Do you want to be a farmer?
I still remember that time, many years ago- playing Harvest Moon on the SNES and losing hours upon hours thinking that I would only play for a short while. Unfortunately, after the very first Harvest Moon, I more or less lost sight of that genre and left it behind. However, the excellent Stardew Valley scratched the same itch I didn’t know I still had, and I found my love for the incredibly addictive farming simulation rekindled once more.
So when I heard that there was a new Harvest Moon game on the way in the form of Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns, I thought I would revisit the series once more to see how it has shaped up over the years.
It’s no secret that the Harvest Moon games have never really been known for their stellar story or compelling narrative, and that certainly doesn’t seem to have changed. As someone who loves nature and has a fond memory of visiting a farm when they were young, the player character decides that the farmer’s life might just be up their alley. After some arguments with the family, the player is given a farmland to call their own to see how far they can make it.
It doesn’t get much more complex from that set up, as things pan out as expected. The main hook of Trio of Towns is in the title itself, as there are three main towns the player has access to.
One feels like a typical Western settlement, the other is basically straight up Hawaii (they even say Aloha) and lastly, an Eastern themed town with obvious Asian influences. Each town has their own cast of interactible characters, vendors and even eligible bachelors/bachelorettes.
While it was nice to see different flavors of culture in each of the towns, the characters themselves all felt fairly generic and never strayed too far from typical archetypes I’ve seen too many before.
As for the gameplay, it is more or less what one would expect from a farming simulation. There are lands to be worked, seeds to be planted, watered and eventually harvested. There’s a variety of livestock to take care of as well, including chickens, cows and sheep.
What separates Trio of Towns from something like Stardew Valley is the simplicity of the actions. For example, in order to do anything in a 3×3 area, it doesn’t need to be done 9 times individually as is the case in most other titles of this genre. It just needs to be done once and a 3×3 title is considered almost as a single tile.
Need to plant seeds in a 3×3 area? Just use it once and you’re done. Need to water a 3×3 area? Just hold down the water button for a few seconds and you’re done.
You get the idea.
By doing this, it cuts down on a lot of time that would have otherwise taken doing the same thing over and over. It’s a intuitive quality of life decision that normally comes after the player has upgraded their tools and built new devices, but it’s available from the get go and is most welcome.
What is much less appreciated is the fact that the game progresses at a snail’s pace with tutorials for every little possible thing, and how much of the game’s mechanics remain locked for a long while.
In fact, for the first few hours of the game I found myself with little to do, with my actions so prohibited that I found myself just going to sleep to pass the day at 1-2PM almost every day for weeks of in-game time.
It clearly felt like the game was created for the younger audience in mind and the constant hand-holding and lack of freedom severely hindered my enjoyment for the first four hours of the game.
The stamina system felt a bit too much of a handicap as well, as even simple tasks would take up massive amounts of stamina, and I found myself out of stamina at as early as 11AM with so much left that I wanted to do.
Cooking up food and eating would recover my stamina, but that felt more like busy work than necessary, and how often I had to eat felt a bit ridiculous all things considered.
When I wasn’t at my farm tending to my field and livestock, I was in town taking side-jobs for pocket change, and these may very be the dullest side missions I’ve ever played in any game.
Many of them tasked me with simple things like pulling out weeds, harvesting vegetables or cutting up wood, and I would simply just press the A button repeatedly until I was done. Some of the side quests took only 2-3 seconds at a time and would warp me to the job location, at which point I’d have to leg it back to the NPC that gave side jobs.
It was as boring as it was tedious, and after the first few times I tried my best to avoid them like the plague.
Outside of making money, there was building relationships with the towns themselves, which would offer me some new opportunities and of course with individuals as well, some of whom I could romance if I so desired.
The highlight of the farming experience was most definitely the various unique festivals, which I looked forward to, but they weren’t nearly as frequent as I would have liked to break up the tedium of doing the same things over and over again.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns appeals more to the younger audience with its simplified mechanics, but it clearly falters in adding enough depth and satisfying progression to make the repetitive day to day cycle feel worthwhile.
Fun Tidbit – I really wasn’t a fan of the art style in Trio of Towns as it felt overly generic and had the look of “FOR CHILDREN” all over it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.