I’ve been waiting eagerly to play Story of Seasons ever since I saw it on the show floor at E3 last year. As a long time Harvest Moon fan I can say it’s been exciting to see the series evolve while still maintaining its popularity over the years. Story of Seasons was developed by Marvelous Entertainment and published by Xseed Games. They will not be using the Harvest Moon title in North America due to Natsume’s ownership of the name. Still, A lot of the ‘Story of Seasons’ development staff were involved in the Harvest Moon series so the 2 games’ mechanics are very similar. Don’t get me wrong, I also noticed quite a few differences that I really enjoyed. So get ready, buckle up those overalls, put on some boots and prepare to work, a lot.
Welcome to Oak Tree town, a quaint little mountain village surrounded by forests and rivers, full of many interesting characters. When beginning Story of Seasons you can choose from 2 different modes. Original difficulty and an easier option called Seedling mode. While both modes play the same there are some slight differences. If you choose Seedling, it will take less stamina to perform your daily chores, the items you can purchase from the shops around town are %30 less expensive and you don’t need to ship as many items to unlock new vendors in your town (which I will get to later). This makes the game quite simple and a little less frustrating if you’re new to this type of gameplay.
After that you choose your gender and character appearance (skin color, eye color, facial expression and hair color). You can change your appearance later in the game and add different accessories and clothes to your farmer as well as changing their hairstyle. Being able to customize is definitely a plus for me, seeing as this wasn’t possible in many of the Harvest Moon games. When you’re satisfied with how you look, you’ll then pick a date on the calendar that will be your birthday. This game, like Harvest Moon measures years by giving you a month’s worth of time for each season. For example, I chose the 18th of Summer as my birthday.
Story of Seasons is a very complex game. Luckily it is abundant with tutorials, but not in a sense that overwhelms you. I’ll also add that after each tutorial a book explaining that topic will be added to your bookshelf if you ever need a reminder on how things work. The first week of your new farming experience you will be living with a kind old lady named Eda, while the guild leader Veronica is getting your land prepared. Eda will teach you all of the beginner farming skills you need. She also gives you an allowance of 500 gold every day, pretty nice for someone you just met. The week long tutorial was the only part of the game that I found a little exhausting. Even if you choose the Original difficulty mode you still have to go through learning ALL of the basics. Luckily you can press the X button during cut scenes and speed things up a bit if you already know what you’re doing.
After the first week is up, you are the official owner of your very own farm and are now able to move in. This is when the game truly begins. Veronica shows you to your new house, which is actually something like an old run down shed. But do not fear, Story Of Seasons has made it possible for you to customize pretty much anything on your land. You can edit where certain items are on your farm and rotate them giving you the chance to really make it your own. Besides that, after you’ve acquired a craft table from one of your neighbors, you’ll be able to create your own furniture, tools, clothes and upgrades from blueprints that are purchased around town. One more thing that I thought was neat about the editing modes is, after you have progressed so far in the game you are able to edit parts of the town outside of your land, pretty cool!
Working throughout the day will deplete your stamina (the 5 hearts in the top left corner of the screen) so don’t over do it or you might faint, this will only effect you for the rest of that day. This includes using any tool and swimming, yes you read that right. A new feature in Story of Seasons lets you swim and dive for goods to sell! You can equip tools and items through the inventory menu, accessed by clicking the icon on the touch screen or pressing the X button. You can also register a number of items to a ‘fast access’ menu that you can use by pressing R, this is helpful and saves time while working. Using the tool is done by pressing A, which is also used to pick up items or speak to other villagers when your hands are empty. The d-pad lets you zoom in or out from your character, giving you the option of a close up or far away view of the game. I had no trouble figuring out the controls or how to use them and if you do, don’t worry there’s a tutorial for that too. Or you can have a quick glance at the games manual.
Story of Seasons starts you off with very few items or materials in the beginning of the game, there is a general store and an antique shop in the village but they do not carry much inventory at all. In order to turn your town into a thriving tourist attraction with a booming economy you must trade items from your village with different vendors that will visit your Trade Depot. When a specific vendor comes to your village they will pay for your items (pretty much anything you can pick up, including items you create at your craft table) and bring their own inventory of items, blueprints, recipes or animals for you to browse through. As you progress and ship more goods, more vendors and items become available to you. You and your friends can also connect locally via Wi-Fi and help each other on your farms or just explore each others towns.
While I love to play Story of Seasons I feel like its lacking just a bit in the graphics department. The opening cut scene to the game and the character art is pretty awesome but I feel like they could have done a bit more with the details in the environment. Not to say its an eye sore but it could be better. I liked the music but it can get a bit repetitive at times, nothing that’s going to drive you insane though. I also noticed that quite a few of the sound effects throughout SoS are from some of the previous Harvest Moon games, this small addition made me pretty happy as a fan. Oh and I almost forgot, this wont be a big deal to some of you but if you press the B button your character will jump, which is something I have never experienced before in this series. Just wanted to throw that out there.
Aside from farming and swimming you will also build relationships with the towns people, woo the boy or girl of your choice and start a family. This will trigger events that let you become closer to your neighbors and also unlock things or new areas in the game. Story of Seasons isn’t one I would recommend to anyone who considers themselves a hardcore gamer, but its a great addition to the already awesome library of 3DS games. Its going to take some hard work and dedication to build a successful farm and life but its a fun process that I’ve put almost 17 hours into (and I’m not even half way through my first year) something new is happening all the time keeping the game fresh and keeping you on track. If your a fan of the long running Harvest Moon series or any other farming simulation game then I highly recommend taking a trip to Oak Tree Town and starting your very own Story of Seasons adventure!
PN Review: Story of Seasons (3DS)
Fun, rewarding gameplay
Story of Seasons is a farming simulation RPG that’s very similar to the Harvest Moon series. You must build your land and reputation from the ground up, literally. By harvesting crops and shipping items you find around town you can prosper and create the farm of your dreams. Packed with plenty of content and customization Story of Seasons is a game that requires some hard work on your end but its a fun rewarding process that will keep you coming back for more.