To play Harvest for this review it was like going to a restaurant buffet, practically a full-bodied taste of many different things that sometimes they were compatible with each other but, at the same time, other times they ended up clashing slightly. A RPG which presents dynamics and above all game mechanics taken from the world of Life Sim and Farming Game, of a Square Enix which now more than ever had to give a positive signal. Was it really like this? Let's find out together!
A plot full of mysteries
Harvestella has one plot that works pretty well, as it wisely gives rise to constants in the head of those who play it questions about what's happening on the screen. By "questions" we don't mean that the plot is difficult to understand, but that every time a card is revealed from the deck, at the same time another one is placed face down on the table to always leave the player with the desire to know more. The goal is clear and to achieve it, one of the most functional and overused tea towels was chosen, namely that of amnesiac character in a world he doesn't recognize as his own, in which he will have to find out who he can trust and who he can't.
The biggest limitation of these narrative scripts has always been having silent protagonists – at least most of the time – because the intention is to make the player identify himself without conditioning. In this case it is a limit mitigated very well because, in the early stages of the story, we are joined by another character who is in a situation similar to ours. In her case it is not amnesia but a full awareness of what happened: she is from another timeline and must find a way to get home. Aria, this is her name, is in fact a girl it seems come from the future and throughout the story she constantly asks questions, acts with prudence and also seems fully aware of the risks that both she and the world around her run, suggesting that where she comes from there is awareness of the damage that could be done by traveling in the time, like the change the course of events disclosing information or taking actions that should be avoided.
Aria therefore, unlike the protagonist character we play in Harvestella, has a defined characterization and asks legitimate questions. It also has many reasons and advantages in investigating the mysteries that have presented itself with us, it is not the classic alliance that is created for plot needs and to form the party to be used in the game. We are not giving any concrete information for two reasons: the first is that we would like to preserve you a completely blind approach, so as to maintain the sense of immersion in not knowing what will happen from time to time (even in the simplest things), the second is that in fact what really matters to know is that the plot follows a specific type of line, which in Japan is called isekai (that is, when one or more protagonists find themselves in a world that is not theirs, such as Sword Art Online, to give a well-known example). Harvestella is nothing more and nothing less than a narratively Isekai of good quality, whose hours of plot never really weigh and which can be followed willingly in the events.
Harvestella is a video game to say the least heterogeneous, for an RPG which as mentioned in the introduction is surrounded by typical features some life simulator and farming game, but without ever delving into any of these mechanics too much. However, we would like to point out immediately that this absence of who knows what deepening, which has how flaw keeping relatively dishes the various sectors, it is also all in all an advantage for the gaming experience (net of some imperfections).
Il game loop of Harvestella is in fact composed not so much of phases, but of main components of the game: planning of the day (life sim), to farm resources (farming game) and finally combat and progression (RPG), with the combat that relates in part to the accumulation of resources via the enemy drops. The internal timetable of the Harvestella days conditions what can and cannot be done, through basic dynamics such as the opening and closing times of business and, at the same time, times of of certain NPC for side quests or minor assignments. The hourly cycle of Harvestella however, it is not free from defects, the first of all is the automatic fainting of the protagonist character at the stroke of the midnight, aggravated by the fact that the hours in Harvestella they go by really quickly and therefore at times you are almost in a hurry, because if you are not careful or if you take it too easy, you will run out of hours without realizing it.
Neither one nor the other of these two characteristics of the hourly cycle are an objective defect, if taken individually, however, present at the same time they almost conflitto and create a real problem. It could be said that in this way the rhythm some days it is more serratus, and all in all this is actually the case, but there will be occasions in which one would like to have a little more time to do everything (especially in the advanced stages of the game). Plan everything to the millimetrethe per second in this case, it therefore becomes essential to capitalize on every single moment of the day, continuously alternating between various gaming activities without being able to catch your breath who knows how much.
Once the timing of the day has been planned, we move on to the other two main components of the game. Let's start by talking about resource farming, a literal farming since it mainly consists of vegetable cultivation. In fact, our house has clods of arable land, and you can also pay to increase their number. It will be enough to cultivate hoe the desired sod, place the seeds e water. If it rains, as in the case of the day in the image above, you won't need to water the soil.
Cultivation also has its own internal gameplay loop: cultivate le matter prime, I have sold/you have left to get the food and finally buy new seeds to plant. Some seeds grow within 2 days, others take only one day, but the difference between cost and revenue is much smaller (such as carrots) up to vegetables such as courgettes that yes, take 4 days to grow, but do not require to be sown again, since they then grow directly from the plant that has been formed. It goes without saying that you need to plan your harvest carefully, to have income in cash or quantities of food as constant as possible. Great care is also needed in planning the use of the money earned, understanding when to spend in new seeds or when to save for improvements of various types, such as the increase in the clods of arable land, for example.
It is no coincidence then that we have equated the sale of raw materials with the creation of "homemade" food, because if the healing food is obtained from cultivation and you don't buy it, you are saving money anyway. By purchasing the appropriate manual it is also possible fish at predetermined points of certain game areas, with the possibility of selling the fish obtained or using it for cooking as soon as the appropriate recipes are obtained. Fishing inevitably takes away minutes in Harvestella's hourly cycle, so the advice is fish in the dead moments or when done with cultivation and combat. For example, if you have decided to grow only seeds that grow in two days, in the last day before the final growth there would be less time spent on cultivating and watering. Well, that's an excellent opportunity to fish as much as I can out of exploration and combat, partially compensating for the lack of collected day's income.
