Many people who don’t have a rural background immediately think that farming is about growing crops and only that. But farming is an intricate process which includes so much more! Farm Manager 2018 is a game about building your own farm but you aren’t just planting crops and harvesting them. Which means the game isn’t only limited to arable farming. It also features livestock, juice, frozen food factories, slaughterhouses and milk processing plants among a variety of industries that supplement farming. Then there is the hiring of permanent or seasonal employees, who work and receive salaries on your farm. And as for the crops, you go through the entire process of plowing, cultivating, watering, fertilizing and harvesting.

This gives the game extra depth which hasn’t been seen in a farming game except in Stardew Valley (but hey! You can’t have a tractor do all the work in it, can you?). This extra depth in a farming game means slower gameplay, which means you have to wait a long time before you can harvest your crops or transfer products from one building to another but there is usually something to do in the meantime though sometimes waiting is the best solution. Also it shows what an elongated task farming is. Seasons play a role too and in winter you can’t raise crops so you have to be prepared.

The objective of Farm Manager 2018 is to produce fruit, vegetables, livestock, meat, eggs, cheese, milk and everything in between and sell it to make a profit. The game is endless.

Now many would ask how this farming business simulator is interesting at all compared to being a gun totting criminal in GTA or an equally bad-ass soldier in the US army like Battlefield. But Farm Manager manages the art of farming with such finesse that it makes the seemingly mundane business fascinating, and you learn at least something about agriculture, well, mostly the various processes like plowing, cultivating, watering and harvesting.

Farm Manager gives you a lot of choices in developing your own dream farm. You can start as a small-time, minor sandbox (free mode) farmer with a grassy, vacant piece of land and become a tycoon as your farm grows and grows. Or you could start a campaign which has a tutorial and features some story-telling (Don’t expect a mind blowing story-telling though) Finally there are scenarios where you could focus on a specific sector of farming like the sole production of meat or selling only milk and honey. These aren’t challenging, though they are lengthy. However testing these scenarios was fun and completing the specific goals give a sense of accomplishment though it would have been better if they marked the ones you have completed with a star or crown or if staying with the farming theme, eggs, a pail of milk, or plants. Just a suggestion for rewarding the completionist gamer for completing scenarios.

Bear in mind the game has a long learning curve. It can take an especially lengthy amount of time to understand what goes hand in hand with what. Everything is related. For example grass is needed to feed cows, which produce milk (and manure which can be used for fertilizing). The milk can be refined into cheese or butter. In this way you can produce a chain of agricultural products which can be used to produce other products and so on. This is the main selling point of this game.

Every action depends on your play style and this is most specific to sandbox mode. You can try to be as self-sufficient as possible, take the middle path or you can buy what you need constantly. If you take the path of self-sufficiency however it can be a long time before you could produce everything yourself but it is a valid option late game. Free Mode has options to name the farm, how much cash you start with and the relative difficulty which gives some variety. Although the map is randomly generated and we could do with extra maps. The graphics are not mind blowing so it can get tiring looking at the same grassy terrain. Challenges regularly appear and tell you, for example, to build a 1 hectare sized field, upgrade the ability of an employee, or breed a few cows. For completing them, you get a small monetary prize.

Initially, in sandbox, you have to buy seeds, the tractor parts (like plows, seed drills and reapers), fertilizer, and much more equipment which can be used for sowing, cultivation and harvest. You also have to experiment with the fields most of the time, not knowing how large you have to make your fields so that tractors can be used on them.

But if you handle things right you will, in time, have a burgeoning farm on your hands. It is slow but does well to make the point that farming is not even nearly the simple business people think it is. There’s a lot of effort and patience that goes into it and the slow speed with which time passes goes on to make this point.

You can unlock buildings or perks through research. From your main building (the owner’s house) you can research technologies and there are many buildings you can build but most of the advanced ones are for the mid and late game when you have enough money. But making money is not really a problem in the game, if you are willing to wait.

There are a few tricks that make this game a walk in the park in terms of challenge and allow for gathering cold hard cash. If you build a slaughterhouse, butcher cows and sell their meat regularly, you can gain huge profits. Similarly there is a more long term solution to earn profits. Building wind turbines. Wind turbines need to be unlocked but you will be thankful that you unlocked and bought it a few, in-game months later.

There is some form of tutorial that introduces you to the various menus and tabs so that you are not left completely helpless as you start the game. However the rest, including which building goes with what, you have to learn by yourself.

The small file size (2.4 GB) means there could be additional depth, though. It would be perfect if there were more vegetables and fruits to grow, since there’s little to do once you have built every possible building, and planted every possible crop other than build more of the same. A few vegetables and fruits that you cannot grow in Farm Manager include rice, carrots, oranges, peas, olives, pineapple, spinach, peas, bananas, mangos, grapes, mushrooms, melons, breadfruit, lemons and many more. (Not all of these are publicly known as fruits or vegetables but rather as funguses etc)

Another facet that can help improve the game play is introducing other means of plowing, cultivating and growing crops. To cite an example, in a lot of places around the world there are ox or donkey driven ploughs rather than tractors. It would have been fun to explore these unique ways of farming around the world.

The visuals in this game are also not up to the mark and it feels outdated and sometimes the bugs make it unplayable, particularly a game breaking one that causes your tractor, complete with an employee of your farm, to get stuck. And new tractors don’t just cost a lot, they are the ultimate tool for modern farming because they are needed for all stages, including plowing, cultivation and harvesting! And I have never seen a Farm Manager 2018 player have more than 8 tractors on his farm, so losing one is a big blow.

The game also does not explain what the (up to) fifty pieces of machinery for your tractors do in real life since most people who will play the game will not be farmers. Therefore there is little learning in the game, other than the process of farming and how greenhouses work.

At any rate, Farm Manager is good choice for those interested in the farming business, or the relaxed gameplay it brings. Some reviewers have been harsh on it and it is hardly the top game or the top farming game out there but it is still a straight shot at introducing the complex business of farming.

Review Platform: PC

Rating: 7.1

Pros:

  • With options like Campaign, Free Play and Scenarios, you have a lot of variety as in how you want to play.
  • Teaches us how complex farming can be.
  • Free mode has lots of options. You can start as a destitute farmer by raising the difficulty and lowering starting cash or a rich one with a huge investment sum on his hands (by reducing the difficulty and starting cash)
  • Small file size means quick installation
  • Chain of production. Eg the fruits you grow can be used in a juice factory to produce juice, or seedling factory to produce seeds. Similarly cows manure can be used as fertilizer. This “series” makes the game so much more interestingand gives the user an option to be completely self-sufficient, eventually.
  • Good for the casual gamer. Does not offer a major challenge.

Cons:

  • Has a long learning curve.
  • Has some bugs with some being game-breakingly bad.
  • Gets repetitively boring after a while, especially when you have grown all vegetables and fruits.
  • The added focus on cows as the source of income makes the game pretty straightforward with not even a minor challenge: All you have to do is build a cowshed initially, then build a slaughterhouse and finally begin sending your cows there to be slaughtered. The profits are insane and take out any challenge quickly!
  • There will be times when you have nothing to do if you focus only on crops, particularly in winter.
  • Is not optimal in visuals
  • Load times can be slow though I wonder why when the game is so small in size.
  • The lack of difficulty can make the game less than entertaining for the more competitive gamer.

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