Farmer’s Dynasty feels like it was made by a farm animal pretending to be a human


It’s half past seven in the evening and I’m scraping rust off a greenhouse. I hate scraping rust off greenhouses. It’s noisy, it’s boring and it takes up time that could be spent doing other tasks in Farmer’s Dynasty. Activities like driving through your neighbours field with the thresher turned on, or dumping all the grain you’ve collected onto the head of Steve, the local shopkeeper. Don’t worry, Steve doesn’t mind. Steve’s not human.

Farmer’s Dynasty is a wobbly farming sim currently in early access. It’s about being an absurd wax man in a plaid shirt who inherits a run-down farmhouse, along with some fields, barns, sheds and silos. You plod around clicking on roofs, bricking up walls and cutting the grass until it looks like a passable home, then you get farming and socialising. You can grow seeds in the greenhouse, work the fields, keep chickens, and harass the women you meet with poundshop chat-up lines. It’s like Stardew Valley, if Stardew Valley was made from stale Playdough and left to ferment in a bog.

There is some pleasure in it, and I’ll get to that soon. But first, you have to understand what it’s like to live in this stodgy agricultural fever dream. It’s partly a straight sim – there are machines to drive and crops to harvest – but it also has a basic social system. You can talk to neighbouring farmers and do jobs for them. This gets you social points, along with other rewards like equipment. But you can lose social points by being a bad neighbour. Bad neighbours do things like drive through fields of wheat to shave 100 metres off their journey into town.


These social points, as far as I can tell, determine whether some women will marry you (yep). I’m not certain about the precise mechanics of married life, since I never had the money to buy all the jewellery and chocolates required to cement any such alliance (uh huh). But I have read that having a wife is the only way to obtain cooked food in your own home (again, yes). She’s also good for spawning children. You currently can’t marry other men, or play as a woman with a husband.

Anyway, let’s put that over there for a moment. Let’s just see what it’s like to play.


My life as a farm man began with odd jobs. I fixed some roof tiles for my neighbour, Mr Tutorial, and earned a rusty red tractor. With this I decided to explore the map. Should I go to church to seek respect? Or perhaps to the train station in search of work? No. I will go to the lakeside, where an icon tells me there’s a “social gathering”. As I drive, at a steady 23 kilometres per hour, I imagine the scene awaiting me. Maybe there’ll be some straw-chewing NPCs having a chat, or crowds drinking beer with animal torsos sizzling on bisected oil drums.

Soon, I arrive at the lake. There’s a single British guy in sunglasses looking at the wall of a barn.


I approach him and we look at each other for some time, while I consider what to say from my four options.

“Them politicians,” I finally offer, “what are they thinking?”

“Let them come live with us for a week,” he replies, “they’ll see what a real life is.”


Neither of us clarifies which politicians we are talking about, and I leave.

Determined to find more people, I make a short visit to a small town. It has zero inhabitants and the atmosphere of a Half-Life 2 level waiting for Gordon to arrive.


In fact, the whole world is eerily empty. There’s no traffic on the roads, just you, and any NPCs you do meet seem to stick around their respective homes. I decide to stop faffing open-world style, and return to quest markers. I take a job from my neighbour Clara.


She wants me to plough and rake a field, in preparation for some seeds. This is where the game goes from societal jank to familiar sim territory.


There’s a simple satisfaction to this toy farming. It’s similar to a good scrubbing in Viscera Cleanup Detail, the easy-going pleasure you’d get from doing a colouring book. Repairing roofs or fences is a dull matter of filling in pips that appear on your HUD, but ploughing, harvesting and grass-cutting has an absent-minded hypnotism to it. The dead-brained contentment that comes from turning brown into another, slightly darker shade of brown. It’s moments like this that I understand the allure of farming simulators, the simplicity, the solitude, the —

“Information!” says the game. “Clara seems to be really fond of you.”

Thanks, Clara. I’d feel the same but there’s a woman called Ella who I like better. She stands by the lake 500 metres away and is identical to you in every way.


And anyway, enough of this ploughing. I’m going to church to tell a woman in a hat who stands outside the church, probably because she can’t enter the church (nobody can enter the church), that she is “more beautiful than any flower”, that she “really looks beautiful today”, that she “looks like the princess I’ve been waiting for my entire life”, all this and more, until the voice actor responsible for her lines of dialogue stops bothering to adhere to the subtitles and our entire conversation ends in an abrupt and welcome silence as we gesticulate like two marionettes melting in the sun.


