Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for September 11th, 2023. We’re kicking off this week with a big one, starting with a very detailed review of Fae Farm by our pal Mikhail. After that, there are a few smaller reviews by yours truly, covering Sea of Stars, 30XX, and How 2 Escape. We then move into the new releases of the day, and goodness gracious there is a fair bit of junk. Finally, sales! Not enough to replace the outgoing sales over the weekend, but better than nothing. Let’s get to work!
Reviews & Mini-Views
Fae Farm ($59.99)
Fae Farm from developer Phoenix Labs has been a game I was looking forward to playing since it was showcased in a Nintendo stream. I love new takes on farming and life simulator games as a huge Story of Seasons and Rune Factory fan, and while there’s no shortage of games in those genres, Fae Farm is worth your time on Switch, but it has a few caveats in its current state.
I’ve been playing Fae Farm on Switch thanks to an early code from Phoenix Labs, and it has been very interesting to see the developer’s take on the farming simulation genre. Early on, it felt like a magical remix meets a greatest hits album of the genre greats, but I felt like Fae Farm hadn’t shown its hand yet even half a dozen hours in. After the first few chapters, it clicked. I understood how big the game was, and I also knew right there who this game would be for (including myself).
Going from Dauntless by the same developer to Fae Farm, I almost expected this to be a free to play game akin to Disney Dreamlight Valley, with a more live service focus, but Fae Farm is very much a premium game that not only serves as a lovely intro the farming and life simulation genre, but one that manages to stand out with its magical focus that applies to most aspects of the experience.
Fae Farm‘s gameplay on paper isn’t anything extraordinary, but the quality of life and enhancements it brings to the tried and tested farming simulation gameplay is what makes it stand out. Almost nothing in the game feels like it is wasting your time and forcing you into many menus. The developers clearly understood what aspects of the genre were worth building upon for Fae Farm. Even basic things like tool swapping and inventory management in Fae Farm are so well done that it makes it hard for me to go back to other games.
As you progress through the game’s story and unlock more of the world, everything will start to feel more lively, with upgrades, character-specific quests, a robust system for fishing which I always love in games, exploring dungeons, and more. Fae Farm will be a great game you play daily to knock an hour or more by while you do something else or as a break from the other games in this busy release season.
I couldn’t test much of the multiplayer pre-release, and will be revisiting it in the future, but it does have cross play. I’m interested to see how this is all handled if Fae Farm also hits more platforms in the future. You do need a Phoenix Labs account or linking to one online so keep that in mind. The Switch version has local wireless without an account needed (seemingly) so that is an option if you have people to play with locally.
Visually, I love everything about Fae Farm’s aesthetic barring the character designs. Those aren’t bad, but they feel a bit jarring in some situations. It feels like a hybrid of a chibi and non chibi aesthetic that didn’t work out for me for some characters. Barring that, Fae Farm looks and feels great visually despite softer image quality. Performance has been much better than I expected with some slowdowns when the camera is panning. Load times aren’t too bad either after the initial load.
If you’re wondering about Fae Farm on Nintendo Switch or Steam Deck, it is a much better experience on Steam Deck right now, but this isn’t like some games where the Switch version is bad. If you have the option to play it on Steam Deck, it is better there and you can get it cheaper on PC as well as I will go into below.
I don’t usually comment on the price point of a game unless it is an extreme situation, but Fae Farm‘s pricing needs addressing given the platform differences. Fae Farm on Switch is a single $59.99 digital or physical purchase. On PC, Fae Farm can be bought for $39.99 or $59.99. The lower-price edition is the game without the paid content packs that are planned for release later in the year and in early 2024. The Switch version price point includes those content packs so they will be free for all Switch owners. $59.99 isn’t a problem for a game like this, but when you have others priced lower including Story of Seasons itself, it makes things a bit difficult.
Whether the problems I have with Fae Farm affect you as much, will depend on you, but right now Fae Farm does enough to justify the price in its polished and content-packed state at launch. I definitely wish there was a $39.99 option on Switch as well to make it easier to recommend to more folks without caveats.
Fae Farm is a polished farming sim with a magical flavor that excels of the genre greats in many areas, but also one that falls short in some key ones. The repetitive dialogue and character designs right now are the big caveats. While the latter is subjective, Fae Farm can address the former and truly reach its full potential. I look forward to seeing how it evolves through patches and content updates, but right now Fae Farm is worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre. It is like a magical remix of the greatest hits in the genre, but one that is chock full of things to do with its own charm. –Mikhail Madnani
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Sea of Stars ($34.99)
Sea of Stars is a really well-made indie RPG that shows clear love for the genre’s history. Chrono Trigger, of course. They all pay homage to that one. I see a lot of Illusion of Gaia in here too, and that’s a slightly deeper pull. Well, whatever. We could play spot the reference all day here, and if I’m to be very direct that is something that slightly hurts the experience for me. I love to see the passion, but not at the expense of the game finding its own wings. Chrono Trigger inspired tons of games, but will Sea of Stars be able to do the same? Not a fair comparison of course, but I think there’s a fine line that has to be walked with inspiration, and Sea of Stars feels like it’s playing dangerously around it.
