Uniting the world one farm at a time.

Harvest Moon is one of my favorite video game series. I’ll admit I don’t play the newer ones nearly as much as when I was younger, so I’ve missed out on some of the recent titles. I was excited to review Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos not only because it is the newest title in the series, but also because it’s kind of a celebration for the 25th anniversary of Harvest Moon. The first farming game, like ever.

Harvest Moon has evolved so much over the years; sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse. How will the newest installment fare compared to other more recent farming sims? Let’s take a look.

I stumbled upon this series by accident. A friend’s mom bought it for her on the Nintendo 64, and we assumed it was going to be the most boring game ever. Cut to three weeks later, when we are absolutely obsessed with a video game about farming and starting a family. It sounds boring, but it was so relaxing, and so chill. One of the best parts for me were the random interactions you could trigger with the various characters and bachelorettes. They make every playthrough a little bit different, and they make you want to form relationships with all of the villagers.

Over time, Harvest Moon started to become a little less exciting and a lot more complicated. I’m still interested in what the series has to offer, but nothing beats the first few games.

The Winds of Anthos definitely feels new in a lot of ways. First and foremost, the best part of this game is the exploration aspect. This is the first open-world Harvest Moon game, which was very interesting.

In order to explore, though, you must first complete the prologue. This is probably the worst part of the game. You’re just starting out, so you don’t have much and you have to complete some main quests in order to unlock everything the game has to offer. Something you will really appreciate are the warp statues. These are placed throughout the map, and usually in every town. They come in really handy when you need to get somewhere fast. You will end up using them a lot later in the game. It felt like there was a lot of wasted space in the field areas, and you won’t want to waste energy hiking around all day for no reason.

Speaking of energy. You start out with five hearts (you eventually gain more, but this takes some time). As you work and move around the map, your hearts will deplete. In my opinion, they dwindle away pretty quickly. You can replenish your energy by eating meals you cook or buy from the local restaurant. Or, you can forage for food/ingredients around the map to snack on. I always tended to run out of energy kind of early on in the day. Days last around 15 minutes, so it’s hard to make your energy last the entire duration. Literally everything takes energy, besides talking. You can talk all day, but be careful when walking, running, chopping down trees, smashing rocks, tending to crops and everything in between. Thank goodness you can warp and get a horse later in the game, or I don’t think I could have taken it much longer.

Everything else is pretty much the same as far as the farming and forming relationships go. The one difference is that this is the first Harvest Moon game where you can marry a same sex partner (how futuristic of them). You can talk to people or give them gifts to increase their relationship with you. Once you get them to a certain point of affection, you can marry them and even start a family. The good ol’ American dream!

There are five different towns to discover, each with their own themes and terrain to explore. There are also a lot of different animals you can befriend or use as an alternative mount to your horse. For example, you can ride a zebra or even a unicorn if your heart desires.

As far as your farm goes, you will need to water your crops daily, feed your animals—you know, the usual stuff. You can eventually upgrade your farm and add new buildings or move things around. There’s a little bit of customization, but not much, especially when it comes to creating your character. You can edit skin color, gender, hair color, and eye color. That’s it. No facial features or clothing (until later in the game when you can purchase a few outfits).

When it comes to aesthetics and performance, Winds of Anthos is lacking. The game froze twice on me in the beginning of my playthrough; everything I did that day had to be done all over again. It was pretty annoying, and I didn’t know when or if, it was going to happen again.

I also noticed some frame rate stutters. This didn’t happen often, but it happened enough to notice and be irritated by. I also am just not a fan of these graphics. They feel cheap and overused by so many games. It feels a little generic, in my opinion. And as I mentioned before, there are many open areas in this game that I don’t feel are being utilized properly.

What I did like was seeing the seasons change, interacting with wild animals, watching the pretty night sky, and experiencing the different variety of terrain and weather.

Overall, Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is very similar to recent Harvest Moon titles. I honestly prefer the “old skool” gameplay and graphics; they were straight to the point, and everything didn’t seem like such a chore. However, I have to give Winds of Anthos props for trying out an open world farming game. I feel like it adds a lot to the story and gives the player many more options when planning out their day.

Once you get through the prologue, the game is a lot more tolerable and fun. If you have some patience and you’re a fan of Harvest Moon, I definitely recommend checking out this latest installment. But for players looking for something fast-paced, like Stardew Valley, you may want to skip The Winds of Anthos for now.