In other words, this game is garbage. It feels like it’s been made by a cow masquerading as a human. A Gary Larson bovine wearing a shirt and tie, perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown, lest he be discovered. Yes, he thinks, sweating as he draws up yet more features, this is definitely the way humans behave.

I resolve to give it one last chance. Hopping into my tractor, I head to Steve’s farm. Steve has a trailer he’ll give me for doing some odd jobs. But guess what’s top of his list? It’s the greenhouse. This will be the fourth greenhouse I have fixed.


At 7pm in the evening, I’m still there, scraping off rust as the cricket sound effects suddenly switch on, like an alarm clock. At 8pm, I’m still there, pumping nails into the barn roof, the game warning me that I am “seriously hungry”. I ate my last tomato hours ago. At 8.30pm I finish my chores and Steve gives me the trailer. Now it is time to drive the 2.5 km back to my own farm.


At 10.20pm, with a “stomach like a volley ball” and shoe laces that “look like pasta”, I finally reach the bed in my weathered, creaking farmhouse. I’m given the option to sleep until tomorrow morning or “rest for a week”. I understand this latter option to be an invitation to coma and death, and promptly click on it. Fade to black.


Not long enough. Soon the screen fades back in and I awake, rejuvenated yet still hungry.

There’s an absurdity to the life of these cow people that some will equate to charm. Others will be able to ignore the social puppetry for a taste of that sleepy colouring-in. I managed to reach neither form of acceptance with Farmer’s Dynasty. I only wish I had died in my sleep.


  1. FredSaberhagen says:

    Understandable first reaction, but I hear this game can really grow on you

  2. GrumpyCatFace says:

    Someday, someone will actually put in the necessary effort to make a farm-life simulator that doesn’t look like a joke. At that time, we will look back on these early efforts and laugh. From our wheelchairs.

    • X_kot says:

      “Let them come live with us for a week, they’ll see what a real life is.”

      Perhaps the game is a cynical expression of a townie’s view of the agrarian life.

      • GrumpyCatFace says:

        More likely, a cynical foreigner’s view of American rural life. At least townies can write coherent dialog.

    • Someoldguy says:

      This. I so want a farming lifestyle simulator that’s more about the reality on a smaller farm, with livestock to care for, property maintenance chores to perform and neighbours to interact with, not just driving a succession of big boys toys. Sadly this doesn’t look like it, despite the tasks that don’t involve going up and down a field. Unless it can stay in EA for years and radically transform itself.

      • MrEvilGuy says:

        We only have gentlemen’s farming simulators, except I have yet to see migrant workers as an option.

      • UncleLou says:

        I am not trying to be funny here or anything, but your best option currently is probably Stardew Valley. It is not a (vehicle) sim of course, but at least it has seasons, fences to repair, etc., for example. And obviously livestock.

        • Josh Grams says:

          Huh. I bounced off Stardew Valley really hard because I felt like it didn’t capture the essence of farming or small-town life at all. Obviously it’s supposed to be very simplified and stylized, but to me it just felt like the same old D&D-based RPG mechanics with the combat verbs filed off and “farming” and “socializing” labels pasted over, rather than an attempt to represent actual farming in any meaningful way.

          To me, the essence of farming is the fuzziness and risk management. Knowing that your livelihood can be severely impacted by factors like the weather which are beyond your control. And noticing and dealing with the little problems before they become big ones. In Stardew Valley there didn’t even seem to be much weather. And watering seemed like an exceptionally bad choice as a stand-in for all the little tasks you perform around plants. To me, watering is something you try to avoid having to do. It’s something you do when you’re setting out small tender plants, or when there’s a severe drought. There was none of the waiting for a grey day to set out transplants so they wouldn’t wilt in the heat, or hoping that it wouldn’t rain too much and drown your plants or make the soil too muddy to work, or watching the weather and praying for three dry days to make hay. There was no watching the temperatures and wondering if you could plant a few days earlier, or if you could squeeze an extra few days in to get one more harvest before a frost, just hard deadlines where “BAM! We’ll just kill all your plants.” And then the harvesting and processing and sale was just grabbing the fruits and dropping them in the box instead of the quarter to a third of your time that it actually takes up. And the animal and and plant tasks seemed sort of backward: animal care is very much an every-day thing, while plants are more fire-and-forget with occasional maintenance. I didn’t get far into the animals in Stardew Valley, but it seemed like you could neglect them significantly more than you could with the plants…?

