Harvest Moon: One World (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 23.03.2021 1

Review for Harvest Moon: One World on Nintendo Switch

Natsume Inc is back with a brand new entry in their long-running farming simulation series, Harvest Moon. Previewed in an exclusive demo event attended by Cubed3's very own Harvest Moon fan Nayu, Harvest Moon: One World, developed by Natsume Inc and Rising Star Games, is set in a world where variety in crops is scarce due to the absence of the Harvest Goddess. The protagonist sets out on a journey to revive the deity and save every town, each of which has its own unique problems. Only farming can resolve these issues and players must use both familiar series elements and a few new ones introduced for the first time.

From the start, Harvest Moon: One World uses the cute, brightly coloured graphics familiar from recent titles in the series. This style may not suit every player but those who appreciate it will be thrilled to see all the pops of colour in the initially barren lands the farmer encounters. Later on, clothing and hair colour can be adjusted, but the character selection options are limited to six options for skin tone, hair and eye colour. This feels basic considering the choices similar experiences offer, with only the choice of medium brown, light brown, black, blonde, green and what looks like pale purple present here, which may not suit all players. However, seeing the female MC's hair and skirt swish as she runs just about makes up for that limitation and never grows old. There is gender allocation at the start but the main character is frequently referred to using the gender neutral terms "they" and "them". The cute style applies to every character and even the current weather shown in the top left corner has a charming appearance.

Starting out with the protagonist living at home with a mother and no father or siblings, a well explained tutorial plays out explaining how to move and highlighting the basic farming methods that can be revisited any time in the help menu. A new mechanic in the series is soon introduced: seeds can be received as rewards for fulfilling quests, and after enough of a crop has been shipped in the sales container they can be bought in certain stores. Most seeds, however, will be collected throughout the land by the main character themselves.

In the tutorial, an adorable harvest sprite named Vitae, who becomes the key guide, explains that the simpler looking wisps are the bright lights in the world who give up a seed when approached. The seeds do respawn fairly quickly, although the rarer varieties take longer to respawn and the time of day plays a part in which seeds are available. This provides a far greater variety of crops from the start of One World, meaning the humble turnip, while a viable option, isn't the only vegetable available. There is a seed search function on the map where up to three different seeds can be searched for in known seed locations, with an image of the seed produce appearing on the map. It doesn't show what time of day the wisps will appear, though. Later, the map can be used to warp around the world to locations where the area's harvest sprite has been freed.

This variety in produce adds a whole new element to the Harvest Moon series. Exploration of the land is heavily encouraged (and in fact required) to complete main story quests and the plentiful side quests. Some side quests are repeated throughout the story, so creating a stockpile of certain crops is advantageous. Seeds can be stored in the drawer and food kept in the refrigerator, both which have expansions that are acquirable from Doc Junior. The exception to this is the bag which is upgraded by your created character's mother at several key points in the story. This didn't always make sense because the protagonist is encouraged to take a gift to their mother, so choosing an egg or a bottle of milk ended up being pointless because a different gift appeared to be given in exchange for a bag upgrade which is always needed.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: One World on Nintendo Switch

Thankfully, no matter the size of the bag, drawer or fridge, the items can be sorted into pre-set categories within the storage container, making it easy to find a particular seed or food. Ores and gems gathered from the several mines, each boasting unique materials, can also be stored in the drawer, although for their full value to be taken advantage of when selling them they need to be processed by Doc Junior for a small fee.

Unlike other farming simulators, what makes the Harvest Moon series enjoyably different is that there is no need to constantly be physically choosing which tool to use; the correct tool needed for the job is automatically picked. This timesaving feature simplifies gameplay and simpler does not mean less enjoyable. On the contrary, it provides a more relaxing element that adds to the laidback atmosphere in Harvest Moon: One World. While there are key goals needing completion to continue the story as well as a fairly fast and non-adjustable daily clock, there is no real rush to hurry through the goals. There is much joy to be had in exploring an area, gathering up the unique seeds, returning to the farm and planting them in the fields which are already marked out - even though the squares still need to be tilled with a hoe before sowing the seeds and watering them.

Trees can only be planted in tree spaces and do not need nurturing after the initial plant. Fulfilling Doc Junior's quests leads to new tools that make farming easier: sprinklers are a timesaver for any type of farmer, although there is something relaxing about watering crops with a watering can. Later on, a small work table is added to the main house so furniture can be changed. Wall decorations and themes, including DLC, need to be purchased from Doc Junior before first use. The wardrobe provides a quick way to change clothes once it is unlocked, although clothes can be bought before the wardrobe is available.

Tool upgrades make a return, although these aren't as easily marked as previous Harvest Moon titles. It's necessary to talk to every character repeatedly as some hold the key to unlocking more powerful tools. It took far too long to figure out how to upgrade them as not all the upgrades necessarily involve Doc Junior. Once understood, the tool upgrade system is fun and really helps speed up farming, allowing for more fields to be used at once. The only issue with this mechanic is that seeds are sown and crops harvested one at a time regardless of tool upgrades. There is no holding down the action button to sow multiple seeds or gather more than one fully grown vegetable of the same crop as in previous entries like Harvest Moon: Light of Hope. Those who enjoye a slower pace of farmer will be content with this, but those who prefer farming on a larger scale using multiple fields may be displeased by this change - especially with the fast pace at which time passes.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: One World on Nintendo Switch

Just as in previous entries, growing crops isn't the only way to earn money: animals play a huge role in Harvest Moon: One World. There is only one barn which is split in two: half has space allocated for five chickens and the other has space for three larger animals. These numbers are a little odd as in the past, five chickens was the norm but to only have room for three other animals rather than five like in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope feels like a small downgrade. However, the barn can be expanded to add an extra room which can be accessed by walking through an internal door with space for five more chickens and three more animals on the other side. It is possible to get rid of animals if a certain type is required for quest purposes, although it is a hard way to say goodbye to a creature that has been cared for with love from day one.

