I have finally put enough hours into this game to make me feel like I’m ready to write a fair review (over 55 hours in)! Okay, maybe I was ready a while ago… But anyway, I am excited because Story of Seasons (aka Harvest Moon) has been one of my favorite game series ever since my childhood. (Please note…if I say “Harvest Moon” I mean “all Harvest Moon games (including Story of Seasons) up to “The Lost Valley” because the latter, to me, isn’t a Harvest Moon game”).
For anybody who is new to the series, Story of Seasons (aka Harvest Moon) is a farming simulator combined with a dating sim. You play as a farmer whose task is to try and help Oak Tree Town become more popular. When you first begin, the town is very much like a ghost town with only a few residents. Your goal is to become a successful farmer and build up not only your own farm but the rest of the town as well. That’s a lot of responsibility and will take dedication as every Harvest Moon game requires. Along the way, the game encourages you to find a spouse to share your life together. The creator of Story of Seasons, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, emphasized prior to release that Story of Seasons would focus on everyday life and growing from year to year with the people you love.
Now…one of the biggest questions I had going into this game was whether or not they fixed some of the issues in Harvest Moon: A New Beginning that drove me absolutely insane….even though I put more than 100 hours into that game. Some problems I saw included cut scenes that can’t be fast forwarded, a chaotic customization system that was inconvenient and time consuming, and (although this is a small complaint) lack of detail in visuals. Those first two things…They really took away from the experience. I was thinking that if Story of Seasons didn’t correct those irritating things… I actually didn’t know what I’d do. Thankfully, I won’t ever have to think about it because Story of Seasons has done a great job at correcting those mistakes and adding in a whole bunch of other goodies.
One of the first things I noticed was the improved visuals. Although the style looks very similar to that of A New Beginning (ANB), there is added detail on the shading and the grass. I couldn’t wrap my head around the simple green grass they placed in A New Beginning. It looked like they made it in Paint to be honest… There was no detail, no texture…nothing. Story of Seasons was different in the sense that the ground actually had a variation of colors from lighter greens to darker greens. There were also some added textures that just enhanced the look. Add in the crunching noise that is supposed to be the sound of your character walking on lush green grass and I am satisfied.
I was also surprised at the addition of two separate difficulty levels. This has never been done before in a Harvest Moon game (at least not to my knowledge). I remember in an interview of Hashimoto (the creator) that this decision was made as a result of striving to make the game easier to pick up and enjoy by new players to the Harvest Moon series.
Next is the customization… In Story of Seasons (SoS) you can still customize your town and your own character but, your freedom is limited compared to how much you could do in ANB. Instead of being able to customize where every single building, sidewalk, and bush went, you can only customize in certain areas in town. While some people might be disappointed with the greater limitations, I find it to be a good decision made on the creators’ part. In ANB, having to line up all the sidewalks and buildings was just too much work. The game also didn’t make it very easy or convenient for me to effortlessly rearrange things. It became a very time consuming process because I’m one of those people who must have every path lined up. Everything has to look nice in my town or it’ll just bother me until I fix it. This is why I referred to the customization system as “chaotic and inconvenient” because that’s exactly what it was to me. Having less freedom in SoS actually gives me a digestible amount of space that I can work with without feeling like if I move one thing everything else is going to be messed up. More is not always better in this case.
There is one problem that SoS has that ANB didn’t: stamina and fertilizer… Why oh why must that old dude (owner of the general store in SoS) stock between 10 and 20 bags of fertilizer per day? Screw being realistic! Sell me 3,000 bags of fertilizer per day if I can afford it! This was frustrating to me because:
Main goal of game = Grow Lots of Crops + Grow Good Quality Crops
As a farmer, I would like to strive to grow more vegetables that are high quality. If fertilizer is limited it limits how many crops I can grow. You see how that can be a problem?
I also wish power berries still existed for those people who were around back when power berries were still in Harvest Moon games. I don’t like watching my character die just because I brushed one too many sheep. In ANB, I could completely fill the east part of the farm with crops and wouldn’t die and/or need to run to the store/maker shed to get more fertilizer.
As frustrating as this was, there is a way to sidestep the issue. It’s actually quite simple. Despite that, I still wish that there wasn’t a need to sidestep anything. (I can’t find the forum post I found help in but, if you’re having fertilizer and stamina issues just leave me a message in the comments and I’ll help you out.)