          And I feel like the essence of small-town life is about everyone being all up in everyone else’s business. I only got through the first spring and summer, but it didn’t seem like there was any of that in Stardew Valley. When we bought this farm, six weeks went by before we had a single day where someone didn’t stop by to say hello and welcome and interrupt our work by wanting to talk for an hour. There was none of the going to the store and hearing “Nice to see someone cleaning up all that brush and rocks” or “I didn’t see you using your baler this summer; would you want to sell it to me?” or “Hey, that’s a swanky new chicken coop; how many birds do you have” or even “Your lettuce looks a little yellowish; you should try mixing molasses and water and spraying it like my grandmother used to.”

          So…I don’t know. Maybe it would require a lot more complexity and give less of the things that people think are fun. But I can’t help thinking that just a little more complexity and better choices of which aspects to model and what tone to take with the dialog could have made it much more interesting…

          • UncleLou says:

            I can’t really disagree with anything you say, but compare this to Farming Simulator, where you … drive different vehicles.

            There are at least a few basic approximations in Stardew Valley to the ideas you mention, but no, obviously it is in no way, shape or form a farming sim (but not any less so than the “Farming Simulator”, which really is an “agricultural vehicles simulator”).

          • poliovaccine says:

            Honestly, I think it really just needs consultation from someone like you. Danny Boyle hired a bunch of real (ex) junkies to consult on authenticity in Trainspotting, cus it’s all about the details with anything.

            I think the real issue is mainly just that Stardew Valley is a game first, made foremost by people who probably had more game dev experience than on-the-farm experience. I worked at a farm for a short period and even just that little insight is enough to seriously clash with some friends’ ideas of it back in the city, when I’d mention the job: “So I mean, you plant stuff, and then… wait? Or what?” It physically beat my ass, btw.

            I’d be interested to see the stuff you mention properly integrated, maybe not into Stardew Valley, maybe something I would play haha. Something without the laughable yet creepy dating sim attached. That level of granular detail you describe, for things like the weather, soil conditions, pests, animal behavior and care, etc, etc, if all that were systems based and the events were therefore somewhat emergent, that could honestly be one of the coolest immersive sims ever, full stop. (Plus someone would no doubt make a Deus Ex or Dishonored mod for it eventually, with systems like that haha, okay so I lied about the full stop, but I meant it at the time..)

            I know I make so many yuks I risk seeming facetious but my interest is genuine: that’s a whole untapped level of depth that makes me actually interested in a farming sim in general, whereas I hadn’t been before I’d clicked (nor after I’d read) this article. I’m willing to bet that same impression is what motivates others to make, maybe not Stardew Valley, but games like this featured one or the more well-known Farming Simulator 20XX games. And then they just fail to deliver on the experience which initially impressed them, probably out of lacking for that granular detail you provide. Again, if that were systems-based? Pee *pants* that would be a cool game.

  3. theRealComptroller says:

    Angle Grinder : The Game

  4. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I kinda dig the dynasty part if it were like “The Guild” where the next gen can take over when the player “dies”.
    On the other hand I found Farming Simulator 15 a drag and I love ETS2.

  5. racccoon says:

    lol love the review :)

  6. Pharaoh Nanjulian says:

    Thoroughly amusing, Caldwell. Many encomiums. Continue!

  7. Freud says:


  8. sharpmath says:

    Awesome review, great job. But I love stuff like this so I’m sadly still interested in playing.

    • Humanji says:

      I couldn’t resist picking it up, and it’s not that bad at all. It’s insanely calming and has that addictive “I’ll just do this one more thing then quit” quality.

      I’ve not done much with the social aspect, but I’m not sure what the reviewer is complaining about when it’s fairly identical to Stardew Valley. Ply people with gifts and do them favours, and suddenly you can marry them.

