Innocent Life on the Vita, a futuristic Harvest Moon

As I’ve mentioned last week my handheld collection of devices has been expanded with a PS Vita, and I spent last week getting familiar with the device. And what better way to get familiar with it then playing games on it?

Looking through the PS Store I couldn’t resist checking if there was a nice Harvest Moon game in there that I hadn’t seen yet. I’ve found Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley, released in 2010 for the PSP, but upon various other searches through the database, another title caught my eye: Innocent Life. Searches online showed this title to be like a Harvest Moon farming sim, but with a twist. Officially they named it “a futuristic harvest moon”, and it was released in 2007. Opinions online vary: some people were lyric about the scenery in the game and applauded the differences between this and a normal harvest moon, others hated these same variations from the normal routine. Well, I like a challenge and at a price of € 9,99 I felt I could risk it.

First of all, the description. A futuristic harvest moon, so what would that mean? Well, I found out quickly enough. Sadly no choice between male or female, but aside from that my YvoCaro was a robot! That was a first!

The manual with the game described the situation perfectly:
Robot, HM games, arte piazza, marvelous“Life is good for the residents of Heartflame Island, especially since new robots and automated machines do almost all of the work. But technology is a tool–not an answer to all problems. Maybe that’s why everyone is a little uneasy a little up the old stories of strange magic and a prediction that Flame Mountain will erupt and destroy everything. That’s why Dr. Hope made you– because you can open and explore ancient places where no humans have ventured for many years. You have two years to appease the wrath of the Fire Spirit, otherwise the islands volcano will erupt and destroy everything. You must find the Water Spirit and convince it to use its power of ice to stop the volcano from exploding. However the Water Spirit won’t help you until you’ve found the Forest Spirit. Unfortunately this spirit has been separated into 3 spirits that you’ll need to find and then get them to re-join into the Forest Spirit. All this, while trying to learn to become human!”

At first the game seems like your typical harvest moon game, with a character who has to build a farm from scratch. This time though it’s not on an old farm, but on top of the Eastern ruins. And yes, you have to hoe, sow and water, but you are the only one doing it like that: everything in town is automated. When you go into the supermarket to get your seeds, a shopping cart follows you automatically. Your friend Marcy shows you around town, in her little car. And when you visit an animal farm, the animals are tended to automatically: milk machines, feeding machines etc. Even you yourself have to go in to a shiny pod at dr. Hope’s for your maintenance. Going from day to day, you take up points for cooking skills, intelligence, love, creativity and humor. Much like Data in Star Treks Next Generation, you grow ever more human.

So why did this game receive mixed reviews? Well, it differs too much from Harvest Moon to please the avid Heartflame island, farming, fun games, ladies gamesHM fans. No relationships are formed, no dating, and the people around you tend to say the same things. A month is 35 days, not the standard 30 days, and there are hardly any festivals. You do get some tasks to complete for another expansion of the game to unlock. Now my first appeal from HM games isn’t the marrying and forming relegation ships. I love exploration, questing, crafting and gathering. And there’s plenty of that in this game. With gems that you find who exploring you can not only unlock another piece of land, but it gives you access to doors that remained closed before too. The visuals are stunning, looking around in the wilderness everything is drawn to such detail. And the game does have a lot of extra things that I find quite intriguing: like you can buy a little balloon tent in which you can stay overnight in the wilderness, it has a gathering basket with a scale built in, because you can only harvest wild fruit to a certain weight. You can gather Spanish moss in the woods to put on your land, so you have to water much less.

I won’t tell you anymore for fear of spoiling the fun if you want to play this game. As long as you are not too partial to the elements from Harvest Moon that are absent here, and you are in the mood for a sort of Rune Factory game without the fighting, I can recommend you giving this a try. Looking at all they included in this game, the smooth gameplay and the stunning visuals, I can hardly believe this is such an old game. And for the price, certainly well worth your time!

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