Story of Seasons is one of my favourite video game franchises and I’ve been playing the games since the N64 days, back when the series was still known in the West as Harvest Moon (For those unaware of the name change, due to rights issues, they had to change the name when a new localizer took over the series in 2014. Any games released under the title of Harvest Moon since then, are actually made by a different game studio).
The gameplay in Story of Seasons revolves around developing a farm, raising crops and animals, interacting with quirky villagers and courting the eligible bachelors or bachelorettes of the town, eventually settling down with one of them and starting a family. It’s a calming gaming experience, where the focus is on simulating a relaxing life full of the simple pleasures of love, community and communion with nature.
Pioneers of Olive Town is the newest game in the Story of Seasons franchise and the first to be released on a home console (as opposed to a handheld console) in quite some time – though the Switch technically functions as both. I was really excited for this game and have been playing it a whole bunch since it was released, enjoying building my farm and chatting with my friend about which character I was planning to marry.
Here are my thoughts on Pioneers of Olive Town!
Introduction of same-sex marriage:
This is a big pro for me. A key component of Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon games has always been the ability to date and marry the single young villagers. Getting to know these characters through triggering special cut-scenes or participating in events is the most exciting part of the story, and I always look forward to the process of selecting the person I want to propose to.
But the characters that were available for courting had previously been limited to the opposite gender of what the player selected for their in-game avatar. Basically, in older games, if you where playing as a girl, you could only marry male characters, and if you were playing as a boy, you could only marry female characters (though a few games did include gender-ambiguous characters that both genders could pursue).
The first game to change this, and allow same-sex marriage, was actually the remake of Friends of Mineral Town, which came out last year. So, while this isn’t technically the first game in the franchise to include the option to marry a character that’s the same gender as the player character, it’s the first one that’s a brand new entry in the franchise, and I’m delighted to finally see same-sex marriage included. Not only am I happy to see that Story of Seasons is being more inclusive, I’m also selfishly glad that my dating pool has been expanded. After all, sometimes the male characters in this franchise can leave something to be desired…
I’d seen some criticism of the NPC’s when this game was first released. I guess some people found them boring, but I have to say that I was charmed by them. This may partially be because updates have expanded the dialogue that’s available for these characters since Pioneers of Olive Town’s initial release, but even putting that aside, the cut-scenes that you trigger as you raise the friendship levels of the villagers or complete in-game goals, are really cute and fun. Some of them are even hilarious! I loved seeing the antics of the Mayor’s idiot son, Jacopo, and learning how everyone in town seems to be in love with the classy and independent owner of the bistro, Misaki. The unexpected storyline of the assassin who’s out to get Iori was both surprising and amusing! These are interesting and loveable characters and I enjoyed getting to know them as I integrated myself into the Olive Town community.
Lots of things to do:
Sometimes, Story of Seasons games can get a bit dull after you’ve gotten married and upgraded your farm to a certain level, but I’m finding that there’s a lot more to do in Pioneers of Olive Town, besides just wooing the locals and growing crops on the farm. There are quests to complete to help the mayor fix up the town and transform it into a tourist destination. There are new areas and abilities to unlock. You’re able to decorate your farm and make different outfits for your character to wear. You can donate things to the local museum and build up its collection or complete cooking challenges issued by the local gourmet.
There’s tons of things to do in this game and I’m still having a lot of fun with it, even after getting married to my sweet heart. And, if you want some additional excitement, there’s also a fun DLC storyline you can download where you help the local kids solve some mysteries!
Game is a little buggy:
This is something that personally hasn’t effected me, but there have been several patches released for the game already to address some bugs. My friend, who is also playing the game, has also encountered a few bugs in her playthrough. They haven’t been anything game-breaking, but they’re definitely annoying. Thankfully, these have been corrected through updates to the game, as they’ve been discovered.
Storage and other Quality of Life Issues:
Pioneers of Olive Town has a few minor flaws which, while not things that have a huge effect on my enjoyment of the game, are still aggravating and seem like things that should have been ironed out early in the games production.
While playing through the game’s story and expanding my farm, storage quickly becomes an issue for me, and I’ve had to clutter up my farm with multiple storage boxes, just to hold all of my ingredients and materials.
Makers are also slow and only produce one item at a time, another pain-in-the-butt detail that slows down progress for seemingly no reason.
Some of these complaints are slated to be addressed in future updates, but I really feel like these things should have been considered and fixed from the start.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this game and, while there are a few things that could be improved, I think it’s an excellent edition to the Story of Seasons franchise. If you’ve enjoyed previous Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon games, this is worth picking up.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on this game, check out the Story of Seasons website.
What did you think of this game? Who did you wind up marrying? Let me know in the comments. I married Blaire!
Be sure to check out some of my other game reviews!
- Untitled Goose Game Review
- Pokémon Shield First Impressions
- Pokémon Sword & Shield Review
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review
- Spiritfarer Review
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I’ve never played a game from this series (not really into simulations), but I do like the aesthetics. And I’m glad they’re at least trying to be responsive in addressing bugs and flaws.
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This isn’t really my type of game tbh. I guess the closest to it, which isn’t very close, is Sims . Though I did find your comment “the male characters in this franchise can leave something to be desired” pretty funny and as a straight dude can defo say sometimes the male options in games compared to the females do seem to be a bit lacklustre
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Team Jacobo all the way!!
I honestly don’t know anything about him other than what he said but I may try to marry the most useless candidate just to complain about them.
Loved so many iterations of this game, I’m definitely tempted to grab this one!
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If I was able to marry Jacopo, I might have done so for the laughs.