Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive City won’t bear the Harvest Moon title that might determine it as a continuation of the beloved sequence, however that is all right down to copyright, Japanese-to-English translation, and a schism between XSEED and Natsume. It isn’t very fascinating, so to summarise: Story of Seasons is the unique, and Harvest Moon (as it’s now) is an inexpensive pretender to the throne.
However prior to now few years, regardless that the rival Harvest Moon video games have decreased quickly in high quality, the Story of Seasons sequence has floundered all the identical – and Stardew Valley got here to take its crown. Does Pioneers of Olive City return triumphant, or does Stardew proceed to reign supreme?
As we mentioned in our preview, Pioneers of Olive City is disappointing within the first season. It’s going to take gamers a very long time to heat as much as the concept all the things is dealt with with Makers – the sport’s model of processing items, which flip uncooked supplies into usable and saleable gadgets, like wool into yarn, ore into ingots, and wooden into lumber. For some motive, these Makers take one merchandise at a time, and so, to make any progress, you may want roughly 100 of them chugging alongside. It is virtually a full-time job to deal with all of it.
One other enormous difficulty is the shortage of persona within the townsfolk. For some motive, they’ve solely the sparsest of dialogue, and even once you’re truly relationship them, that does not change an excessive amount of. Outdoors of occasions and dealing within the numerous outlets, they largely wander aimlessly across the city, or stand like statues subsequent to their beds, ready for the day to finish.
Nevertheless. Very like most Story of Seasons video games, the world brightens up after the primary couple of seasons, and issues begin to get extra fascinating. As soon as you have befriended somebody as much as two hearts, you may get some perception into their favorite items, which suggests a fast-track to seeing their “coronary heart occasions” – the cutscenes that additional your friendship. The guts occasions are brief however candy; we spent probably the most time with Bridget, so we have been handled to a narrative of her studying to belief different folks by animals.
Likewise, the Maker difficulty does not ever go away, nevertheless it does get higher. As soon as you have received a good set-up of all of the Makers you want, it is fairly fast work to fill all of them up, and turns into a part of the farm routine. In a while, you may even unlock Big Makers, which might course of just a few gadgets at a time, though they’re costly to construct, so you may possible be caught with those you get as rewards for levelling-up your expertise.
There are 12 expertise to degree up in complete, together with fishing, cooking, communication, and mining, all of which cap at degree 10. The extra you degree these up, the higher you may get at them, and the extra supplies of a greater high quality you may get consequently. The talent progress is a pleasant addition, and makes progress fairly regular and satisfying, so long as you are focusing your consideration on a number of expertise directly.
There are nonetheless just a few bottlenecks, like the truth that cooking takes half an hour, even when you’re simply making Scorching Milk. What’s extra, you’ll be able to solely prepare dinner one meal at a time – even if you wish to simply make multiples of the identical factor, you’ll be able to’t – and the Seed Maker, which is the one method to flip high-quality crops into higher-quality seeds, is sluggish, and might solely course of one crop at a time.
Mining, farming, fishing, and animal care will take up most of your time whilst you wait, although, and all of them are as satisfying as you’d hope for, in a sport that is about these issues. The animals are extraordinarily cute, if somewhat… deformed (there is not any method a cow with that large of a face might survive), and it is easy to unlock new ones, since they seem wild in your farm each season (within the first yr, at the least) and you may tame them so as to add them to your assortment.
Mining is a take a look at of stamina and occasional mole-battling, and although there aren’t skips that can assist you to get to decrease ranges instantly, it’s going to finally take you the perfect a part of a day to resolve the third mine. Fishing is much like how Stardew’s system works, and there are bait sorts and fishing rod upgrades that can assist you out.
As for what your farmer appears like whereas they work, the character customisation is fairly good – loads of outfits, hair adjustments, even eye color adjustments in order for you – however the furnishings and normal home ornament is weirdly restricted to a really particular, small space of your own home. You possibly can’t change the wallpaper or the ground, both. This space will get larger as the home upgrades enhance the scale of the place, however you may by no means be capable of place furnishings anyplace you need, sadly.
One of many largest caveats of all that is that the farming completely tanks the framerate. This is a matter that the builders find out about, and are engaged on, however working by ploughed-and-planted fields, and even empty ones, will cut back the framerate to about 5 frames per second. Add this to the weirdly lengthy loading screens, and you will be questioning what is going on on behind the scenes. We truly had one loading display that was nonetheless going after three minutes, and needed to restart the sport, however that was a one-off – all different loading screens have been sub-ten seconds. Nonetheless, that is a protracted wait.
New options, just like the Photograph Mode and the Museum, are enjoyable to mess around with – however the Digital camera solely holds ten photographs, and you may’t actually do something with them apart from donating photographs of animals to the Museum. You possibly can’t even full-screen them to avoid wasting them as screenshots.
The Museum is maybe probably the most disappointing of all. Taking clear inspiration from Animal Crossing, however with a fraction of the price range, Story of Seasons’ providing is simply not good. The fish exhibit is a bunch of fish-shaped shadows. The treasure exhibit is a bunch of pillars topped with similar-looking rocks. The animal exhibit is a bunch of animal statues on pillars. Inspecting these pillars provides you no additional data past the identify of the factor and when it was donated. If we would paid to go to this museum, we would ask for a refund.
Pioneers of Olive City’s story is all about bringing vacationers to the city – and you may see them flocking in on the ferry, with randomised appearances, however the identical identify, “Vacationer”, every time. Sadly, they do not do a lot past that. Your donations of supplies and cash will not actually change the city in any significant method past just a few beauty adjustments, and the townsfolk thanking you. The vacationers do not go to the eating places, they do not enter the outlets, they only mill about on the port. It is a disgrace, as a result of seeing the impact of tourism on this struggling city would have been actually fascinating.
In abstract, all the problems that we talked about within the preview are nonetheless there, plus just a few extra that we discovered by enjoying by an entire yr. A few of these points will not be too unhealthy when you get into the rhythm of issues, and it is definitely a mile higher than Harvest Moon: One World, nevertheless it’s in no way the perfect Story of Seasons sport you may get. Nevertheless, followers of the style will discover that they settle fairly properly into Pioneers of Olive City, at the same time as they’re dissatisfied by the issues it lacks. It is a strong, if comparatively unremarkable entry into the sequence, however in our opinion, you would be finest off ready for a sale and a bunch of patches, and getting Associates of Mineral City within the meantime.