One World is better than the Harvest Moon games released by publisher Natsume in recent years. Especially the Expando-Farm, the farm that you can pack and put somewhere else, is a fun concept that ensures that you take advantage of the large game world that has been created for the game. Still, the game gets repetitive after you have cleared two of the five areas. Furthermore, the operation is not ideal, the menu is not helpful and the dialogues are boring. One World is a small step forward, but the step is not big enough.
- The movable Expando-Farm
- Big game world
- Quickly repetitive
- Cluttered map
- Boring conversations
- Poorly developed economy
Harvest Moon – One World
Harvest Moon has a long and not entirely smooth history. The series has been around since 1996, but Harvest Moon has been owned by publisher Natsume since 2014, which has not done the series’ reputation any good. The five games that have been released since then were a bit boring and looked a bit too cheap. Natsume is trying to change that with Harvest Moon: One World, which has been released for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 and will be released for the Xbox One. We played the version for the Switch.
With One World, Natsume finally breaks with tradition a bit and tries to give the series a new impetus. For starters, there is more story in the game. That story is not too complicated, but it does the game well. It’s about the Harvest Goddess. It has mysteriously disappeared and with it the knowledge about most crops is gone. The game world is therefore not in good shape. Humans and animals have little to eat and especially little variety in their food.
Save the Harvest Goddess
Fortunately, you can help. In typical Japanese style you are a young adventurer (m / f) who can save the world. You have a little magical ability: only you can see the Wisps, the tiny floating subjects left behind by the Harvest Goddess. The Goddess has passed on the knowledge of the many different crops to these Wisps. Each Wisp carries one seed and since only you can see the creatures, you are the only one who can receive the seeds.
So you collect seeds, which you can then plant on your farm. Because of course that part of the game has remained: you start a farm in Harvest Moon that you have to keep running. You have a house with a bed where you can rest at night from work, and a shed for your livestock. In addition, you have a field that is divided into neat little squares, each good for one crop. If you plant a seed in it that you received from a Wisp, the crop in question will grow there. Before you can plant it, you need to hoe the square first and after you have planted it, you need to water it. For a few days. How many days? That depends on the crop. Once the crop is ripe, you can pick it.
You have a day job on it
Harvest Moon is still a real farm sim. You can have a day job collecting seeds and especially hoeing, watering and harvesting your crops and tending your livestock and keeping your stable. If you don’t fit all of that into your day, your crops will wilt and your animals will get upset.
What do you do with all those crops and animal products? You can of course eat them to restore your stamina when you are on the go. There are crops that you can give to your livestock, because they also need food. But you can also sell or give away your harvest. The crops you grow are a regular part of the many quests in the game.
Lots of quests
That’s what sets Harvest Moon apart from most other farm sims: not only is it a story, but as a result there are a ton of quests as well. There is a main storyline that focuses on the return of the Harvest Goddess, but in addition there are dozens of sidequests where you are usually asked to help the locals.
The nice thing about it is that Harvest Moon: One World has a pretty extensive game world. you do not stay on and around your farm, but go out into the wide world. One World is divided into five completely different zones that you can quickly unlock. This does not mean that you can easily ground everywhere, because both in the desert and in the Arctic you need protection that you get from the snacks and drinks you learn to prepare.
Pick up your farm and go
Because the game world is so big, you will have to cover considerable distances, which is difficult to combine with caring for your farm. It is One World’s main challenge: dividing your time between your field and livestock on the one hand and exploring the world on the other. Fortunately, you have tools. This way you can buy a horse, which makes you a lot faster. Moreover, there is a very handy system of fast travel, to points on the map that you have discovered earlier. The best tool is that you can pack up your entire farm and put it somewhere else. That makes it easy to complete the most important quests in that zone.
In that regard, Harvest Moon: One World has been pleasantly improved over its predecessors. You will visit many different places and talk to all kinds of people, most of whom have a quest for you, which makes for a nice change from caring for your farm sim. It takes some time management, but that is good for the tension in the game.
You are soon done
Yet the game lacks the necessary tension. It is nice that you can go to the completely different zones with all your possessions, but that does not yield much more than a little graphical variation. By the time you’ve done everything there is to do in the second zone, you’re pretty much rested.
By then you can make your own animal feed, you can make all kinds of dishes and drinks from your harvest and you can make all kinds of objects from raw materials like wood, stone and metal. The other zones will then not offer much news. There are still a lot of people to talk to and quests to do, but there is not much development in your options anymore. The rest of the game therefore simply offers more of the same. You keep traveling to all zones with fast travel because certain seeds can only be obtained in other zones and something can be found everywhere that continues to hold value.
The rich farm life
In addition, the game’s economy doesn’t seem quite well thought out. You have to buy the animals in your stable and you will have to save a lot for your first cow and horse. But here also applies: by the time you have achieved everything in the second zone, you will earn a lot of money that you cannot do much with. You can buy more cattle with it and fill your barn completely. But actually that is not necessary at all. With a cow, a sheep, a chicken and a horse you produce everything you need. More animals only means more maintenance.
There are more negatives. For example, the operation does not always work smoothly. In itself it is very nice that the maintenance of your field and livestock is linked to one button. Hoeing a piece of the field, planting something and then watering the seed is all done with the same button. The same goes for the tightening, brushing and milking of your cow.
But in other areas, the game is failing. If your backpack is full, the vegetables you just picked will remain in the field. When you return after emptying the backpack, it will be difficult to pick up the vegetables. In any case, it is difficult that you cannot dump items from your backpack, or that you cannot exchange something you want to pick up for something from your backpack.
Furthermore, the map of the game world is very unclear. That applies in any case if you play on the Switch in handheld mode, which is the most appropriate form to play the game. Unfortunately you cannot zoom in on the map. The map also comes with a very handy search function, where you can search for Wisps with the type of seed you need. However, the result of your search is very difficult to read on the screen of the Switch. That is difficult, because for the many quests in the game you need very specific ingredients.
In addition, we are also not that enthusiastic about the appearance and sound of the game. The music is downright boring and because the many characters in the game have no voice, the whole thing is a bit sparse. The appearance is typically Japanese, but very ‘thirteen in a dozen’ of its kind. That also applies to the conversations you have with the many characters. In good Japanese custom, the text appears letter by letter and it is a blessing that the game includes the option to display the text in its entirety at the touch of a button. However, that does not alter the fact that the many conversations are also a bit boring. It’s all pretty predictable and interchangeable.
With Harvest Moon: One World, publisher Natsume is taking a step in the right direction. One World is better than the games of the past years, because some new ingredients have been added to the formula. The main addition is the Expando-Farm, the farm that you can pack and put somewhere else. A nice concept that ensures that you take advantage of the large game world that has been created for the game. It also ensures that you will naturally encounter many different vegetables and animals, all of which you can add to your farm.
The game is still a farm sim in which a large part of your daily activities is taking care of the crops in your fields and the animals in your stable. However, around that you can explore the world and encounter many different characters, who almost all have quests for you. The game even tries to teach you some environmental awareness in that way.
Still, Harvest Moon: One World hasn’t quite passed. With five significantly changing parts of the game world, there is a lot to explore. Only after the second part of the game world you have pretty much finished learning and the rest is actually just a bit too much of a repetition of moves. It does not help that the conversations you have are a bit shallow and boring and many quests end up in the same way: delivering a certain amount of a certain vegetable. For a change there are occasional events such as a horseback riding tournament, but that is actually just too little to keep it exciting. Because the appearance and sound are not very appealing, we cannot get very enthusiastic about Harvest Moon: One World despite the improvements.