Game: Harvest Moon: One World
Genre: Farming simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4 and Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: Rising Star Games | Natsume Inc
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $49.99 | UK £39.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: March 5th, 2021
No review code used, bought the game myself
What’s in a Name?
Do you love a good farming simulation game like I do? Then chances are that you are very familiar with the games that are called Bokujo Monogatari in Japan, having been around since 1997 in the West under a different name: Harvest Moon. Marvelous AQL was the developer of the Harvest Moon titles before 2014, with the games being localised and distributed by Natsume in the US, and by Rising Star in Europe.
You see, in 2014 Marvelous decided, from then on, to publish the games themselves in the West. Problem was that Natsume held the rights to the name Harvest Moon. Which is why the next Bokujo Monogatari was called Story of Seasons over here. And Natsume decided to start their own farming simulation game series under the old name of Harvest Moon.
Are you still with me? Just wanted to make it clear that this review is about Harvest Moon: One World brought to us by Natsume! So let’s look at the game. And if you already have it on your Switch, be sure to check out our Beginners Guide here.
Save the World
The world is a rather bleak place. You find yourself living with your mom in a world were raising crops or animals seems a distant memory. You have a book though with the most awesome images of other things to eat then the potatoes you find in the wild. But can there ever be such things as seeds?
After pulling up some potatoes one day YvoCaro sees a blue light. Following it she finds a Harvest Wisp, who gives her a seed. That is something she has never seen…the thought of growing something yourself!
Anyway, this leads to meeting Vitae, the Harvest Sprite of Life who gives you a Medallion of Life. She explains there are only 6 in total in the world, and it’s up to you to search for them. If you manage that, the Harvest Goddess will return and along with her, Bountiful Soil, making farming much easier.
With this inspiration YvoCaro packs up and leaves home, with her mom smiling encouragingly!
Farming on the Go
Luckily you get some help from next-door neighbor Doc Jr. He comes through with a very useful device: the Expando-Farm, to set up a farm anywhere you are. Very handy! The robot taking care of this is called Sparky and you can kickstart this power source by feeding him food stuffs. As soon as you reach the first hamlet of Callison you can set up your farm and be ready to go.
Expando-Farm is the first sign that things in this farming game are different. There are more things that farming game veterans might have to get used to. You can’t buy seeds in stores, you find them when you click on the blue lights you see dotted around. They are plentiful and make for an interesting way to sow your seeds. No more grid planting like I usually do, no other choice but to plant them haphazardly around. As you can’t plant anywhere, the squares are pre-ordained.
It’s clear from the start how to proceed the storyline. You have to take care of the main quests and pretty soon your world will expand by magically repaired bridges. There are side quests too and when the world gets bigger, the game works well in pinpointing them on your map.
Eventually a fast travel system is unlocked, but at the beginning my YvoCaro had sore feet from walking many, many miles, in a landscape that isn’t very interesting to travel through. Each area does have a different feel and season, but the lanes you can walk in are pre-determined, no straying to look further. And aside from some wild animals you can pet it’s pretty empty. Of course stamina depletes very fast, even from walking around. Days are very short, and as always, there’s a lot to do in tending crops, animals, mining, fishing, cooking and more.
Many Crops and Animals
There are many kinds of seeds to get and they have a instruction on them in which season they grow best. But as I didn’t pay attention to that I found that they seem to grow in every part of the world, maybe taking a bit longer t before I could harvest them.
There are a lot of different animals to raise too, but it’s slow going at first before they unlock. But I do like all the variations and wide variety, makes for something different then what we are used to.
What I like as well is the mechanics of farming: no need to find the right tool to use. The game does that for you only by clicking A. An unworked tile of land brings up the hoe, after which you can choose your seed. Want to add fertilizer? That’s next, after which you automatically water. It works the same when taking care of your animals.
One World but Rather Lonely
Like the landscape, the characters you meet are sparse. Every town has a few houses and one or two shops. You can buy stuff here, but the characters don’t have any other line to say. There are some people about too, but they often don’t have a name, just characterised as Awkward Man or Forgetful Woman.
Harvest Moon: One World does feature dating, and the bachelors and bachelorettes have a bit more meat to the bone. They stand out in the main storyline, are often suspicious at first of my little YvoCaro but warm up to her once she makes their town bountiful again.
I played the game in handheld, which for the most part works fine. There are, however, some stutters when walking about in the long empty lanes. The music is clearly for background use, but nice and relaxing enough. The graphics are okay, but you always look at the scene from above, no way to move the camera.
Harvest Moon: One World isn’t part of the long standing series of games that went on under the name Story of Seasons in the West some years ago. Nevertheless, it focuses on the same game idea and audience. While I’m not sure it’s a good idea to seek competition with Story of Seasons by releasing in the same month, I did like my time in One World.
Is it as good as as Story of Seasons games? No it’s not. In comparison the world feels empty and the characters a bit flat. The dating scene could use some sprucing up too. But judged on its own by this farming simulation fan I can honestly say I enjoyed it. The developers tried out some novel ideas, like the Expando-Farm. And not having to bother with scrolling through your pocket for the right tool: the game always does the right action at the right time. An excellent range of various crops and a new way to get your seeds. The farming itself really felt fresh to me.
So even though I wonder if the price point isn’t a bit high and the opinions on the internet vary quite a bit on Harvest Moon: One World I must say it kept me playing for quite some hours. But I want to add, keeping my comments above in mind, the game should have been offered at a significant lower price point than the competition’s game.
Final Verdict: I Like It