The Homestead Arcana Logo with the main character tipping their hat at the viewer.

Homestead Arcana Review

Game: Homestead Arcana
Genre: Farm Sim, Magical, RPG, Adventure
System: Steam (Windows) (also available on Epic Games Store and Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: Serenity Forge | Skybound Games
Age Rating: US E10+ | UK 7+
Price: UK £16.99 | EU € 19,99 | USD $19.99
Release Date: April 21st, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Skybound Games.

Homestead Arcana is a magical farming simulation game from Serenity Forge and Skybound Games. This adventure game is part sim, part adventure game, and all magic.

The Gameplay and Story of Homestead Arcana

Players are a witch in Homestead Arcana who has gotten a farm to help the remaining human population to get enough food to survive. The land is scarce now that the Miasma has taken over most of the world, and the human race knows it has little time left. However, they still want to eat, so you have a job to do.

A screen capture of the setting sun in Homestead Arcana.
The setting sun looks kind of pink through the Miasma.

As a witch, you are uniquely suited to growing crops as they basically need magic to get started. Players have a watering spell and a spell to grow veggies, fruits, and other necessities as quickly as possible. You can then sell all your crops to the local flying vendor who visits every morning.

A screen capture of the main character receiving mail, brought to them by crows.
The mail system is a little archaic, but hopefully, none of my letters gets lost because a crow saw something shiny.

Players begin with a tent to sleep in, some basic seeds, and not much else. They will need to scour the healthy forest and the tainted lands under the miasma to get everything they will need to build, grow, craft, and fight against the growing environmental crisis in their neck of the woods.

A screen capture of the crafting system in Homestead Arcana.
There are several different crafting stations, and each one only has a few options.

The gameplay in Homestead Arcana is similar to most games in the genre; players can use their mouse and keyboard to interact with items, cast spells, collect materials, and other necessary movements. There is a lot to do in this game, but the controls to do all those things are fairly simple.

The Look and Feel of Homestead Arcana

The cartoonish look of Homestead Arcana is very much to its benefit. It’s simple and beautiful in a way that hyper-realism would be able to do; my computer already has to strain to run this game on fairly low graphics settings. It’s pretty smooth overall, though, and my gaming laptop is getting a little bit old, though it does have a fairly high-end SSD.

Homestead Arcana has this kind of emptiness in it, but it ruins the overall effect. You have to walk pretty far to get from one thing to another; it feels like it was spaced out to make the timer on the mask filter to keep the miasma out more important. There is a lot of walking or running to get anywhere, making the world feel big but also making it feel like there is nothing to interact with. In the first portion of the game I played, there are no NPCs to talk to except the shopkeep, no animals other than your familiar cat, and very few items to pick up in the world.

The apples that grow on trees in Homestead Arcana come in the shape of crabs.
They are crab apples, get it?

While you might think this would be neat later on in the game, giving players plenty of room to stretch out and build, the spaces delineated for farming, building, and expanding are excessively limited. There is only room for maybe 15 plants if you really cram them together; the rest you have to hope to come across in the wild.

A picture of a plant being watered with a water spell.
You have to also take care of your plants back home, harvesting, watering, giving compost, and more.

There is also a limited amount of space to build up your home and put all the many crafting stations around too. Overall, there is a lot to do, but it seems like the game is working to keep you from doing too much at once, which makes me wonder if they are masking how much there actually is to do.

I Couldn’t Play Anymore

I never got the answer to how much there is to do in Homestead Arcana because I guess I encountered a bug. After upgrading your mask for the first time, I got a quest to sprout the third tree in the Miasma. But I had already sprouted it before, but this didn’t complete the quest, and there were no other possible locations to sprout another. I tried to play around with it, but I couldn’t since you get one quest at a time.

A screen capture of a tree being harvest for its branches in Homestead Arcana.
Players will need to spend a good amount of time every day harvesting growing things around the area for wood, metal, and other building materials.

I liked the look of Homestead Arcana, but I didn’t have much fun actually playing it. It had all the hallmarks of a good, fun farm sim, but it kind of fell apart. I’m only 2.6 hours in, but I was just so frustrated with the whole process that I couldn’t make myself start over to get around the bug. Here’s is some of the stuff that bugged me:

The main character of Homestead Arcana sleeping in a bed.
You can only sleep at night and can’t sleep to pass the time.

There is no way to pass the time; if you want it to be the next morning so the shop is accessible, you must waste time elsewhere instead of sleeping. In addition, the weird limitations on planting placements and building land. Also, How massive the map was with how little there was to do on it.

Finally, the mask forced you to constantly exit the Miasma so you could go back in and resume what you were doing.

This is a screenshot of a Dust Tree, one of the plants used to push back the miasma that threatens the world of Homestead Arcana.
These Dust Trees help the player to push back the Miasma and make things a little safer.

I also came across many enemies but didn’t see a way to fight any of them. The upgrade for the mask requires something called Wild Bat Feathers, but like many items in the game, Homestead Arcana doesn’t tell you where or how to find it. I just was wandering around in the Miasma and came across it accidentally.

The run speed is still pretty slow; that, coupled with the empty but big maps, made everything a little frustrating. Thank goodness there wasn’t stamina, or else I would have given up earlier. That bug, obviously!

The main character traversing inside the miasma with a filtered mask on.
You can travel through the Miasma for short periods of time, but not for long.

Homestead Arcana is Pretty and Fun

Despite all the issues I had, I still liked the game. It’s not the best farm sim I’ve played; honestly, it feels unfinished. I like the concept, the look, and a lot of the crafting stuff in the game, but it just feels like a lot of things have been left out. Maybe if I had been able to play longer, I would have unlocked more things, but the thought of starting over from the beginning was so disheartening.

Teh main character of Homestead Arcana wearing what looks like a plague doctor mask.
Does this mask make you look sick?

The story is pretty dark, considering the genres this game lives in, which made it even more interesting to me. Despite that, it was hopeful, which was something that I deeply loved about it. Maybe someday, I’ll get over my reluctance to restart it and will try it again from the beginning.

The sound design was fine, the graphics fine, and the way the game ran was fine. I just wish there was less empty space.

The main character of Homestead Arcana picking up items around the forest at night.
While you can play at night, the game will eventually force you to go to sleep.
This is screen capture of Homestead Arcana's main character running around the woods looking for food and materials.
You must search for everything you’ll need to get farming and building your house.

Conclusion

Overall, I would have to say that Homestead Arcana is aggressively okay. It tries really hard to be fresh and different, and I appreciate that. However, the amount of empty space makes it feel unfinished. There was a bug that seemed to ruin my playthrough, and there were no NPCs to talk to give me a better sense of place.

While I had a cat to chat with for the couple of hours I played and a shopkeeper showed up every morning, it was so lonely and vast that I felt how the world was falling apart. This could have been used to the game’s advantage, but it just fell flat instead of using that space to remind you of what you left behind to become a farmer at the very edges of the safe zone.

I like Homestead Arcana; I feel like it has a lot of positive things about it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is in great shape currently.

Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure
I'm not sure

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