Harvest Life - Boerderij Leven

Harvest Life Review (on Switch)

Game: Harvest Life
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Rokapublish
Publisher: Rokapublish
Price: € 29,99| $29.99 | £26.99
Age rating: Europe 7+|America E
Release Date: 30th November 2018
Also available on STEAM

Review code kindly provided by Rokapublish

Harvest Life is a farming game that made its debut on Steam, but also made it to the Switch at the end of November.

Now as you can imagine when I come across a farming sim my interest is immediately caught: there are many initiatives at the moment to bring games inspired by Harvest Moon to market. And to me, that’s a good thing: more variety.

So let’s look at Harvest Life. The game was released on Steam first a year ago. And as is often the case, the reviews and comments on Steam have made the developer work hard to change things around and add stuff. And now, with all minor bugs and requested changes in gameplay, we get the newest version on the Switch.

No memory loss this time 

That’s refreshing: you play the main character that doesn’t have memory loss! You just decided to go and visit your grandfather after you got a letter from him. And before you know it, he has left you in possession of a derelict farm. The lesson here is to beware of family leaving you property 😅

Grandpa is kind enough to stick around for a while to give you some instructions. And after that, he just sits on a bench outside and gives you orders. Like. Plant 5 carrots, milk the cows 3 times and such. 

The tutorial is minimal. The fact that I’ve often played farming sims helped though: sow, water and harvest. Took me a while to realize that I don’t have to do other things I’m used to: seeds seem to be in my pocket constantly, with a choice of carrots, beet, tomatoes, cabbage or pumpkins. I don’t have to buy them, and the stock is limitless. 

I don’t have to till the ground or clear rubble. Instead, new tiles of farming land are added by paying for them. Much like you do in mobile game HayDay. My water supply is in a little blue bar, next to a yellow and red one. Going to the river fills up the water supply. Crops have to be watered so they don’t wilt, but rain will do the trick as well. 

Mini games in the daily tasks

Your carrots and beets are used to make fodder for the animals. They picked an inventive way to do this: there’s a machine next to your house. You put produce in and take fodder out which fills your red bar. To make it work you need electricity and that is generated by a little mini game on the side of your house. Pressing A and B alternatively does the trick.

There are more mini games in play: cutting wood is a mini game. So is fishing. And what do you know, the blasted fishing mechanics of Stardew Valley are in here too! I’m lucky that the fish is more sluggish and obliges me by staying in one spot for a longer time.

What are the goals of the game?

Every farming sim has goals and bottle necks. Goals in wanting to build a beautiful farm and a big farm house. Or getting married in the game and have your children do your farm work for you. And bottle necks are in place in the form of money, stamina etc.

So what are they in Harvest Life? In this game, making the biggest and best farm is the challenge too. Being popular and finding your other half are too. Just to be clear, I’m nowhere near getting married yet, but then I’m always bad at the social stuff. However, I do notice that the response from other people in the town next to the farm is a bit generic. 

People give you quests, like a little boy asking you to find the dog in the catacombs. Fulfilling the task gets you some good and the friendship meter will fill up. But when looking at the bigger picture, good is what you are after. 

Everything you and your animals produce goes in a stall in your farm. People wander in and buy stuff from you. And money makes the Harvest Life world go around. You need it to expand your farm, to open up blocked roads, to get new animals and upgrades to your farming tools and weapons.

The bottleneck in this game is truly annoying: your need for food. You have to eat a lot to keep going, and there’s no kitchen to enhance food. So you pluck berries or eat your eggs raw to keep up.  Sleeping is another must to fill up a bar of health. Luckily when you manage to reach your bed at night, it fills up quickly.

If you fail to eat or sleep in time, you are brought back to your farm and punished by losing a small amount of money. Might be a good alternative when you are far away without a quick travel option! 

Fighting and building

Harvest Life includes fighting, but I miss reaping any benefits from the enemies I’ve slain. There’s experience of course, but I fail to see what this does for me. No item drops or even gold when I slay a wolf or a skeleton. You do find the occasional gold chest in the dungeon but that’s it. I feel this part of the game should have been fleshed out more. 

As I mentioned before, you can enlarge your field by buying the ground tiles you need. But that’s not all: you can also buy buildings, animals and such in the same way. It feels like in Harvest Moon: a New Beginning. But in that game, you had to gather materials to build things. In Harvest Life it all comes back to gold. Which is a pity, as the idea to work on enhancing your farm this way is a good one. 

Controls and visuals

The characters in the game are kinda cute, and you can choose how they look. Your view on the game is from above, but you can zoom in to get a better look. I have found it hard to read the letters in handheld, even though I have my reading glasses.

I think the developers took inspiration from Stardew Valley: when you cut a tree you don’t actually feel the connecting thud. Instead, three swipes of your axe does the trick. In Stardew with its retro look it’s what you expect, but in this visually pleasing game I had expected more interacting with the objects that you work with. 

The buttons you have to use change depending on your job at any moment. B is to fill the fodder through, but it’s also used to pick the right seed and milk the cow. A is for planting, watering and harvesting and plucking berries. 

It can be a bit confusing then that when you enter the woods to fight the wolves, A is for fighting and B is for picking things up. 

The game is available in many languages. For instance, over here in the Netherlands it’s called Boerderijleven and it is entirely playable in Dutch. This makes the game suitable for smaller children.


I have thought long about the score that I want to give Harvest Life. On the one hand I feel all initiatives at a farming simulation game coming to the Switch should be applauded. But on the other hand I feel the game has so much more potential. Collecting materials and proper building should be added. The town should have more buildings where you can actually interact. And although the addition of questing slaying wolves and skeletons is nice, it should have more of a purpose.

The developers however have shown that they can stay on top of things in making adjustments. So I hope this Switch version will get some updates where some added gameplay is in order.

Added to that, the price point seems a bit steep to me. Compared to the two main competitors, it’s twice the price for Stardew Valley. And though it is cheaper then Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, Harvest Moon delivers a lot more content.

Harvest Life may be a good game to ease younger kids into farming sims with the various languages available. Plus, it is available in physical form, always good for Santa’s list.

For now though I can give it no more then an “I’m not sure..”

I’m not sure

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