When TechRaptor’s CEO sent Farnham Fables around looking for a reviewer, he admitted he did so with the intention of getting me to take the game, knowing that I have a strange love of bad video games. About thirty minutes later I had finished Farnham Fables – Episode 1: The King’s Medicine and I understand why he did it now. I have some difficulty calling Farnham Fables a game because there’s barely anything to it. I do not, on the other hand, have any problem calling it terrible.
The game starts when a young rat-girl named Cally visits the Farnham Castle with her aunt, Naigye. There they meet the king of Farnham who tells them the story of his three sons, Fredrick, Flewdor, and Philip, who ventured out to the lizard-people village of Glekutsu to gather medicine for him when he had a cold. Along the way, they discover that there’s a child missing in the woods and make it their goal to find her. There’s very little substance to The King’s Medicine‘s story. The whole thing feels strangely pointless thanks to the admission that the king would just get better with a few days of bedrest, while the missing child and the “monster” in the woods barely conveys any urgency or care.
Worse yet is the game’s writing. At times it’s just bad: both of the game’s child characters talk with an insanely over-done “child” voice that is neither cute nor endearing. It’s just annoying. The game is also tonally all over the place. At times, I assume the game is more meant for kids with its heavy-handed messages and childish conversations. Then a lizard woman with her boobs on full display shows up, and if you try to have Fredrick give her his sword he “fantasizes about her riding his sword.” The game’s setting is also all over the place technology-wise as well. The castle, princes, use of horses, and the village of Glekutsu all suggest a fantasy theme, but then you can see a painting by Bob Ross, take a ride on a bus down a modern highway, and Cally carries around a doll of a Final Fantasy IX character. So maybe it’s modern day as well. This isn’t even getting into the particularly weird part where, upon finding the missing child and offering her clothes back to her (she was swimming in a lake before she went missing), she refuses to put them back on which makes Fredrick “really happy.” Maybe it did, but it made me really uncomfortable.
Farnham Fables is your basic point-and-click game. You’ll have three characters traveling together, and each character has a unique skill and unique item. Fredrick has his sword for hitting things and can search an area thoroughly. Flewdor has a book for referencing and can study things closer, while Philip has a medical bag that he never needs, and can tend to animals. Technically Cally also has her special item (the aforementioned Freya doll) and skill (she can poke things), but she never needs to use either and you only play as her for five minutes at best, so they’re more for flavor. Each character can also pick up, talk to, give, and interact with items and characters they find, plus each item and character has a few unique interactions as well. Theoretically, you would be using these skills to solve various puzzles.
In practice, The King’s Medicine only actually has a single puzzle, and it’s only barely a puzzle at that. It’s more of a pixel hunt because the solution is to have Fredrick use his search ability on a small batch of pixels hidden in a bush. Of course, you may not even think to look that way since several red herrings are distracting you from this. There’s a rock with a “perfectly pebble sized hole” that you can find, and pebbles you can pick up. You can even put the pebbles you can find in the hole. This does nothing at all. While it took me about thirty minutes to finish the first episode, a solid twenty of those minutes was me running around highlighting every section of the game world until I found something I haven’t interacted with yet.
I didn’t want to interact with much either, for Farnham Fables isn’t exactly a good looking game. The art style is serviceable at best, and ugly at worst. An early scene where Cally accidentally runs into the king was hilarious simply because the king has this horrifying face that doesn’t convey much of the joy that it’s meant to. Instead, it makes it look like the king owns an unmarked van that offers free candy. The soundtrack is similarly unpleasant, mostly just looping the same few notes over and over again. This is assuming it doesn’t cut out, which it tends to do.
Farnham Fables – Episode 1: The King’s Medicine doesn’t just give a bad first impression, it gives a terrible one. I’m not sure if there’s any hope for future episodes without a complete and total scrapping of this one and starting over from the beginning. It needs more everything, feeling lacking in content despite its low price. The best advice I can give is just to avoid this one. Did you know the first episode of the new King’s Quest series is free?
Farnham Fables – Episode 1: The King’s Medicine was reviewed on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the developer. The screenshots come from the game’s Steam page. They are perfectly fine representations of the game.
The first episode of Farnham Fables is not a great start to a series. It's tonally inconsistent, has no real gameplay to speak of, doesn't really look all that good, has an annoying soundtrack, and did a great job making me feel super uncomfortable.