Food is for recharge your stamina bar, since we have one that wears out as we perform strenuous actions such as fishing, fighting or farming. In practice the Harvestella philosophy Is that of sudarsi with work one's own equipment and resources, rather than obtaining them in a trivial way through merchants or the like. It should be noted that if you decide to process raw materials and sell the results, such as flour made from wheat, in some cases you earn a small additional amount of money (example again on wheat, with 3 ears you make a sack of flour. The 3 ears together are worth 165, the sack is worth 180).
Since we have mentioned them often let's finally talk of exploration and combat. It is a classic system from Action RPG nipponico, based on alternating basic attacks sequentially and special attacks which recharge on a cooldown. This is not a particularly exciting combat system, there are no varied or even effective combos, but it can be played easily. The real peculiarity is that it is very hard not to take damage, there are no parades, and also the dash unlockable with the starting class is not particularly effective at avoiding shots. In the very first battles it seemed like a defect, but then we realized that perhaps it was done purposely in this way. Fighting consumes stamina and, taking damage almost inevitably, also takes away several health points during battles. This dynamic creates the need to almost always have good quantities of food to restore both stamina and HP, food that in the exploration phases can also be consumed in checkpoints with the Break, i.e. a refreshment action that intensifies the healing effects of the dishes and, moreover, also gives us the opportunity to deepen the allied characters with special dialogues.
Finally, they can cover multiple classes during the game, call Jobguide, and it is possible equip up to 3 simultaneously being able too alternate them during fights (class change, just like special attacks, has its own special cooldown). There are monsters which are weaker to the magic attacks, others exposed to those physical and still others with specific elemental weaknesses. Normally in a not too deep combat system there wouldn't be too many reasons to vary, the right balance is found and one goes on with that, but when time goes by fast it is in one's own interest to optimize the damage e close fights quickly, especially against stronger monsters! Again, however, we find that it would have been better to find other expedients, as breathing down the player's neck is not always the wisest thing.
So here the circle comes full circle: you plan your day, yes buy food and money to improve your resources and go equipped to explore, you explore and fight to advance the story and get useful drops and finally start planning again the next day. At the end of each day, when you go to sleep, they earn experience points based on the activities performed and the enemies defeated, with an increase in statistics with each level reached. Also, yes they earn the money of the raw material and materials placed in the trunk of things to sell.
If to all this is added: a system of progression of Jobguide, which is carried forward using them in battle during the explorations; a system of rewards that can be obtained by completing some assignments similar daily quest (such as collecting a certain number of a particular vegetable) that is unlocked through the story; being able to equip power rings; the possibility of carry out tasks optional against some of the allied characters, also improving the relationship with them and unlocking new skills by doing so, here comes a game that works, which you can play with pleasure and in which you will always have something Useful and meaningful to do.
With a noticeably less rapid passage of time or even just the removal of the fainting at midnight, Harvestella would have offered an even more enjoyable gaming experience and we hope that these adjustments, in a possible sequel or in a new title with the same characteristics, are done.
A fluctuating but successful technical sector
We close as usual with the technical side, which boasts several lights but also some scattered shadows. Graphically the title comes with an aesthetic very pleasant indeed, colorful and all in all well detailed. Anime graphics are a certainty when so well done, giving games of colors and glances always pleasant. We played Harvestella su PC for this review but we also tried the Demo present on the eShop of Nintendo Switch. Obviously the higher maximum resolution and the greater fluidity, inevitably, makes the one present on Steam la better version, but that NIntendo Switch net of a framerate locked at 30 fps of the lower resolution is still very dignified (moreover, played on a laptop, it makes a very dignified figure on the Switch screen). Graphically promoted therefore in both versions, considering the relative capacities.
What we feel like criticizing is above all the presence of bad animations, Rather woody and not very fluid especially in the characters. One would expect much more from a game that is released practically at the price of a cross-gen triple A. Another technical flaw is the absence of true graphics settings for the PC port, since in practice there are no customizations of the graphic details outside the resolution. A lack that for the most equipped configurations does not weigh in the slightest, however for some players with underperforming PCs it could have been useful to scale effects and shadows downwards to have more stability.
Le music they are all very nice, every place and context has its OST and in general damage the right mood for every game situation, with the fights having a more pressing background and the farming phases having a more relaxed one.
Definitely, Harvest is this a promoted game or not? We would just say of Yup! It is neither a masterpiece nor an unmissable game, but it would be useful to get into the perspective that not all games are phenomenal titles or total trash. There are many intermediate nuances and in our opinion Harvestella is one of them, a good game with some shortcomings here and there and which, it must be said, does not innovate anything and tries to play it safe with a gaming experience fulfilling, not too demanding and which can hardly make you turn up your nose. If you are looking for a game that can revolutionize the mechanics of RPG, Life Sim or Farming Game it's not the one for you, but if you just need a good and solid gaming experience involving these genres then yes, it's definitely a title you could consider.Review
- Harvestella (Tested on PC)7.3Final Vote
Harvestella is a good RPG with mechanics and dynamics attributable to the world of both Life Sims and Farming games. It is nothing exceptional but, net of some defects, it presents a solid gaming experience that flows fluidly and potentially pleasantly, without really innovating anything and without particularly delving into one or more components of the game. Recommended but not a must.