Have ever thought about leaving your 9 to 5 job? Tired of the daily grind? Just feel like packing everything up and moving out of the city to get away from it all? With Story of Seasons for the Nintendo 3DS you no longer have to wonder what that would be like.
Developed by Marvelous AQL and published by XSeed Games, Story of Seasons is part of the beloved Japanese Bokujo Monogatari series, better known in North America as Harvest Moon. While previous games in the series have been localized by Natsume, XSeed Games recently picked up the North American rights and changed the series name to Story of Seasons. Unlike last year’s release Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley a series spin off, Story of Seasons is a true Harvest Moon game that fans have come to love for almost 20 years.
Story of Seasons is developed by Marvelous AQL and published by XSeed Games
Release date: March 31st, 2015
Rated: E10+ For Everyone ages 10 and up
Genre: Farming / Life Simulator
Consoles: Nintendo 3DS
Embark on a farming adventure
In Story of Seasons you play as a new farmer in Oak Tree Town, a thriving community with friendly townspeople. You will meet unique characters with their own stories like Giorgio, a flamboyant farmer with a keen interest in flowers who has been featured several times in many of the farming magazines, and Veronica, Oak Tree Town’s Guild Master who is in charge of managing trade relations with other countries.
Oak Tree Town is laid out so that the many shops are easy to find and navigate to. You never know what you may find at the General Store; Otmar, the store owner offers a wide assortment of farm tools, seeds, animal feed and more. The Trade Depot overseen by Mr. Jonas is host to many different merchants from other countries. Items can be sold and purchased; many times you can find items that you can’t find anywhere else. That’s not all you find in Oak Tree Town there’s also a restaurant, Antique Shop, Clinic, Carpenter, and more.
Farming Made Easy
Story of Seasons offers two different levels of difficulty. Normal mode is for those players who have played previous games in the series and are accustomed to what it takes to make it in the farming world. The second mode is called seedling mode, designed for new players to the series and allows an easier challenge by reducing the cost of items 30%, doubling the amount of seeds available to purchase, and reducing the amount of stamina that each task use. Wondering what mode you should choose? Both normal and seedling mode offer the exact same great story and easy to learn gameplay mechanics. Even though I had played previous games in the series, I chose seedling mode for a more laid back pace.
If you like customization then Story of Seasons is right up your alley. Everything is fully customizable, from skin, eye, and hair colour, to facial expressions, and gender. I had quite a bit of fun customizing my character. I choose a male with a grumpy face, jet black hair, and apple green eyes, which made my wife happily chuckle. Later on in the game you can even make your own clothing and purchase accessories such as glasses, hats, earrings, and necklaces to name a few.
There many things to learn in Story of Seasons, you will need to complete a one in-game week of training before being cut loose on your farm. I was delighted to find that if I had ever forgotten how to do something that I learned, such as taking care of animals, swimming, crafting, planting or tending to crops, it was easily available for me to look up. Each topic is represented as a “book” on your bookshelf in your room, both during training and after.
Managing your life on the farm
Just how your health is important in real life, so too does this hold true for this game. Your health is represented by a stamina bar in the top left hand corner of the upper screen on the Nintendo 3DS. If you overwork yourself and lose all your hearts, you instantly collapse. Your character is immediately transported to the Clinic in town, a place that I was all too familiar with early on in the game. I soon remembered what I had learned from training and started eating fruits, vegetables, and meats to regain my character’s strength before collapsing.
Time and resource management is critical in Story of Seasons; to be successful in the game you must have a steady income by planting and harvesting your crops. By the end of the second week I had a full days’ worth of work to complete each day. Crafting must be fit into your busy schedule; you can build just about anything by purchasing blue prints and gathering the required materials. My wife and teenage daughter really enjoyed decorating and arranging each of their farms with different furniture, and wallpapers making it their own unique home.
This may sound like a lot, but Story of Seasons makes it easy get into the swing of things by not forcing you to take on more than you can handle at one time. The sense of accomplishment in taking care of your farm and expanding it is very rewarding and satisfying.
Meeting new people
After settling into your new home, it’s time to make friends and maybe pursue a romantic relationship with your new neighbours. A variety of eligible bachelors are available to talk and get to know, like Fritz who is always cheerful and glad to help out, or Raeger, the restaurant owner who is never at a loss for words and has a kind nature toward the ladies. There are also plenty of eligible bachelorettes, like Elise, who is a daughter of a wealthy family and has lived in luxury and comfort her whole life, or Lilie, an energetic weather girl who is popular with everyone from small children to the elderly.
With six candidates per gender, there are plenty of opportunities for romance. Three different wedding options are available, each costing more than the previous one: a simple wedding, super wedding and a gorgeous wedding. You, and spouse can have children, and if you are lucky maybe even twins. Much like Animal Crossing, and Tomodachi Life, you cannot have a same sex marriage here either.
Farming with friends and family
Up to 4 players at a time can connect and play together, via local wireless or online with an internet connection. What makes this multiplayer mode unique and interesting is that players are equipped with a magic wand and by waving it over a crop the quality increases, leading to a more plentiful crop. When your magic wand is waved over an animal, it decreases the animal’s stress level, keeping it happy and healthy.
Another neat feature of multiplayer is gifts. Inviting people to your farm requires you to have one gift per visitor, and visiting farmers will have to bring one gift to give. Gifts are available for pickup at the Guild in your town, after each multiplayer session is completed. I quickly discovered that the gifts need to be picked up after each visit to the farm, otherwise they are lost and only the last gift received is available.
My family and I spent hours upon hours having fun visiting each other’s farms, giving and receiving gifts amongst ourselves and with other players online. A chat window is available on the bottom screen of the Nintendo 3DS, and you can either choose to express your feelings via Emote icons (happy, angry, sad, concerned, blush, surprised, thinking) or via text chat.
Story of Seasons offers its own unique visual charm that you will love. Character representations have an authentic Japanese feel that are well detailed, with bright colourful graphics, the country side and town look lovely. Slowdown is noticeable in some areas of the country side but to be honest it did not really deter from the game at all. The 3D effect offered by the Nintendo 3DS is nice but in this game it really is not necessary and does not add any value.
Each season in the game has its own set of different music tracks, some will have you humming and whistling, while others I found repetitive and turned the sound down all together. All the expected farm animal noises are present here, and surprisingly, even the insects make their own noises. I was delighted to hear the distinct shrill of the spring cicada while foraging around the countryside for materials.
Story of Seasons is a game that appeals to all types of gamers. My teenage daughter who adores playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Tomodachi Life fell head over heels in love for this game. My wife who enjoys playing The Sims 4 was instantly addicted, and my 11-year-old son had fun playing the game. Unique characters with their own stories, a living town to discover, explore, trade, and sell, combined with addicting gameplay makes, this game a worthy purchase.
+ Easy to pick up and learn how to play
+ A game that appeals to all members of your family
+ Interesting and unique characters with a fitting backstory
– Slowdown is noticeable in some areas of the game
– Slow pace of the game may deter some players
– Heavy focus on time management
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 3.75/5 (75%)