This is far less cruel than the fact that animals do indeed die in this title. Finding out by losing a beloved fox that had been a huggable pet from the start was devastating. To be fair, previous Harvest Moon titles have implement this technique, and while it is realistic, being told by the animal herder that the animal has gone peacefully makes it no less pleasant. Animal longevity appears to be at least a year in-game, and giving the replacement animal the same name helps to ease the grief. They may only be pixels on a screen but the attachment to in-game pets is real.

Their lives may be shorter than expected, but there is a wide variety of animals to have as pets, from foxes and cats to bears and tigers. The standard farm animals such as sheep, cows and goats exist, with various types being unlocked once the main story is completed. Rarer breeds are needed for specific quest items. There are many horses to choose from but since the horse counts as one of the larger animals in the barn, it may be wise to hold off on getting a horse since a different animal is needed in the main story to access a certain area.

Similar to the familiar routine of growing crops, there is a certain number of steps that happen in taking care of an animal. Any animal bought starts off as a baby, so it will be a few days until they produce goods that can be sold as they are, or turned into a food item of a greater value. Petting them helps improve friendship and they can be brushed, milked or have their fur combed, with chickens laying one egg daily. Animals can be allowed to graze in the farm area by ringing a bell but when there is more than one room to a barn, only animals from one room can graze at a time. The others, if out in the fields, will automatically be returned to the barn. It is advisable for the animals' health and wellbeing to remove any deposit that can be used for fertilizer once a day, and the food will need to be added manually each day. This reviewer's favourite animal is the Jersey cow because it has a heart on its face, in keeping with the charming stylised theme.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: One World on Nintendo Switch

Quests are a key feature in Harvest Moon: One World. They can be ignored so the player is free to do what they want, but in order to get tool upgrades it is advisable to periodically fulfil some of the main requests that are easily identifiable from the side quests in the menu tab. Tasks usually revolve around obtaining a set number of an item, often a crop or by-product from an animal. Rewards include seeds, fishing bait, and fertiliser, all of which are useful to a farmer. Fulfilling quests may also help improve friendship levels with characters, something that is vital when trying to befriend a future husband or wife - which has to be of the opposite gender - although not all characters are eligible to be married. Naturally, Brendan the cow farmer is the best choice for a husband and he can be found in the first town. While initially grumpy, he has a sweet side and a hidden talent that few know about. The NPCs are varied in their personalities and add a lot of humour to the game. Some are on the spiky side and are unhappy with socialising, but interact with them frequently enough and they will open up. Others are friendly from the start. Nothing bad will happen by ignoring residents; focusing on farm work over friendship is a perfectly acceptable style of play. Gaining character hearts leads to unique events that are needed if marriage is pursued, though.

The aim of the main story is to solve puzzles in all the areas to awaken the harvest sprites, which will eventually lead to the Harvest Goddess waking up. This ultimately results in more flowers and decorations in the world, which initially has very little growing in it. Including some side quests, story completion can take around twenty hours - less if the focus is kept strictly on completing the main goals. Time passes rather quickly - perhaps too quickly - but there is no way to slow the clock. However, apart from festivals there is no real need to worry about time as crops can be planted out of season if fertiliser is used to keep them growing.

Crop location becomes important when focusing on mutations, which help fill up the encyclopaedia that covers crops, seeds, farm animals, pet animals, fish and dishes made from produce - a must for those with collecting instincts. With the correct ingredients, dishes can be cooked in the kitchen; these are more important than they seem, especially in areas with extreme weather. A cold or warm drink will help reduce energy being lost at a higher than normal rate. The story's end might be when the credits roll or when every possible item is grown, caught, and collected; or perhaps it may never end. That is entirely up to the player to decide.

Screenshot for Harvest Moon: One World on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Aside from a few limitations and exclusions in the mechanics department, Harvest Moon: One World is an exciting addition to the famous series from Natsume Inc. Dozens, if not hundreds, of hours can be spent befriending town residents, taming wild beasts and being a good farmer so the world can prosper and people can eat more than just potatoes. Different landscapes and climates provide region-specific crops and creatures that expand beyond the basic types initially available, adding variety throughout and beyond the main story - not to mention the house decoration mechanic and wardrobe to expand with new clothes. The invention of shrinking the farm buildings at the touch of a button makes it easier to build and manage a vast farm empire that benefits the entire world. This is one for every farm sim fan to check out.

Developer

Natsume

Publisher

Rising Star Games

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 05.03.2021   North America release date 02.03.2021   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date 05.03.2021   

Comments

aghbbhrh (guest) 30.03.2021#1

The fact that this is another attempt to leech of the Harvest Moon brand, most commonly associated with the, now called, Story of Seasons brand is not even mentioned in this review. This seems like a bought review.

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