Review | Harvestella combines a role-playing game and a farm simulation – the end result is hard to understand

Harvest is a mish-mash of genres published by Square Enix that does a lot of things mediocre but nothing great.

Publication date: 4 November 2022
Studio: Live Wire
Publisher: Square Enix
Available: PC, Switch (tested)
Players: 1
Age limit: 12
Game played for evaluation: about 20 hours

There is a lot of buzz among games that combine life simulation and farming. New titles pop up like mushrooms in the rain, but at the same time old favorites seem to hold their ground. It still shines as the absolute number one Eric Baron developed by Stardew Valleyand the following are far behind Story of Seasons- and Rune Factory – game series.

At Harvest takes its own starting point in the genre. It’s a Japanese role-playing game at heart, mixed with a bit of farm life.

The events of the game take place in a world where giant Seaslight crystals guarantee a smooth change of seasons. As the seasons change to another, the residents have to face the cruel Quietus period eye to eye. During this short event, the crops left in the fields die and people do not dare to leave their homes. For one reason or another, the season called the season of death has started to last longer every year.

Harvestella’s amnesiac hero wakes up on a rocky hill near a village called Lethe. As a result of mixed events, he ends up living on a deserted farm in the company of another person who has lost his memory. However, there is no easy life on a farm and sitting in a rocking chair, but our hero and his friends begin to unravel the mystery surrounding the Quietus period.

At Harvest

The good thing about the initial setup of Harvestella is that this time it is not moved to the farm of the late grandfather, as is unfortunately often the case in farm games. However, the developers have fallen into another well-worn cliché used all too often in video games, i.e. planting a character who has lost his memory in the main part of the story.

Despite the small irritation, at least the beginning of the main plot is interesting to follow. However, the best part of the story is the numerous side quests, which at best make the corners of the eyes of the most sensitive players wet.

Before we get into the world to play, we create our own game character. Unfortunately, character creation leaves a sour taste in the mouth, as there are very limited customization options. Gender is selected from three options: male, female or non-binary. In addition to this, the color of the hair and eyes is modified. There are two options for the avatar’s body structure, masculine and feminine. Hairstyle, clothing or other details cannot be changed, which is why your game character remains very generic and dull looking.

At Harvest

After recovering from the shock caused by character creation, I guess we’ll finally get down to real action?

Fat chance! The first couple of hours of Harvestella are spent working on a kind of tutorial, during which the player is held by the hand and explained how the game works. And there’s nothing wrong with that, twisting iron wire is useful for first-time users of the genre. The basics are so familiar to the big consumers of Farmisimue that during the slow start, the atmosphere may slow down.

Farming feels strangely detached, somehow not glued on – as if the feature was thrown into the game just because why not. By growing plants, you earn money and get raw materials for crafting, but it has no deeper meaning than that. Sure, I’ve only played for 20 hours, maybe towards the end of the game farming will have a deeper meaning?

The work on the farm still goes smoothly. First, the soil is raked until it is sufficiently soft, then the seeds are thrown in and the plant is watered with a very strange watering can. Let’s wait a few days and open, the field will flourish.

In the traditional way, different animals can be brought to the barn. The selection is also strangely narrow in this regard, as only Cluffowl chickens and Woolum goats are available. Where are the cows? Or cats? At this point too, the developers have clearly gone from where the fence is lowest.

At Harvest

The four seasons are strongly present in the world of Harvestella. The game’s four big cities are decorated according to the theme. For example, in Nemea cherry blossoms bloom all year round and in winter The Holy Capital of Argenea is covered in eternal snow. The changing landscapes are beautiful to look at and even though the graphics are of familiar Switch quality, the game is still a joy to the eyes for the most part.

The real-time battle is perhaps a little too simple at first, i.e. just by pressing one button. Little by little, the player gets access to different abilities, thanks to which things become at least a little more interesting.

Enemies can be defeated with swords and other weapons in various dungeons and forests. In addition to the hero, there can be two other characters in the group at a time, and you can customize your battle team to suit your own play style. The fighting and adventuring itself goes smoothly after the initial awkwardness, but the Rivakka passage of time becomes a problem.

As it is partly a pharmacy simulation, the ticking clock in the background rushes forward at breakneck speed. The times of the day change at a rapid pace, so adventuring in the dungeons turns into a race against the clock. When night falls, the player must head home or sleep in the middle of the dungeon. If this happens, a small fee must be paid to the local doctor for rescuing the hero.

The constant rush starts to get annoying, because you don’t have time to explore the areas as thoroughly as you would like. Fortunately, save points are sprinkled throughout the dungeons, but you have to manage to find them before darkness falls.

At Harvest

There are several different character classes available, which are called professions in Harvestella. At first, a traditional fighter is used, but as the story progresses, the selection expands with, for example, a mage, a healer and a kind of rogue. You can change professions even in the middle of a battle, so you don’t have to stick to one character class.

I don’t understand Harvestella.

For the first couple of hours, all areas feel so cramped that you want to stop playing in the middle. However, everything will change a little for the better, IF you just have the patience to give the game a chance. When you compare Harvestella to other works of the JRPG genre, it does not reach their level. If you compare it to farm simulations, it is not up to their level either. Unfortunately, Harvestella remains a disgustingly mediocre all-round planer.


Rating: 3/5

“Harvestella remains in all respects a mediocre collision between a Japanese role-playing game and a farm simulation.”

Source: by

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