I feel like I’m writing about Japanese-style role-playing games disproportionately often, compared to what I’m actually playing. I think this is because, like roguelikes, they make excellent “break time” games that can be played in short, quick sessions and don’t require a significant time investment. While I’m always playing at least one large-scale game, I can’t always sit down for a serious gaming session, and sometimes these “break time” games are all I have time for. I hope to post about the other stuff I’m playing soon, but it may be small-scale games for a while.
It’s got a pleasingly surreal vibe. Players take control of Kevin Rudd, a proud farmer (and later, his two sons). Kevin watched the city spring to life all around his farm, see, but the land’s all he’s ever needed. The conveniently irradiated land that can grow vegetables in a single afternoon. But with the government constantly trying to take his farm, the Ikytu crime gang terrorizing the city streets, and vandals running amok everywhere, life sure ain’t easy.
The art style may turn some players off, but I loved it. It looks like it’s been done in Microsoft Paint, but it works because it’s consistent, and seems somehow fitting given the strange world these characters live in. It’s a place where pulling up weeds can reveal worms that can be processed into useful items, or a mop alien that will chase you around. Where walking garbage bags might attack you in an alley, but you can patch yourself up by wolfing down some brudd. This bizarre place is the highlight of the game, and I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through it, meeting its denizens and taking it all in.
Mechanically the game is fairly standard, but there are a few twists. For instance, there’s no benefit to fighting. It’s required at certain points to progress the story, but other battles will only leave you low on health and energy. This means that, much like in real life, avoiding combat is the best strategy. Fortunately that’s not too hard because Kevin Rudd Farming Generations lets you see enemies before you engage, rather than employing random battles like many other games in the genre. Since you don’t get experience or gain levels from fighting, you must instead rely on items to boost your stats. This was not clear at first, and I was wondering why I was struggling so much with the combat; there are in-game hints as to what items do, but it’s never spelled out fully so I didn’t realize that some had permanent effects. Plus, the player is expected to remember each item’s function, as there are no tool-tips or descriptions when browsing one’s inventory. But this ended up being only a minor annoyance.
The reliance on usable items is where the farming comes in. I already mentioned pulling up weeds to find worms, which can later be turned into useful items. But there are also all manner of seeds to be found, which can be planted on the farm to yield items directly. These seeds are just as strange as the rest of the game; my favorite was the dough seed, which grows into some dough that can be baked into brudd. The actual farming is reminiscent of Harvest Moon, and like that game seeds don’t sprout until you’ve taken a nap. The problem is, you can only nap at certain points in Kevin Rudd Farming Generations, and planted seeds that have not yet sprouted will not carry over to new chapters in the story. I lost some of my most valuable seeds this way, which was annoying. That said, I still didn’t have any trouble completing the game.
In fact, the story is rather short, and I found the later parts disappointing. There’s a lot of profanity and some toilet humor in the dialogue, especially when playing as the younger generation of Rudds, and I had a harder time connecting with those characters. But my main complaint is that the story devolved into a tired cliche that didn’t deliver on the promise of the game’s weird world. Things felt rushed at the end too, and I got the sense that the author may have lost some enthusiasm for the game as development went on, deciding to wrap things up sooner than planned. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed the game as a whole, and it was worth it just for the excellent opening chapter. And it’s available for free, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out.
Plant some crops. Keep the government off your lawn. Play basketball with some hobos. Take a nap. It’s a strange place to visit, but I think you’ll enjoy your stay.