Forward of its November 4th launch date, Sq. Enix’s tackle the farming sport style, Harvestella, lately acquired a demo on Swap, so you’ll be able to strive before you purchase. The save will switch over to the complete sport, in case you resolve it is well worth the £50 / $60.
As a part of a farm sim-filled Nintendo Direct, we had been eager to analyze this one specifically. For many who’ve performed it — what do you consider the farming-JRPG hybrid? We have spent a while with it, and have some ideas…
Harvestella is about in a Ultimate Fantasy-like medieval countryside village, within the shadow of a big, glowing purple crystal which looms ominously overhead. Apparently, it is a good factor — it is the Seaslight, the crystal which (with its three counterparts) governs the seasons. We just like the crystal. It’s a massive pal.
The village through which you get up is known as Lethe, after the underworld river which grants forgetfulness to those that drink of it — which appears a little on the nostril, on condition that your character is, in fact, an amnesiac. Your arrival is just a little muted, because the residents of Lethe are all barricaded indoors to keep away from the dreaded season of Quietus, in a very Bloodborne-like second of terror and demise. Miraculously, you not solely survive this evening, however you get given a free home, too. Thus it goes in farming video games, I suppose.
The following few hours of Harvestella are cutscene-heavy, in the identical means that rain is water-heavy. Get able to take heed to a bunch of individuals with names like Cres and Dim enshrining the alternative of “present, do not inform” as they try to carry your hand via every little thing.
However when the NPCs aren’t instructing you the right way to water crops, fall asleep, and wipe your bum, the story itself is intriguing, all to do with aliens(?) and a decaying pure order, mysterious ladies from the longer term, unusual guards with names that sound like air conditioner producers, and… nicely, admittedly, not a lot farming. Even while you’d fairly prefer to be rising cabbages, you may be scoldingly shepherded again in the direction of the plot and the fight.
Harvest Moon, this ain’t
Yeah, do not let the title idiot you. Regardless of the secret being 63.6% “harvest”, there actually is not loads of farm-related stuff to do, a minimum of within the bits within the demo.
There are animals — Cluffowl and Woolums, which I assume are cutesy names for chickens and sheep — and vegetation, starting from
carrots carrops and wheat to tree fruits and nuts. Each day, you water them with this moderately cool rifle-looking factor, harvest them, and both cook dinner or promote them. That cash can then be used for weapon upgrades and extra seeds (which you’ll then develop and promote to purchase extra weapon upgrades). However the barebones-itude of the farming makes it really feel fairly secondary to the fight… and the fight would not fairly really feel sturdy sufficient to help the emphasis positioned upon it.
There are three courses to modify between, a talent tree for each, and companions to unlock alongside the best way, too, so there is a good bit of customisation to be completed. Nevertheless, there’s not a complete lot of technique in these early real-time battles, which largely default to “press A till enemy useless”, and good luck attempting to keep away from being hit — there’s not likely a lot of a dodge, and in case you’re something like me, you may find yourself taking sufficient harm each time you enter a battle that you’re going to be dying pretty usually.
There is a glimmer of promise within the three courses and the expansive talent timber, which seem like they will combine issues up a bit, and the companions — I unlocked a soldier-alien and an unhelpful unicorn — are well-written sufficient to make me wish to discover out extra.
In distinction, the participant character appears a bit… boring. You may select between male, feminine, and non-binary, however it would not actually make loads of distinction; the character fashions are all very comparable, the dialogue decisions do not matter, and the NPCs will deal with you as gender-neutral as attainable. Oh, and there is no voice performing, which is disappointing from Sq. Enix, an organization that normally goes all-in on voice performing — though we’re keen to hope that the ultimate sport could also be completely different.
Fish worry me
My largest gripe, as extra of a farming fan than a JRPG fan, is the fishing. I hoped for extra of a Stardew-type fishing, however it’s way more passive — all it’s a must to do is await the fish to chunk, and press A, which might take a number of in-game hours to occur. In a sport the place time is extraordinarily treasured, ready for a fish to show up appears like an unaffordable luxurious.
You see, in contrast to extra conventional farming video games, Harvestella’s days really feel actually quick. You may get up at 6, and by the point you have watered the crops, it is already 9. Head into city, and it will be about 1:30pm earlier than you handle to get to the outlets; head additional afield, and you will not get there till about 4pm. The sport then has the nerve to let you know to move residence at 6pm, and expects you to be in mattress earlier than 12pm, like an overbearing father or mother. You may be fortunate to catch greater than 5 fish in all that point, or to make all of it the best way to the tip of an space like Higan Canyon, the place loads of the motion of the primary few days occurs.
It simply feels a bit unbalanced, actually — which is probably to be anticipated from a developer’s first punt into a brand new style — and once more, we have our fingers crossed that the wonky time administration will get higher in a while within the sport. Perhaps you be taught to make a watch.
(Farm-grown) meals for thought
I got here away from Harvestella’s demo unconvinced, but intrigued. I do not assume farming video games make for nice demos, as a result of the purpose is that you just begin off underpowered, broke, and misplaced — so it is laborious to say that Harvestella is sweet or unhealthy, as a result of it’d simply be a bit pants to start with.
From the 15-day slice that the demo consists of, it is laborious to know if Harvestella unfolds like Rune Factories previous — with tons of customisation, a great deal of story, and seemingly infinite issues to do (means too a lot of them to do with soil well being) — or like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon, with loads of livestock to lift and take care of, and a solid of townsfolk to befriend. We do know that there will not be marriage, although — maybe it is a disappointment, however it’s hardly a shock for a sport that is way more JRPG than farming.
There’s promise there within the writing and the fight, it appears beautiful (albeit a bit blurry on Swap), and the screenshots of the later sport present promise — new characters, new areas, new farm tools — however I believe I will await the evaluations to come back out earlier than I drop 50 quid on Harvestella.
Will you be choosing up Harvestella on November 4th? What are your ideas on the demo? Fill within the ballot and inform us extra within the feedback!