Early Access Preview code used, with many thanks to Stride PR.
The Witch of Fern Island is an adventure farming sim game, released in early access in May 2023.
In The Witch of Fern Island, you take the role of Abrill, a witch in training who, while travelling, crashes on Fern Island. While on the island, Abrill must prove her magical mastery by passing exams and quests and becoming the island’s Witch.
While playing as Abrill, the player grows herbs and magical plants, raises animals, learns recipes, forages in the woods, makes friends, and discovers the island’s secrets. You can customize Abrill’s appearance and cottage and name her cat familiar.
The gameplay mechanics are intuitive – everything that sparkles can be collected, including resources such as wood and stone or ingredients like acorns, mushrooms, etc. You can also use tools to chop, mine, dig etc. You can grow herbs, craft amulets, do rituals, cook, fish, sell, and even shop at the town market.
While playing as Abrill, you also take on quests and tasks for the island’s inhabitants and also uncover the island’s secrets, its unique culture, and its guardians.
The map of the island is relatively big and can be freely explored. I’ve seen that there are multiple ways to get from one place to another. You can travel by foot, or at a later stage; you can use some kind of vehicle, such as a broom. For going home, you just teleport using your house key.
The one limitation you have while exploring is time. Abrill’s day starts at 7 AM and ends around 2:00 AM at the latest. If you try to play past 2:00 AM, the game warns you to go home, and around 3:00 AM, you pass out and wake at the island’s infirmary. When that happened to me, I also lost some of the progress I’d made at that late hour. It doesn’t matter if your energy bar is complete; when 3:00 AM hits, you will lose all of it.
The other way to lose energy is by doing tasks such as chopping wood, mining stone, and so on. You don’t lose energy by travelling, even if you are running extra fast. You can recover some energy by sitting on benches, eating, and sleeping in the cottage. Those ways also help if you lose some health by falling from a great height or running into some of the dangers of the woods- bees and poisonous plants, for example.
The farming part of the game works like any other game – you buy and are gifted seeds, and you plant them, grow crops and harvest them to use in food and potion recipes. You will also forage for a lot of ingredients. Almost everything in your inventory can be sold in a stall in front of the cottage. It’s a good idea, but unfortunately, what you collect, sells cheaply, and what you need to buy is usually very expensive. Even repairing your tools, which break down after some use, can be costly. In that regard, some adjustment to the prices would be nice.
The Witch of Fern Island is simply a beautiful game, it is colourful and well-populated with animals. The people we encounter all have their distinct personalities. The environment is gorgeous; lights, colours, and appropriate sounds when foraging. Hopefully, at some point in the future, there will be even more people on the town’s streets, mulling around.
Some Final Thoughts
The Witch of Fern Island has all the markings of a great game. Great visuals, an engaging story, many quests, and customization options. It allows you to fulfil all your cottage-core dreams of owning a cottage in the woods, collecting herbs and mushrooms, and brewing potions while being part of a tight-knit community and unlocking magical secrets.
Early Access Condition
The game is in Early Access, and it shows. For me, I didn’t experience any framerate drops, but I had two errors, which sent me back to desktop. However, the developers are constantly updating the game, they’ve already released four patches improving the overall playing experience, and they seem to have every intention of continuously doing so. In addition, within the game itself, we can see hints of the features to come, which also seem very exciting. Even in the state of the game, I can see myself spending many more hours on Fern Island.
You can find The Witch of Fern Island steam page here.