      But because of the truly awful writing (which I think is a plus point, because it’s so funny), I think the developers should change tack and purposefully make it weird in a Deadly Premonition. It’d guarantee a cult following and the setting would fit it perfectly!

  9. Samudaya says:

    The first “tip” that came up was something like “Keep your wife happy and she’ll cook you dinner.”

  10. H0nestJ0hn says:

    As playing Farming Simulator 20XX for years and playing games since 1979 i have to disagree with Brendan and his review on FD. I like Black Mesa and the Half life series. ‘This War of mine’ a great game, Anno 1404 and American truck simulator and ETS2. And played battlefield 2 demo for years. O i forgot the C&C series aswell. So what has this all to do with FD you think. Simple i like a broad range of games and one of the ganre’s i like are Farming sims. I compare FD with FS17 because FD fills in what i miss in the FS series for years. Give farming and the farming experience some context. And i can agree with Brendan the issues he has with the game. But the game is in full development, it is not in it’s final stage. But playing FD gave me for the last couple of weeks more satisfaction and pleasure then the FS series ever did. Fieldwork in FD is way more realistic and entertaining then in FS. Developers update the game every week with bugfixes or additional game elements we can explore. Also are while streaming this game on Twitch feedback from watchers are positive. To end Brendan… yes you what silly jokes are you making no ‘gay merriage’ in this game. You want to bring these toxic topics into this review to make some point? Who wrote this review an ape?

  11. Mud says:

    I’ll see you arooouuuuund!

  12. Ravenwingbiker says:

    Brendan you call thet a review holy hell pom pull your head in. If you are going to review a game do the job properly point out good and bad points but above all make sure you point out that this game only just went up as “Early Access” ie its still in development and if you read the dev blog and plan you will see traffic is planned. Yes npc’s need work but they only just got real voices so we know more is planned. I would also like to point out the devs actually answer questions on the forums and appreciate input and advice many others never answer the players. As for poor you fixing a building I think thats kind of a nice change this game will hit a market that other sims have neglected and I am sorry you cant marry your boyfriend in the game then again I am glad that wasnt added too :). I would like to see an option to start as a female as that would make my daughter happy at least to have the option. The graphics are very nice the content is also good you can plant more types of crops than other farming sims not to mention being able to grow vegies in the greenhouse, you can upgrade your buildings with different materials etc so many things you didnt point out in your childish review. Do yourself a favor Brendan look at RPS website link read the about us section then read this peice of tripe you have written an tell me if it meets the standards claimed in that about us statement. We are all poorer for having to have read such a piece of garbage in fact I wouldnt be surprised if it was added to a wall in Viscera Cleanup Detail for players to clean up with the rest of the crap.

    • Ravenwingbiker says:

      Oh and have a good new year :) even without the ashes cheers

    • H0nestJ0hn says:

      I fully agree!!!

    • Fairweather says:

      Every time you miss a punctuation mark, an angel loses its wings your comment loses further legibility.

      I’d suggest leniency for a one-sided review, because a) it was entertaining, and b) it’s the first week back to work after the holidays – everyone’s grumpy.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I mean, this isn’t a review, he did mention that it’s Early Access, he has different opinions than you do, and a comment isn’t less homophobic if you put a smiley face at the end.

  13. Mr Bismarck says:

    “Them politicians,” I finally offer, “what are they thinking?”

    “Let them come live with us for a week,” he replies, “they’ll see what a real life is.”

    Clearly you’re a spy and this is your handler.

    Try saying “the ducks fly south over my orchard.”

  14. Badreview1313 says:

    A review of a early access game that is less than a month old… Really! The game you review will not be the same game next week. If you would have looked at the steam discussions you would have noticed their roadmap for the month that adds a lot of content and you would have noticed a pinned wishlist that the developers are asking us what we want in the game and they are very actively working on the game and communicating with the community. Even releasing two updates during the holidays when a lot of other studios are shut down.

    This game already has more to it than the FS series. It has context, building repair, NPCs that serve a purpose and goals in the form of quests with a endgame goal instead of just grinding only for that expensive tractor or harvester like what you do in the FS series. Not to mention deformable terrain so when you plow you actually dig up dirt.

    You completely miss the point of the game trying to give you a small town “little house on the prairie” feel where you start out with almost nothing and you’re almost expected to go to church, marry a women and have kids to pass down your farm to, like your grandpa did for you. The NPC’s are to have major updates for them this month alone. By the end of the month there will be traffic and NPCs will be working their land as well as other things.

