Farming Simulators have never been my personal strong suit, but when they’re great, they’re encapsulating. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town delivers its trademark charm, and endearing presentation with formidable foundations that cultivate in engaging environments all paved by our protagonists. The tumultuous legacy that continues to astound audiences of the old Harvest Moon franchise, bases its initiative to captivate and compel its fanbase through simulated seasons, and an intuitive gameplay loop. While innovation has tediously escalated through each entry, Story of Seasons continues to shine, with passion and solidarity in its continued following. A relaxing tale that simply allows you to vibe at your own leisure, permeates its cute overlay.
Quirks, features and facets that captures purity in this incredible journey generates a warmth that cannot be duplicated by any other series. Story of Seasons reclaims its position atop its longstanding farming foray with Pioneers of Olive Town. An original narrative pertains its canonical roots, keeping much of Harvest Moon’s illustrious blueprint intact, with subtle call backs in dialogue along with character and animal design achieving a homely surrounding. There was a small sense of trepidation that overcame me, not because I was afraid of events in the game, rather a reluctance of falling down the well of addiction. While its calming demeanour will entrust an amiable embrace, it will grip you tightly and never let you go.
Extend the Olive Branch...
While Story of Seasons has followed a formulaic structure keeping narrative to a minimum, the series prided itself on continuance through a lofty campaign. Most of Harvest Moon’s identity was reliant on the player acquainting themselves with the title’s complex farming system. The hook being a casual experience that never imposed an imperative, nor linear escapade. As the series evolved over time, it accrued character and personality within a minimalist plot, penned to give Story of Seasons a sense of flow or reason. A proposal that purposely implements a profound tale that leads our curious croppers to pursue a life of tranquillity, and passion that takes them back to their childhood.
Entering the game, your greeted with a choice of either portraying a male of female protagonist. Riding free from the busy life of a bustling metropolis, our hero leaves their life behind for a contemporary pace in the isolated village of Olive Town. The settlement which thrives on its homely establishment, was pioneered by our protagonist’s late grandfather. While travelling towards the small town, our hero’s Vespa suffers a mechanical failure. Lucky for them, they had just made it to the village where the Mayor Victor welcomes our hero to the countryside conurbation. Victor guides the merry merchant towards the old farm. There, they discover an abandoned plain, rescinded of their grandfather’s history.
A decaying, dilapidated estate left in ruins leaves Olive Town in somewhat despair, as its reputation begins to dwindle due to its descending number of citizens. Bewildered by the harrowing habitat, our hero gets to work in re-establishing Olive Town’s foundations by renovating, revamping and restoring the old farm from its decaying, and derelict condition. Meeting and greeting locals, you discover more about Olive Town’s heritage and history, and how it was founded and reformed. A once proud congregate that relied on its homegrown, natural element now suffers from a disregard in its own patrons. It’s from here we begin our new life, cultivating livestock, chopping trees, turfing fields and cropping a plethora of plantation.
The great thing about Story of Seasons, is its straightforward approach. There’s no frills here, no need to ascend to the top, nor change the series’ critically acclaimed blueprint. Instead, the meticulous and tedious gameplay loop which was once heralded as gaming’s ultimate grinder, is now a welcomed opposite; a sedative that slows down the expeditious pacing while in no way seeming monotonous in the slightest. Pioneers of Olive Town recaptures the essence of Harvest Moon’s golden years, applying a calming aesthetic that stimulates thought through its emulated labour. I found great solace in laying back and rebuilding my grandad’s farm to my exact vision. As someone who grew up on his own grandad’s farm, this was somewhat sentimental.
The Grass is always Greener...
✔️Story of Seasons continues to reclaim its Harvest Moon legacy.
✔️A charming aesthetic, and calming allure cultivates in one of the most immersive farming sims to date.
✔️Best Friends system re-emerges for a diverse appreciation.
❌Performance dip in overcompensated areas.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is packed to the brim with endless possibilities. The boundless acres of free land that grow once establishing the base of your farm can be extended by additional land across a broken bridge. If you thought the land inherited was enough, wait until you see the wide open plains you experience beyond this. Crafting can be one of the more enjoyable feats in Olive Town, creating handy appliances, or quirky artefacts that in turn apply integrity and some form identity to the land. But it’s not all fun and games, as each day you have a mission and purpose to reinstate this land into its former glory. A catalogue of objective will keep you busy for hours as you dig up dirt, smash up rocks, water your crops and feed the cows.
These are mere examples of what comes after. But again, it’s not compulsory, if anything it gives your purpose in progression at your own pace. Quests are simple to complete and nothing strenuous as you dive into more of the social aspect within the village. Visiting different locale like the museum, mingling at town square, and establishing a relationship with a partner all come into play. One of my many highlights was discovering the best friend system, making a celebrated return from previous iterations. While the positive do outweigh the negatives, the only drawback to having too many items on your farm is in-game performance.
As the real-estate began to fill with more barns, animals and other décor, I began to notice a cascading framerate. While smooth in most circumstances, it dipped marginally while having multiple items cramped in one single area. While it’s nothing major, it does deliver a jarring sense and remove you from the immersion in these moments, almost an expected pocket of downscaled presentation in one are while the rest runs quite smoothly. While your days on the farm may be long, your journey through Olive Town is also a task of its own. A list of requests are handed by Mayor Victor, most of which are to redeem the Town square’s economic structure. Seeing many of its storefronts re=open, you may shop for new clothes, visit the hair salon, and dine at the local restaurant.
While I’ve always been critical of dialogue without an accompanied vocal track, Story of Seasons gets a pass due to the old school, homely nature that it demonstrates. Much of it is more or less introductory and singular type of conversation with added cutscenes to give some character development. But its more or less a directory for more jobs lined up, whether it be in-town or on the farm. You can continue to unlock items for use through means of purchase, or craft and build them yourself. Urgent maintenance will call for fast action, this will no doubt drive you into town to purchase necessary equipment and rush back to the farm in hopes of restoring a patch of land that may be muddied by a sudden thunderstorm. The investments made will pay off in the long-run but keep an eye on that bank, as it does tend to drain quick – just like real life, right?
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is like a hug from a loved one as you’re welcomed home. A warmth that can only be described in its wonderous, encroachment that encapsulates a merry delivery in complete solitude. It was something I desperately needed. The engagement between friendly locals, the isolated calm of the getaway and a contemporary overture that accompanies each season will have your senses absolutely tingling with elation. An innocence that glows throughout the onset, and charm that cannot be overstated. Story of Seasons’ legacy continues to grow through its muddied Harvest Moon bedrock, right to foundations that deliver a contrast and loop that’s sorely underrated.
Welcome to Olive Town, a peaceful community established by your trailblazing grandfather and his friends. Now that you’ve taken over his farm, it’s your job to carry on his legacy. Plant crops, raise animals, build relationships, and get to know the residents.