But I’m leaving that aside because that is a wildly subjective thing, and Sea of Stars isn’t egregious enough about it that most are going to notice, I feel. The game is good, and is frequently great. It takes a little while to get cooking, but once it does it’s a fairly smooth ride all around. The presentation is excellent, the gameplay is kind of cozy in its familiarity, and the plot and characters are engaging. It’s easy to see why this game has clicked for so many people, and for an indie developer taking its first swing at the genre, it’s terrific.
With that said, I did have some issues with Sea of Stars. The biggest of them is the quality of the writing. Now, like I said, the plot and characters are well-done. I was interested to see where everything went and I got fairly invested in the denizens of this interesting world. But the actual prose here just isn’t very good. I won’t speculate as to why that is, because there are lots of potential sources. With how much reading you’ll be doing in this game, I think it would have been nice to see more care taken with this aspect. It’s never indecipherable, but it’s very clumsy and unnatural. The other thing that I didn’t care for was the pacing. It really drags in places, and it’s made all the more noticeable by how brisk it is the other half of the time.
That said, while I think the writing could use some serious editing and the game doesn’t quite nail its pacing, those things are easily forgiven by how well it does just about everything else. Sea of Stars fits in nicely with other indie RPGs like Cosmic Star Heroine and Chained Echoes, serving both as a high-quality traditional turn-based RPG experience and a display of genuine affection for the greats of the genre.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
These days it feels like you can find a roguelike spin on just about any popular game series from the past, but 20XX certainly felt ahead of the curve with its blend of Mega Man X and procedurally generated design elements. Not without its flaws, but as a fan of Mega Man X who has been going hungry for a while, I certainly enjoyed it. That said, while playing it I found myself wondering what it would look like if this clearly Mega Man-loving developer tried to make a more traditional action-platformer. 30XX doesn’t quite grant that wish, but it clearly has that kind of idea on its mind.
I don’t just mean its new Mega Mode either, though that is one of the clearer appeals to that desire. This mode removes the perma-death and gives you a more typical level select screen. The levels are still procedurally-generated, but they’re fixed within your session so you can tackle them as many times as you like. You’ll get plenty of ways to permanently upgrade your character, and you don’t lose anything when you fail. You can also play levels created by the community, and those tend to be more traditional in their layouts. The visuals also seem to be attempting to more closely resemble the classic Mega Man games, especially the Zero series.
It also bleeds back a little into the main mode, which is a roguelite in the manner of the previous game. You can collect all kinds of new weapons and upgrades in the procedurally generated stages, but if you die you lose it all. You can choose between Nina (who plays like X) and Ace (who plays like Zero) right from the start this time and can change whenever you like, and there are a few other spanners tossed into the works to keep thins interesting. Like any game with procedurally generated stages, 30XX relies heavily on hand-built chunks that are randomly pieced together. Those chunks seem to be a bit more obvious in this game than the last one, particularly with some biomes, but it only hinders the fun a little.
30XX takes the basic idea behind 20XX and expands on it, offering more of just about everything to players. That’s pretty much what you would want from a sequel, though I suppose the shift in graphical style and slightly more repetitive main mode might find some detractors. I like the Mega Mode and I feel it makes for a nice olive branch for Mega Man fans turned off by the roguelite elements of 20XX, though it probably doesn’t go far enough. Like its predecessor, this is a solid action game with great controls that is doing its part to keep the spirit of a dormant franchise alive, and if you’re an X fan who can enjoy randomized elements, you’ll likely have a great time with it.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
How 2 Escape ($14.99)
I was a little bit torn on what to do with this one, but ultimately I’m just going to judge it for what it is and what it’s trying to do. This is an escape room game of sorts, and it leans into the usual tropes of that genre. In this case, you’re trying to escape from a train. It’s full of ridiculous puzzles, and your only hope of solving them is by getting hints from your partner. That would be the second player, who must download and use a special mobile app to get the needed answers. The two players must communicate with each other in order to succeed, similar to games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. If you aren’t interested in playing a two-player (heavily) asymmetrical game, then don’t pick this up.
Okay, so looking at it within the scope of what it’s doing, I do have some criticisms. The puzzles sometimes make little sense and while there is a hint system, it tends to either tell you too much or not enough. The English text doesn’t read well, suffering from clear markings of a less than stellar localization. That makes it even harder to solve some puzzles. The game is also pretty much a one and done, like most escape games. That said, the premise is a solid one and with a few refinements I could see this making for a good series. Outside of a few very frustrating puzzles, my wife and I had a decent time playing through How 2 Escape.