    It’s too bad you took a dump on a project that is getting so much love and attention and has just started out. And honestly you don’t seem to be the sort that would like a good farming sim.

    • mike69 says:

      It’s not a review, it’s an article about someone’s opinions of a clearly quite humorous early access project; that you’re taking far more personally, and seriously, than necessary.

      • Badreview1313 says:

        Perhaps I’m taking it too seriously but I have been talking to a couple of the developers and they are really dedicated and nice people.

        Even though this is just a opinion it is what people will see when thinking of buying this game and it will scare people away. This has done damage to this game’s name at such an early stage whether unintentional or not.

        I don’t think it is as niche as you think either, I think it has something for most people. For me I like the building repair and the farming. I’m not into the family aspect but some people do and you don’t really have to do that.

    • Brendan Caldwell says:

      The minute a developer charges money for a game, we are able to declare if it is worth that money.

      Farmer’s Dynasty is not worth £25.

      • GrumpyCatFace says:

        This. I’d actually like to try it out, but I’m not paying $30 for a look. Early Access should be much cheaper than the full product.

    • Premium User Badge

      kfix says:

      Well, at least you know how paragraphs work.

  15. KingFunk says:

    A few general points here:

    1. This made me titter, so that justifies its existence in my book.
    2. Some people here are suspiciously defensive about the game.
    3. If you’re gonna already charge people £24.99 for a game, just because you say it’s still in Early Access doesn’t mean it can’t be criticised.
    4. Brendy does state early on that it’s in Early Access, so people can use that to define the length of their own yardsticks, rather than him continually pointing it out by way of excusing his observations.

    Hey ho.

    • mike69 says:

      RPS content shows up in the news section for games on Steam, so you always get a few die-hard shut-ins come to defend a game irrelivent if it’s quality. These people wouldn’t know ‘objectivity’ if it asked them out on a date.

      Same thing on that weird sexual predator simulator game that was reviewed a while back, and the tears generated from the term ‘plunkbat’.

  16. mike69 says:

    The comments attempting to defend this one are stellar. Such a lack of self awareness is truly special.

    • durrbluh says:

      I honestly can’t tell if they’re just third-rate trolls targeting RPS articles that dare to mention inclusivity, or developers of the game masquerading as “fans”.

      • GrumpyCatFace says:

        Based on the awkward writing style from both of them, I lean toward the latter.

  17. Chaz says:

    It’s like Stardew Valley, if Stardew Valley was made from stale Playdough and left to ferment in a bog.

    Perhaps I’m a bit odd, but that actually makes it sound quite good to me. A dark and twisted farming simulator with shades of Children of the Corn and Jeepers Creeper with a bit of The League of Gentlemen thrown in, now that would be great.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Sounds like the sort of thing that will make a great brew. The kind that makes you go blind. Which might explain the decision to give you a Farmall M tractor instead of one of similar vintage that doesn’t have it’s front wheels so close together. The farming equivalent of the Robin Reliant.

  18. Ejia says:

    I was hoping the reason that the woman in the hat (and everyone else) could not enter the church was that her hat was too big and it was physically preventing her from doing so. Alas.

    • Railway Rifle says:

      It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the kindom of heaven in a ostentatious and vaingloriously large hat.

  19. Railway Rifle says:

    “ It feels like it’s been made by a cow masquerading as a human. A Gary Larson bovine wearing a shirt and tie, perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown, lest he be discovered. Yes, he thinks, sweating as he draws up yet more features, this is definitely the way humans behave.”

    Done deliberately, I think this could be a really interesting setting.

    Also, the social stuff makes me wonder if “I need my field plowed” was a euphemism.

  20. grimdanfango says:

    Hmm, hailing from rural England, I wonder if the “social” aspects might not actually be remarkably on-the-nose.
    The vast majority of men around these parts seem to consider cooking their own food to be an utterly incomprehensible notion.
    I get the feeling that throughout a lot of the UK, your perceived options as a man are to either get married, or subsist entirely on a diet of Fray Bentos pies and tinned soup.

    I’m pretty sure the only reason I realised it was possible for me to cook my own food was because I ran away to university :-P