As many of you know, Harvest Moon games have always been a favourite of mine—and when I found out last year that we were going to get a new title called One World, it started me on a whole emotional roller coaster.
At first, I was incredibly excited because it sounded like it was going to be on a much grander scale than any Harvest Moon game I’d seen. I mean, we’re talking about a whole world here!
As content began to come out about it, though, the novelty started to wear off. I was increasingly less excited, partially because of the gameplay trailers—which paled severely in comparison to the similarly timed Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town.
But no, I told myself. I need to be objective about this; I owe Harvest Moon that.
So when One World came out last week, I picked it up—and after a week or so of playing, here’s what I think of it so far.
It has probably the most intense moving mechanic I’ve seen.
This isn’t the first Harvest Moon game that’s used a moving mechanic to give you options about where your farm is. We saw the same thing in Tale of Two Towns, where you could switch your home between two differently proportioned farms that focused either on housing animals or growing crops.
One World takes the idea of moving a lot more literally.
The key mechanic to this game is that you can move around between different zones that have different soil conditions. And how you do that? By zapping your entire farm into the palm of your hand, using what looks like a stress ball version of Doc’s face.
It’s a neat idea, because from what I can tell, there are at least five different places you could have your farm. That said, I’m not sure how sold I am on it simply because all I can picture is the poor animals in the barn suddenly getting into a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids situation.
The stamina system is heckin’ weird.
Stamina has always been pretty straightforward in Harvest Moon games: You consume it when you use tools, and you recover it when you eat or sleep. Not in this game.
I didn’t notice this at first, because the game seems to gate the player pretty hard. As I started to unlock new areas, though, and spent my days running to other towns, it became painfully clear that you can actually lose stamina just for running in this game.
To my knowledge, at least, that’s a new feature—and I can’t really say I’m in favour. On the plus side, at least you can buy a horse as soon as you unlock the animal shop, but let’s just say I’m yet to have enough money for that.
Animals are much cuter.
Harvest Moon animals have always had a pretty distinctive look, and one of the things I noticed from the early trailers was that they had completely overhauled that look. I was actually really excited for it, and have not been disappointed!
I especially like what they did with the shelties and border collies, who actually look fluffy now, and the chickens that have defined feathers now. I’ve also heard there are things like corgis later on, so I can’t wait to see what they look like too.
The characters look decent, too.
This is kind of a two-sided thing for me. On one hand, it definitely looks like the designers just made all the characters as 3D model versions of the art style from Light of Hope, which was hands-down my least favourite in terms of character design.
On the other hand, turning them into 3D models did actually do a lot for them.
I also appreciate that the character sprites themselves actually look like properly proportioned humans, not just the little jelly beans from past games. I do love me some jelly bean sprites, but it’s kind of refreshing to see more relatable characters running around.
You can’t buy seeds anymore.
I know I’ve listed a few surprises here so far, but this is definitely the one that threw me the most. Because of the whole storyline of seeds and vegetables being extinct, no one actually sells seeds anymore.
Instead, you get them by talking to Harvest Sprites, who show up all over the map at different times and in different seasons. Luckily, you can use the map to search for sprites with specific seeds, so it’s not a total toss-up.
Though it’s vastly different, I actually really like this feature so far. It’s been really easy to stockpile seeds that I can grow to sell off so I can get my horse, or to fuel my house so I can move closer to things.
The world design is where it all falls apart.
It’s harsh, but it’s true; I think this is where the game really suffers. I was afraid of this from the gameplay trailers, but was hoping it was just an early concept that they’d fix in time for release.
The world is just needlessly large, and there’s so much space between everything. And that space is sparse; it almost looks like the all-new graphics engine they used took all the Switch’s resources to generate the map, and forgot to put anything in the map.
Which is weird when you consider how massive and detailed games like Breath of the Wild are.
To be clear, I don’t mind that the world is so big, and I think it was a cool move for Harvest Moon. I just wish they’d done more to develop said world, so I didn’t end up running on a mostly empty one-track road for three in-game hours getting from town to town.
It’s worth noting the controls are wildly sensitive, too.
I don’t know that this is really something that would affect everyone, but it was noticeable enough for me that I think it’s worth saying, at least! I first tried to play with my Joy-Cons, but since one of the joysticks developed a little drift that I haven’t figured out how to fix, it made for an interesting experience.
Essentially, any selections that I had to make might as well have been possessed for how quickly they shifted and how uncontrollable they were. It was pure luck I ended up as a girl, and somehow it also messed up my birthday, so I had to start again.
Even with my perfectly functional pro controller, I noticed it was still tricky to highlight the right things without accidentally flipping to the next page in storage. I ended up switching to the D-pad just for selection, and it seems to be working so far!
Overall, I do like Harvest Moon: One World. It has some neat new features, and I like the character and animal art. But I don’t think it’s going to be as bingeworthy as I normally find Harvest Moon games to be.
Have you tried One World yet? What did you think?