How 2 Escape really just has one trick up its sleeve, but it’s a good enough one. If you have someone who is willing to play along with you as your “man in the chair" and can tolerate a few poor puzzle designs and some rough writing, you’ll likely find this to be a distinctive and reasonably enjoyable escape adventure.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Adventures of Ben: Rabbit Run ($24.99)
A young adventure-loving boy named Ben gets turned into a human-sized rabbit by a wizard and he has to go on a journey to regain his true form. This is a 3D platformer and I’ll be frank and say that it’s more than a little rough around its edges. Is it still enjoyable anyway? Well, there’s a demo on the eShop and I recommend giving that a spin and seeing how you feel about it yourself.
Old School ($14.99)
Here’s another game from Wrestling Empire creator MDickie, and it’s exactly as good as you would expect. This is a spiffed up version of a previous release from the off-beat developer named School Days, and it’s… I don’t know how to describe it. Like, I’d want to mention things like Skool Daze or Bully, but this is really a whole other kettle of bonkers fish. It’s like pro wrestling meets high school in all the right ways. You can even play with friends via local multiplayer, with support for up to four students at a time.
Candlebook Island ($5.99)
What an odd-looking game this is. You’re kind of a monster doctor? You need to travel around and treat sick monsters, form relationships with your colleagues, and research various illnesses and diseases. During the night the monsters will move around, so you’ll have to find where they’re at the next day. You’ll also need to manage your own condition by relaxing now and then. The presentation is certainly modest, but I’ll give this game credit for its concept. I don’t recall anything else that has this kind of set-up on the eShop, and that’s not easy these days.
The Bin Bunch
I don’t usually write anything here, but a big shout out to Gametry for Champion of Fighters and its ripped-off sprites from Capcom’s Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. Really classy, you absolute bottom-feeding jerks. And now, on to the trash.
RPG Alchemy ($6.52)
Nathan Jones & the Eternal Myth ($4.99)
Thunder War Rabbit Alien Fight ($4.99)
Word Quest ($2.99)
Champion of Fighters ($2.99)
(North American eShop, US Prices)
Well, what do I want to mention today? New low prices on XIII and Fur Squadron, I suppose. Not much else that I want to make any noise about. Looks like business as usual over in the outbox, too. Well, you can check those lists yourselves and see what jumps out at you.
Select New Games on Sale
A Painter’s Tale: Curon, 1950 ($6.29 from $6.99 until 9/16)
Hell’s High Harmonizers ($5.39 from $11.99 until 9/17)
Magicians’ Chase: Missing Curry Recipe ($4.04 from $8.99 until 9/17)
Fur Squadron ($4.19 from $6.99 until 9/18)
Flutter Away ($10.39 from $12.99 until 9/24)
Dungeon and Puzzles ($2.49 from $9.99 until 9/24)
Vivid Knight ($8.99 from $14.99 until 9/25)
Madorica Real Estate 2 ($9.49 from $18.99 until 9/25)
The Red Lantern ($4.99 from $24.99 until 9/26)
Railways ($2.49 from $4.99 until 9/27)
Seduce Me: Complete Story ($7.99 from $9.99 until 9/29)
Bus Tycoon: Night & Day ($2.79 from $133.99 until 9/29)
New Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/29)
Garfield Lasagna Party ($19.99 from $39.99 until 9/29)
Asterix & Obelix XXL Romastered ($7.99 from $19.99 until 9/30)
XIII ($15.99 from $19.99 until 9/30)
Mega Party: A Tootuff Adventure ($2.99 from $14.99 until 9/30)
Agatha Christie: ABC Murders ($5.09 from $14.99 until 9/30)
Everdream Valley ($17.49 from $24.99 until 9/30)
Toki ($1.99 from $9.99 until 9/30)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 12th
Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise ($1.99 from $19.99 until 9/12)
Castle Morihisa ($3.74 from $14.99 until 9/12)
Children of Morta: Complete ($7.99 from $26.99 until 9/12)
Dead by Daylight ($14.99 from $29.99 until 9/12)
Ember ($4.99 from $14.99 until 9/12)
Mechanic 8230: Escape From Ilgrot ($1.99 from $14.99 until 9/12)
Moonlighter: Complete ($4.34 from $28.99 until 9/12)
Phoenotopia: Awakening ($7.99 from $19.99 until 9/12)
South of the Circle ($7.79 from $12.99 until 9/12)
Sqroma ($4.99 from $8.99 until 9/12)
SUPERHOT ($9.99 from $24.99 until 9/12)
This War of Mine: Complete ($1.99 from $39.99 until 9/12)
UnderDungeon ($1.99 from $13.99 until 9/12)
That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and if the whispers on the winds are correct, perhaps some news. I somehow managed to mess up my knee over the weekend, so let’s all cross our fingers that it heals fast or I might not be able to attend the Tokyo Game Show next week. That wouldn’t be cool. I hope you all have a marvelous Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!