After talking to you about Harvest Moon, in this review we bring you the analysis of its direct competitor of the month, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
The dispute between Natsume and Marvelous has given rise to two series with different titles, but a very similar original imprint. If the first company was able to keep the rights to the Harvest Moon name, Marvelous had to change direction and create a new brand. Story of Seasons was born in 2014 with a first chapter on 3DS and several subsequent iterations, including the highly inspired chapter dedicated to Doraemon and the excellent Friends of Mineral Town. Lovers of country life and farming simulators have often found excellent material in these two series, albeit with different intentions and objectives.
At the beginning of March we told you about our partial disappointment in playing Harvest Moon: One World, with a detailed review that you can find by clicking here. In the same month, however, its direct competitor, if only spiritual, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, was also released, this time exclusively for Nintendo Switch. The premises are diametrically different from One World, much more traditional than the genre and more related to the real management of the farm. Let’s start step by step and start this Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town review!
Anyone who has played a previous title in the series will already know the “narrative incipit” that will welcome you after customizing your avatar, which as always can be a man or a woman. Sick of city life, your protagonist will decide to move near the charming Olive Town and to restore the decadent farm of his grandfather, bequeathed to him. After an exhaustive tutorial that introduces the classic mechanics of the genre, explained in the form of dialogues with the mayor and the inhabitants of the town, you will find yourself in possession of the basic tools of the trade.
Addiction – Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Review
Ax, hammer, spade, watering can and sickle will be your friends right away, but later you can expand your arsenal with many useful items. Basically, your job will be to cultivate everything possible on your plot of land, customizable as much as you like, and sell the products of the land at the end of the day to earn money. Money that will be indispensable both to buy new seeds in the city, and to repair the various structures present in the (gigantic) plot of land you own. In fact, if in the first few hours you are relegated to a single area, consisting of a small mine and a chicken coop to be repaired, on completion of the work on the south-west bridge, a second area will be opened, at least twice the size of the first.
And it is precisely here that Piooners of Olive Town offers its best: the ability to be addictive. If you are passionate about the genre, you know very well that one of the most fun things to do is to plan any activity. This new chapter of Story of Seasons offers a myriad of possibilities every day, putting before you not a single big goal, but multiple paths to pursue. Whether it’s the next area, a new structure or a trunk where you can grow mushrooms, you will always know what to do and how to do it, it will be up to you to choose the order. And although it is the passing of the seasons is rather slow, every day you will go to sleep knowing that the next will be full of commitments, rocks to break and food to prepare for the exploration of the mine.
Crafting crafting crafting! – Review Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
The focal point with which Story of Seasons: Piooners of Olive Town differs most from previous productions is the crafting. The creation of objects has become central in this chapter, making the accurate and progressively greater collection of materials even more indispensable. Our protagonist will learn new “recipes” as he increases his skills in various activities, such as cutting trees or cultivating land, and you can reach the list of those learned from the inventory menu. As you continue, however, you will also learn how to manufacture the various “machines” for work, which will allow you to transform raw materials, such as wooden logs, into something more elaborate, such as planks, essential for repairing structures.
Although this mechanic can be interesting at first glance and actually gives much more depth and richness to the management of the game economy, on the other hand … the machines to be created are really many. Spices, condiments, woven with thread, woven with wool, lumber, ingots, jewels and so on and so forth. There is a machine for any creation, and soon our farm was overwhelmed by a long line of unsightly machinery. Considering how very similar some products are to each other, the developers could easily have group them into categories, or to evolve a basic machine into an increasingly advanced one.
From Creation to… Feelings – Story of Seasons Review: Pioneers of Olive Town
However, crafting remains very interesting to manage and indispensable to carry out the various requests from the residents of the city. In addition to those that will be entrusted to us by the mayor, and which will also indicate progress in the “history” or an expansion of a given shop in the town, we will also be able to carry out a mission per day, obtainable in the Municipality, to earn some extra cash. For the rest, Olive Town is a small sub-map in which we will be able to really buy everything, from the essential seeds to grow, to new animals to upgrades for the house, tools or our backpack. There will also be several mini-games
Another important step in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is the creation of bonds and relationships with the NPCs present in the city. From the earliest stages of the game, the developers will encourage you to talk to the various residents, to discover the sides of the character and start making friends. There are also five boys or girls to choose as suitors to embark on a real romantic relationship, which should also lead to the formation of a family over the hours. Too bad that, from the point of view of characterization, virtually all residents are flat as a sheet of paper.
Peacefulness – Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Review
Few of them will have lines of dialogue other than those regarding the event of the moment or the arrival of a new store in the city and even the various suitors will not be all that interesting. A pity, because aesthetically speaking the potential “crushes” are all cured and different from each other. And anyway, in the end, your one and only love will always be the beautiful border collie that you can buy in the pet shop.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a game that was born to relax. The challenge level, which can be selected from the beginning, is however set downwards. You won’t have to use who knows what strategy, you can simply enjoy your stay in Olive Town and manage your finances and resources as you see fit. An underlying tranquility, the one that emerges from the title of Marvelous, which is also reflected in the aesthetic style, characteristic of this type of productions. The characters are all hatched in a deformed style and are all different from each other.
Fat Cows – Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Review
Animals are the cutest animals ever created in the franchise, especially if we look at the pets that you can keep around the house with you. Even the Both rural and city settings are aesthetically pleasing and detailed. Too bad for the lack of stability of the title, which suffers from numerous frame rate drops and occasional application crashes (very rare for us, there has been one in more than thirty hours of play). Let’s add to the list of inexplicable things, considering the production type, the length of the uploads a bit too pronounced. A couple of days before day one, an update was released that should have stabilized the title more, especially from the point of view of crashes.
From an audio point of view we don’t have much to say, the various soundtracks are all very minimal and are repeated perhaps a little too often, but they are not unpleasant to hear. A pity there complete absence of the Italian adaptation: although it is true that it is not a particularly difficult title to understand, the large amount of objects and materials available, exclusively in English, could discourage those who do not chew the language.
To end our review of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, the monthly dispute between Marvelous and Natsume was definitely won by the first. The title is a hymn to lightness and tranquility, it has simple mechanics and perhaps a little too repetitive, but which give a feeling of satisfaction and dependence that push you to grind hours and hours looking for new materials to unlock the next area. Too bad that the crafting machines are really too bulky in the game economy and that, technically speaking, the game is strangely affected by a little stability. However, highly recommended for all those who love farming simulators or who simply want to get away from the frenzy of contemporary games. Brava Marvelous!
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Points in favor
- Careful and thorough gameplay
- Clear and multiple objectives
- Peace of mind that is addictive
- The fat cows
- Crafting machines are downright intrusive
- Frequent frame rate drops and occasional crashes
- Flat NPCs like sheets of paper