No franchise has been in the farming game for as long as Story of Seasons, better known as Bokujo Monogatari in Japan (and previously known as Harvest Moon in North America). Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the series created a formula that inspired blockbuster games like Stardew Valley. But in recent years, he’s struggled to stay relevant with new ideas. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town tries to keep the flame alive by having you develop a city and provide fun features (like a photo mode and a museum) to stock up on discovery. The loop is fun, but the rewards aren’t enough for the investment it takes to get them.
Like its predecessors, Pioneers of Olive Town begins by landing in a small village and starting a new life as a farmer. Olive Town is in trouble and the mayor is asking for your help to fix it. You receive development projects, which require you to gather the right materials to improve vital items like roads, benches, and town hall. Watching the city transform with each upgrade is worth it as more tourists come to the area and Olive Town starts to look a lot more appealing. However, don’t expect to have much control over the transformation of the city. You are asked questions as if your opinion and direction mattered, but all the answers lead to one place, and going looking for a quest after a quest becomes tedious.
That being said, the main loop of taking a farm from nothing to a successful operation is always entertaining. I looked forward to every install upgrade, new animal, or crafting recipe I could unlock. While you are walking in the wild, you can now also tame wild animals and bring them to the farm, which means you don’t always spend money on new livestock. Money can come easily, but it’s the materials you need for crafting, city dwellers’ demands, and building upgrades that meet the challenge. I didn’t mind at first; breaking rocks for minerals, chopping down trees for lumber, and cleaning up puddles for clay is pretty straightforward. But these items have to be processed in machines, and each machine has a unique purpose, from converting milk into cheese to turning wool into yarn. The problem? Not only is there way too much for every little thing, but inserting the required materials only produces one converted item, so if you need 50 of a specific wood type (and you will), it can take an exasperating time. . You can build multiple machines of each type, but they take up living space.
My journey through the pioneers of Olive Town has been full of ups and downs. Things either happened too easily, like wooing the city dweller of my choice, or took too much effort, like unlocking some farming facilities. I was impressed with everything there is to do, but it all comes at a cost; I felt like I could never spend time exploring certain aspects, like making clothes or cooking, because they take up precious time and feel insignificant compared to your other tasks.
The areas of Olive Town seem small at first, but as you build bridges to new areas, meet Earth Sprites that take you to special locations, and search various caves with floors filled with treasure, things get better. develop a lot. You’re constantly improving your skills by doing the basic tasks of plowing dirt, chopping down trees, breaking rocks, and this in turn unlocks more crafting recipes to get you things like Auto Foods for your. livestock or decorative furniture. It gives a satisfying feeling of your character’s progress and new things to always look forward to.
I also enjoyed the fun little touches like being able to ride a motorcycle or use the different mounts to get around. The festivals are random, some being more interactive than others. The game also features a museum similar to Animal Crossing, where you can donate your treasures, fish, and photos you’ve taken of wildlife. Home furnishings and upgrades are plentiful as well, although your home feels a bit confined to where you can put things. You have this spacious layout, with only a selected and smaller area to really decorate like yours.
For those interested in the social aspects, you get new scenes at a steady pace as you walk around town and chat with the villagers, which made me want to take the time to visit them. I was looking forward to these scenes to learn more about the people of Olive Town, but overall I didn’t find this casting memorable or exciting. No one is downright boring (except maybe food critic Lovett), but the villagers simply fulfill their roles as traders and community members and offer nothing unique beyond that. Events as you progress into a romance play out much better because they really capture the chemistry and growth of your relationship.
Most of all, I had a great time with Pioneers of Olive Town, but it’s not the most technically sound game. The fixes continued to improve my experience, but expect annoying load times, frame rate issues (especially stuttering), and the occasional game freeze. Nothing caused me to stop playing out of frustration, but be aware that it’s still not the smoothest experience.
Pioneers of Olive Town is a decent entry into the history of the seasons, but it’s not more than that. I’m still absorbed in the basic formula of improving my farm and loved making new discoveries as I explored. I have a lot of things that I enjoy about this game, but I’ve encountered so many that haven’t hit the mark. I also can’t help but think, after all this time, shouldn’t this show take bigger leaps forward and leave a stronger impression?
For more on the pioneers of Olive Town, you can check out these five quick tips from the director!
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