I had the opportunity to preview the survival videogame Farmer's Father: Save the Innocence. Prequel to the farming simulator Farmer's Life, you play as the former protagonist’s father as he, his wife, and baby child try to survive 1945 East Europe. The game begins with the Axis forces marching on your front door, forcing the three of you to flee your burning home to the safety of a nearby bunker. Once safely inside, you sleep the night off, now alone during the middle of winter. In the bunker you’ll find: a rifle with 10 rounds of ammunition, a bunk bed, a single lamp resting on a table, a working fireplace/oven, and a chest where you put all of the provisions and items.
As you’re now hiding behind enemy lines, you must keep your family alive by maintaining gauges representing heat and food supply for the family, as well as your basic health and needs. Everything you find (and I mean everything) can be stored in the single trunk beside the bunk bed to be used by your wife when you’re away. However, when supplies are low, she relies on you to keep the heating on and retrieve the small amount of food you can find before the sun goes down. You search for food by entering abandoned buildings for chests containing ingredients for wholesome meals, hunting with your rifle, gaining fresh meat in exchange for valuable ammunition and stealing off dead soldiers. And everything you find is one-time off, once you ransack a building, it won’t replenish. Although it seems daunting to have to manage every crumb, as your character is a farmer, you also have the ability to get food from farm animals once you find and feed them.
Over time, you gain the ability to build a makeshift farm out of materials you can find, including wooden planks that can be found in piles around villages or made simply by cutting down trees, and taking a hand saw to separate logs. Beginning with a small pen to put farm animals in, you construct fences, feeding troughs and what you’d expect to be on a generic farm around the bunker — hopefully preventing you from having to make too many trips away from home. You can also assemble things like butcher’s tables that give you more meat from dead animals.
While the building mechanics are somewhat easy to do, finding any farm animals lost in the woods is easier said than done. These animals will occasionally call out when you’re near them which helps triangulate their position, but they don’t stand out as much in the regular snowstorm or fog that occur so the chance to go looking at them each day is small. Like the dog you find at the start of the game, if you’re also breezing through the game, you’ll think the constant howling is just the ambiance of the forest. After finding them, you build feeders and begin collecting produce from them. The dog, on the other hand, will help you find buried chests with food and supplies — helping greatly in the beginning stages.
Though while playing, I was always worried that the sounds of animals and the smoke rising from the chimney would attract the suspicion of passing soldiers. As the game begins with an invasion of Axis forces, camps and outposts guarded by troops can be found around the map. While they don’t usually conduct patrols, if you get too close to them, they will chase and attack you. However, you can fight back with your own rifle, but you can’t steal ammunition from the dead soldiers which forces you to make a risky decision; either hope to find more ammo on your excursions or try your luck by infiltrating an ammo camp. On my first playthrough, I had this exact problem as every time I would venture outside, I’d run into a soldier or two and have to outrun them, leading me to slowly starve and have to restart.
In my playthroughs (of which I had two), I had different experiences of play. While both began the same way with me gathering up as much firewood and goods, my first was headstrong, taking more risks and spending most of the game attempting to unlock all the fast travel points before settling in. This inevitably had me waste much needed resources just to get back home. My second (and more successful) run was more beneficial as I started to take the game seriously, and followed the tasks given to me through journal entries. When I got to the stage where I had to fight for myself, I was ready for them.
While I would comment on the graphics and sound quality, the game is still a work in progress, as well as having so many bugs and glitches occur — which I immediately reported — while playing, it would be unfair to simply judge it. However, when I filed a report on missing audio, I had to file another report for being flung 100 metres into the air, only to then fall back down and take zero damage; it did make me think Farmer’s Father: Save the Innocence has a lot to work on before it can be considered a finished product.
But also, Farmer’s Father: Save the Innocence did influence me to look at gameplay of Farmer's Life, a game I probably wouldn’t have played without positive feedback from peers and/or friends. Maybe when the game has fully released I’ll compare the differences between the two. What do you think? Leave a comment below if you would like to read that.