Publisher: Freedom Games
Developer: Enjoy Studio
ESRB: Not Rated
My whole time playing The Witch of Fern Island, I couldn’t help but feel like the game was missing something. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was, but there was just something a little off about the whole experience. It wasn’t until I was looking through screenshots of the game for this review that it hit me what it was: even though this game is about a witch, there’s not much in the way of magic going on.
I mean, yes, you gradually learn a few spells, and the game starts with the main character, Abrill, falling off her broom and crashing onto the eponymous island. But when right down to it, The Witch of Fern Island isn’t a game about magic. It’s a game about farming and building up your social circle and going on fetch quests and basically just getting into the rhythm of life on Fern Island.
In other words, it’s Harvest Moon. Or Fae Farm. Or Story of Seasons. Or any of the dozens and dozens of other games that allow you to farm and fish and build friendships. There’s not much original to be found here, is what I’m saying.
To be fair to The Witch of Fern Island, it’s still in Early Access, so it’s quite possible that by the time the game is ready for full release, it’ll be substantially more magical. But seeing as the magical elements here are focused around things like changing the weather and removing pests from your crops – as opposed to, say, any of the spells you might find in Hogwarts Legacy – it’s clear that the point of magic on Fern Island is to help you fit in, rather than to do crazy magical stuff.
The problem with this is that the quests here aren’t very interesting. You have to spend a lot of time wandering around, looking for things to do – and when you find them, that often leads to even more wandering, looking for the items you need to complete your fetch quests. The game never figures out a way to make you settle into a fun rhythm of getting quests, solving them, and rushing onto your next one. Instead, the world is too empty to be fun, and the discoveries you make while searching for quests and/or items to help you complete your quests never seem worth the ultimate payoff.
Again, The Witch of Fern Island is still in Early Access, so it’s totally possible that the developers will build on what’s here and turn the game into something worth playing. But that’s certainly not how I’d describe the game at this point in time, so until and unless it gets there, it’s really not worth your money.
Freedom Games provided us with a Witch of Fern Island PC code for review purposes.