When I finally got over this flaw, I can honestly say it’s been pretty smooth sailing with this game. Aside from a horribly slow start due to my only source of income (selling my produce to a vendor in the Trade Depot) never being there when I needed them to be, I don’t really have any other issues with SoS. I am pleased with the visuals and am happy with the love candidates. Finally, I can play as a girl and not feel like a pedophile if I date any of the bachelors. That Mistel kid though…he is the exception. Does he look old enough to be dating? I don’t even think he looks old enough to be in high school… (If you’d like to see what I mean, please see the image below. Mistel is in blue.) Speaking of love, is it just me or are the lines between your character and his/her love interest a lot more sappy this time around? I don’t know about you but, I like it. It’s sappy but not cheesy…at least, not to me. I really hope that I’m not the only one who thinks so…
By the way, I chose Raeger. In my next play through, I will be playing as a guy and haven’t decided on the love interest yet. Was anybody else a little surprised they chose to name Reina…erm…Licorice? Why…
One new feature that is introduced to you very early on in the game is the ability to dive under the water and collect fish, clams and other things. I really liked this feature because it was quick, simple, and diversified the already plentiful list of things to do in SoS.
Another thing that I thought was done really well was the trade depot. I said earlier that when I first started the game there was no way to sell your goods until a vendor came to town… Sometimes that vendor wasn’t there for a while so it posed a problem. I was a poor farmer to say the least. In SoS, there is no longer a shipping box system like in so many of the other entries in the series. This encourages interactions between your town and the rest of the world in the selling and transfer of goods and livestock. After getting over that first bump where only one vendor came to town (and uncommonly at that), there was always a steady flow of vendors in the Trade Depot at a time. I always had somebody to sell to. Eventually, you even get your own shop which makes it even easier to make money on days when there aren’t vendors around. However, this feature doesn’t come around until you’ve unlocked several different countries’ vendors so to be honest, it takes away from the usefulness. Selling to vendors is more beneficial than selling using your own shop because it helps your town gain fame and will raise affections with those countries. Once you’ve unlocked at least 3 vendors (in addition to Silk Country), there’s usually a vendor in the square everyday. If the ability to have your own shop was available from the start it would’ve been much more useful and would’ve greatly helped with that initial bump. I do understand why they decided on it this way though because realistically, it is better to set up shop when your town is more known to the rest of the world. However, I still kind of wish they didn’t choose to do it this way.
In SoS, maker sheds are done a little differently than past entries. Instead of that one little machine that you had to make and would appear in one building on your farm, you build separate themed buildings that are dedicated to one certain product. For example: There is a cheese house (bottom left) that is made for the development of not only cheese but mayonnaise and butter too. There is also a cheese rack that you must place your cheese on to age. That wasn’t a feature that existed in past entries in the Harvest Moon series.
The sewing house holds all of the necessary tools to make clothing and yarn. In addition, you also have the option to build a pottery house (bottom right), a seed making house, a winery (upper right), and a spice factory. In so many ways I see the designers coming up with new ideas to make the game more realistic. If you check my pros and cons section, you’ll notice that I put “efforts to be realistic” in both categories. Some efforts, such as the addition of extra steps in making goods like cheese (cheese aging racks), are appreciated. Other efforts, such as limited fertilizer, not so much.
Sometimes I think I’m overcritical with these Harvest Moon games… I think it’s because I love them so much (if that makes any sense at all). Of all the reviews I’ve done on this site, my Harvest Moon reviews are, by far, the most harsh. And yet, at the same time, they always seem to make it to the top of my list of favorite games. This time is no different.
SoS has its faults but, it only gives the game developers a way to improve in the future. With an added assortment of new crops and animals to raise as well as improved controls to make the player’s life easier, SoS is a big step up from ANB. Overall, I’d give this game a strong 9 out of 10.
- More detailed visuals
- Less complicated customization
- Better love interest choices
- More convenient menus/access to menus
- Added features (like the Safari and diving)
- Tons of variety of livestock (like rabbits and goats) and crops (Super Mario themed plants!)
- Quicker ways to finish your chores (for example: holding down a button to water crops)
- Efforts to be realistic that make the game more interesting
- Addition of two difficulty levels (for newcomers and veterans alike)
- Lack of fertilizer
- Limiting stamina
- Efforts to be realistic that end up hindering the player’s progress
- Lengthy tutorial
Anyway, that is all for this review of Story of Seasons. I hope you guys enjoyed it because, I certainly did! If you guys have any questions about anything I may have missed or would just like to discuss the game, leave a comment! I’ll try my best to help you out!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. For the next two weeks I will probably not be able to post much due to my schedule becoming very hectic from now until mid-May. After that, I will have plenty of time to blog and work on some of those posts I never got to. Hopefully, I can squeeze a post in here and there. Thanks again!
Source: Story of Seasons Feature Image || Story of Seasons Villager Fan-Art || Story of Seasons Turnip Crop Image || Watermelon Summer Crops Image || Customization Penguin Male Image || Pottery House Image || Winery Image || Sewing House Image ||