I will say it until I cannot say it anymore: I will never get tired of farming games. I’ll shout it to the rooftops again and again. And almost every time I do say it, a new game comes out that exceeds my expectations. Cornucopia is a unique farming sim developed and published by Subconscious Games, and while only in Early Access, there is still so much to do.
Near the wonderful town of Cornucopia, you find yourself saved by Farmer Rufus and the town’s doctor, Andre. You were frozen in a block of ice, and really, it’s a wonder you survived. Of course, it doesn’t help that you can’t remember a thing. Thankfully there’s a farm with a house in Cornucopia that no one uses, so they’re kind enough to give it to you so you can start your life anew.
Upon moving into Cornucopia, you’re free to do as you’d like. Explore the town, plant some crops, make friends with the townspeople—speaking of townspeople, is that girl following you? Is she taking pictures? Yes, as you walk through town you’ll be stalked by a conspiracy theorist named Naomi. But she’s only here to ask for help, and she’s the one who starts Cornucopia’s storyline.
There’s a tale of magic that Cornucopia used to possess, that came from 13 gemstone fruits and the Golden Straw. Turns out, you were frozen for 100 years when that magic still existed. Naomi asks you if you’ll recover the gemstone fruits by befriending the townsfolk defeating any monster bosses necessary to rekindle Cornucopia’s magic. It’s up to you.
As much as I’m always happy to play a farming game just to farm, when there’s an epic storyline that gives me quests to do with an end goal in mind? Well, it really doesn’t get much better than that. Cornucopia introduces a lot of fun and unique features that make the farming process more involved. Instead of just hoeing, planting, watering, harvesting, and repeating, there’s another process, and that’s composting. Instead of being seasonal, crops in Cornucopia rely on having good enough soil levels to grow properly. You can check the levels with a magnifying glass you’re given, and there are four to keep an eye on: Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Bioactivity. The soil levels will start off pretty bad, so you’ll have to compost different materials to get different composts to boost those stats.
Composting isn’t the only fun mechanic in Cornucopia. When using your tools, you gain more experience, and upon leveling up you get some rewards. Using your tools will also charge them up, and when their bar is full then you can use their Special. The watering can will water more spaces, the torch (your weapon) will hit for more damage, etc. There’s a pet-companion mechanic where your pets and farm animals can accompany you on your journey and help you break rocks, cut down trees, and kill enemies. Fishing was a unique experience as well, as there’s really no skill involved. Instead, it’s set up as a Plinko game.
Perhaps the most addicting part of Cornucopia is the cards system. Upon discovering a new area, leveling up, completing a quest, or simply buying them yourself at the arcade, you can be rewarded with a card pack. There are differing types of packs including scratch-offs, quests, and regular cards. With scratch-off cards, they work just like lottery tickets. Get three of the same item, and you win it. There are recipe scratch-offs too for you to win a recipe. Quest cards will give you a quest you can activate, and the other cards can do a plethora of things like give you more energy or make the bakery items cost less for three days. There are a lot of fun cards to discover.
The art style in Cornucopia is a unique 2.5D pixelated style, and I honestly don’t think I’d have it any other way. It adds to the cutesy environment and the fun soundtrack. There are a lot of characters to meet, befriend, and marry, too. I do have to say, though, that aside from any cutscenes, I only ever saw a handful of the same people around town. At the time of writing this review, however, I believe that pathing is something that’s being worked on. The people that I was interested in, I could never find outside of festivals, making it hard to motivate me to continue looking. But the characters I did get to meet were all so unique. Each character has a cute character profile that unlocks information as you discover it, including their favorite foods and their birthdays. There’s also their age, occupation, where they live, and whether they’re single or married.
To touch more on the cutscenes, they’re used to move the story along in Cornucopia. You’ll have to walk to different places throughout town, sometimes completing a quest, and by the last cutscene, you’ll get one of the gemstones you’ve been searching for. I do like that this is a way of getting to know the townspeople more, however, it feels like a cheap way to get the gems you need. Although you’re present in every cutscene, you rarely ever do anything. You just sit there and listen, and ultimately get a reward out of it. I do hope that in the future, you’re able to actually become a part of the scenes.
I also hope to have more control over other aspects in Cornucopia, such as choosing which bait I want to use when fishing. There was also a task where I had to bring someone cooked food. I was working hard to prepare the ingredients to make a certain dish, but when I tried to move a dish I was gifted to my fridge, that was automatically taken from me instead. It wasn’t the biggest deal, but it was still frustrating. With combat, because that’s also a necessity to move the story along, I hope it becomes clearer how enemies hit you. I feel like I can’t dodge anything no matter how far away I am from an enemy. I’ll jump away before they do their attack animation and still get hit, which is also a little frustrating.
There were more things I wanted to mention, like a few bugs I experienced or some key-binding issues, but as I’ve played Cornucopia, there have been many updates rolling out addressing these issues. I have to say that the developers of this game have gone above and beyond to answer any questions the community has had and get as many bug fixes out as possible, and that’s a huge plus.
Transparently, I haven’t experienced all that Cornucopia has to offer. I did end up having a bug that wasn’t exactly game-breaking, but it was progression-stopping. My watering can disappeared, and I needed it to move on with the story (as I needed to grow certain crops for certain gems). The developer did what they could to get it back to me, but unfortunately, it just wasn’t working. I would have needed to start over, so I didn’t get to finish.
Overall, for an Early Access game, especially by today’s standards, Cornucopia blew my expectations out of the water. The unique aspects that have been added to farming, the engaging storyline, and the amazing and attentive devs make for a wonderful EA experience. There’s so much to do that I don’t think I could touch on it all if I wanted to, so I highly recommend you check it out for yourself.
Inanna played Cornucopia on PC with an Early Access review code.