OK, let’s call it. Harvest Moon: One World, released on March 3, 2021, is the official death time for one of the most beloved farmer simulators ever. And – not to be dramatic – but it turned everything left over from my dying soul into real dust.
To be clear, Harvest moon has been limping after zombification for years now and is becoming more and more a baptism of his former self since 2014. After the exchange of the publisher, the original Harvest moon creators were forced to change their series name to Story of seasons (which has a new Switch title on March 23), which allows the original publisher, Natsume, to release horrific, artless imitations under the Harvest moon name as uninformed fans as I would buy it before realizing they made a horrible mistake.
OK, maybe I’m a bit dramatically. But with good reason. Maybe the loss of a beloved video game series probably wouldn’t have hit me as hard if it hadn’t happened on the anniversary month of a year spent in quarantine.
But in this perpetual chaos of pandemic isolation and uncertainty – while playing my switch for the millionth hour in my tiny apartment in Los Angeles, while the city out there was still the center of the virus, I needed the convenience had of what Harvest moon it was. In the same way Animal transition wash the lifeline with the best time after starting the pandemic in March 2020, I urgently needed the new Harvest Moon to land me in everyday provincial existence. I needed a game to let myself escape into the agricultural fantasy of a farming symbol, even as ambulance sirens blared their memories that I was in fact still trapped in the hell of the modern city dwelling.
But Harvest Moon: One World is the opposite of everything people loved about the series, and the myriad farming simulators that inspired it Stardew valley.
The deep sense of place and commitment you gained by settling in a small nowhere village, developing long-term relationships with its inhabitants and laying roots is gone, to care for crops and livestock on a dilapidated farm. Affirmative, they decide to turn Harvest moon instead of an open world game, proving that no genre is safe for this contagion of the popular AAA game design philosophy of throwing more stuff on a big map in the hopes that you will like one of those things.
The big, ugly map boasts six uninspired regions from which you have to teleport your entire donkey farm back and forth via some inexplicable technology. And, let me tell you, the absolute last something I want from a Harvest Moon game in 2021 while drowning in Zoom calls, charging cables and the ever-present glow of a computer screen is the launch of a fucking high-tech energy machine that places my mobile virtual drive ( ?).
The consequence of this uneven design choice is that you can never really invest a permanent attachment to your farm, but that you can not do the basics to help me escape the nomadic lifestyle that often accompanies modern urban life. . Like, god, should I go to Harvest Moon now too? The premise makes you a travel farmer, essentially with all the dignity of a travel salesman, but no assignments. You can also just take the buildings that make up your farm and force you to abandon the remaining crops on the land that you have carefully cultivated.
Although the world of the new Harvest Moon is larger than ever before, it is also one of the emptiest virtual spaces I have ever experienced. You can go to more places, do more busy work, talk to more city dwellers than ever before – and each one is holier than the last. Each corner of A worldits vastness is without mystery, meaning, intrigue and amazement.
In contrast, previous Harvest Moon games have given you compact spaces with extremely meaningful experiences. A sense of sublime awe – of being this lonely, infinitely small farmer who learned to live with the almighty greatness of motherly nature – was what made my first Harvest Moon experience so memorable. Almost two decades later, I still regularly think about the life I built for myself. A wonderful life on GameCube.
You started as a small child inheriting their uncle’s farm in the sleepy village of Forget-Me-Not Valley. As the seasons tick, so do the years. You grow older with the residents of the city, marry one, have a child, raise them and eventually die of old age after hundreds of hours of playing time and what feels like a lifetime of quiet beautiful memories. On rare occasions, during this extraordinary journey you will find tips from local legends, the mystical creatures known as Harvest Spirits, who leave special seeds for you. If you are very lucky (or are looking for it online), you can even meet one person briefly before leaving something poetically cryptic and without ceremony, never to be seen again. It was clear that this was their world and that you were only a guest and thrived thanks to their good grace of the country.
In a total reversal of the role, in the manual of Harvest Moon: One World you are told that you are the only one who can revive the Harvest Moon Goddess herself. You are the most special of the people ever to save the world by collecting six medals in the harvest spirit of each region. As you wander aimlessly in derivative landscapes that look the same, but swap one kind of tree and crop for another, you come across a pair of harvesters every few feet, this lesser kind of harvest spirit that gives you all the seeds you will ever need. for anything.
It feels almost ominous and uses the harmonious spirituality of the original for this narcissistic individualism that pollutes every other damn video game where you are the Very Special Savior Ruler of a virtual world.
Everything about this game – from the premise to the mechanics, characters, settings and the god-fearing shit 3D art style – feels like it was made without any human touch. It is so lifeless and impersonal that it feels like a farming sim is being built by whatever wicked algorithm it haunts weird Facebook ads for games which does not even exist.
Everything about this game … feels like it was made without any human touch
The characters have rare names, let alone more stories. Your interaction with Very Excitable Man or Happy Woman (literally their names) is limited to emailed requests to get you this or that source, pls, thx, bai. The various regions of the open world are completely unattractive and lack diversity, especially in the clearly Hawaiian-inspired island town of Hola Hola, which is apparently inhabited entirely by white people.
Despite the fact that there is more, there are actually far fewer things to do, with things like the complexity of breeding your livestock, looking after them when they are pregnant, and raising their offspring to adulthood from the 2003- game, which is now simplified around the A Button three times until your cows or sheep give you milk or wool.
Then there are the frequent mistakes that cause vast expanses of the unsightly world to fall into a black void that eats away at points for missions. It will at least re-emerge as you approach the black hole, but it’s a game world not in and out cosmic nothing so much to ask for?
Former franchise fans will probably tell me that I should have known better about the decline of Harvest Moon clearly exhibited for years. I think this is true, but people also raised some hope (again) that this latest entry can be a return. As Harvest Moon’s premiere on Switch, it was the first game in a while that would only be developed for a console release rather than also being optimized for mobile games.
But alas, if optimized for a console, Harvest Moon could not be less ugly or shallow, and it’s worth your $ 50.
The nostalgia in which the original Harvest Moon games traded was for simpler times, when the world was slower, more human, something worth enjoying. But Harvest Moon: One World rather use your nostalgia for a much better game, and give yourself something as fleeting and inhuman as it is forgettable.
I wish disappointment in a game series I loved as a child was not enough to pull me through emotionally. But it’s just the cherry on top of a year that proves how absolutely nothing is sacred, no one you love is safe, and entropy destroys all things that exist in a linear time (again, not to be dramatic to be).
Harvest Moon is dead. May she rest in peace after someone has finally placed her shattered corpse out of its grotesque, re-adapted misery.