fastest-growing game by MAU this week.

The game opens by allowing players to create their avatar. This may be male or female and may take one of several different preset designs, but players are not able to take complete ownership of their appearance by individually customising elements. Once into the game, players are provided with a brief tutorial on how to water trees, plant crops and dig new flowerbeds, and are then given a stack of quests to complete which vary from “grow and harvest [x] number of crops” to storyline-progressing tasks that require players to find special items on their farm.

Fairy Farm is a beautifully-presented game. Animations are smooth, visuals are well-drawn and distinctive and there’s quality background sound. The music gets a tad repetitive, but it can be easily switched off. The characters seen throughout the game are infused with a great deal of visual personality and provide the game with a recognizable, distinctive aesthetic (even if a few are rather obviously based on characters from the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).

Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t match up to the lofty expectations set by the lovely visuals. While progression through experience levels moves along at a reasonable rate, the real-time waits for crops to grow and trees to be ready to water are painfully long, and many of the game’s quests require players to grow an unfeasibly large number of specific plants. This would be fine later in the game or as a long-term goal, but when one of the first quests the player receives is to grow 30 expensive flowers that each take a whole day of real time to mature, that’s a real problem with pacing that will drive some players away. Couple this with the fact that a lot of quests require the purchase of premium items to progress — and that some items are locked behind a friend gate requiring as many as 100 friends — and it becomes clear that this is a game in urgent need of some serious rebalancing.

It’s a shame to see this, because there are some genuinely interesting ideas on display. As well as building their farm, for example, players are able to make jewellery and brew potions, though these mechanics are not explained particularly well in the game. There are also three spaces in the game’s “My Stuff” menu which promise new systems “coming soon.” There is no indication of what these may be at this time, however.

At present, it’s difficult to recommend Fairy Farm to anyone despite its gorgeous presentation. The tasks the player is expected to perform are unreasonably time-consuming and rely too much on monetized items and gifting. The opportunity for social play with friends is generally a good thing, but ideally it shouldn’t stop solo players feeling like they are having a satisfying experience — particularly in those early days while they are getting to know the game and convince their friends to try it, too. Unfortunately, that is what has happened here, and that is what runs a very real risk of driving new players away after an initial trial run.

Fairy Farm currently has 400,000 monthly active users and 50,000 daily active users. You can follow its progress with AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers. There is also an iOS version available, but this is not linked to the Facebook incarnation of the game.

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A beautifully-presented game with some serious balancing issues.

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