Believe it or not, the Story of Seasons series is actually celebrating its 20th anniversary. That might come as a surprise to some because Story of Seasons has only existed outside of Japan for a couple of years. It is, in fact, a Harvest Moon game which I’m sure most of you out there have heard of. It isn’t a series that I have played every single iteration of, but I will say I have easily played at least 50 percent of them. From the ones I did play, I actually quite enjoyed them for the most part. With their similar kind of style, I was always more of an Animal Crossing kind of person but playing Harvest Moon was a nice deviation.
If you have never heard of either Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon, to describe it as simply as I could, would be to call it a rather addictive farm simulation game. As mentioned above, if you have played Animal Crossing then it won’t take you that long to get to grips with this game but having said that, don’t go into here thinking it’s a farming version of Animal Crossing because while similar, they do play quite different. Each game plays relatively similar with small changes here and there in the hope to make the game better. Sometimes that has worked and sometimes it’s failed, miserably.
There has been a bit of an influx of farming simulation games in recent times with titles such as Farming Simulator, the excellent Stardew Valley, and of course everybody’s favourite farming game, FarmVille. Some of these titles are providing us with an innovative take on the genre that has been ruled by Harvest Moon since the beginning. Unfortunately, Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns feels just like its predecessors and simply doesn’t add anything new.
When you first fire up the game you are able to create your own character; choose your gender, hair colour, the usual kind of things you expect to see. The game then introduces you to what I can only describe as one of the dullest and uninteresting openings to any game I’ve ever encountered because it drags on unnecessarily long and it simply doesn’t need to do that. Without being too long-winded, your character wants to become a farmer and moves out in order to fulfil this desire. Your father doesn’t hold up much hope for you and is all against the idea but can’t stop you from going off on your own. Your main goal is to effectively prove that your father was wrong.
You are given a farmland by your uncle who also happens to be a farmer himself (which is very convenient) and he acts as your guide somewhat and gives his assistance to you. Your father still gets involved by sending you letters that have goals to complete on them, completing them will, in a way, make him believe in you more and more.
Speaking of guides, the game continually pushes tutorials at you and, yes, you may learn something you hadn’t learned already, but it’s the way the game handles it that’s the problem. It’s too frequent and the scenes that accompany them are, again, too drawn out, with dialogue that has no life to it. It is just very dreary if I’m honest. I personally think that more could have been done to keep the tutorials less frequent or even just so it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game as poorly as it does.
The core elements that the series has been known for over the years still remains here and I do have to say it’s still just as addictive. In essence, all you are doing is the same tasks pretty much every day but there is just something about it that makes you not put your 3DS down. Your basic tasks include activities such as growing crops, watering them and tending to your animals. Not every task has to be done every single in-game day, which helps the game become too repetitive as it means you’re not doing the exact same thing over and over and over again.
I actually found the change of weather to be a really cool feature, as peculiar as that might sound to people because it again acts as a way to keep the game from being too pedestrian as crops won’t need to be watered, for example. Meaning that you are then free to spend your morning doing whatever you would like to in the game. I for one spent this quality time by going fishing usually, as it’s something that you can tend to not be able to do for a good while if you don’t specifically make some time to do so.
When it comes to the animals, you are able to buy a variety of them like sheep, cows, and chickens, with many of them having different variations that are more expensive to buy, but give out better rewards. Some animals will produce goods for you every day, whereas some might take a few days. For cows, you will need to use a milker on them every day. For egg-laying animals, you can just pick them up when you feel like it as they will pile up on the floor ready for you. For something like wool, you need to wait until the animals have enough on them before you can use clippers.
The big pull for this Story of Seasons game is exactly what its subtitle suggests. It has a Trio of Towns surrounding your farm. Each of the three towns has a distinct theme, which, while logistically a bit silly, is a good idea all round as it keeps the areas fresh for you. The first town is Westown, which is a settlement near the mountains and as the name suggests, it has a Western type feel to it. Westown is unlocked from the start. Next is Tsuyukusa Town, a traditional Japanese village that has an old-fashioned feel to it. Lastly is Lulukoko Village which has a tropical beach setting where residents will greet you with an ‘Aloha’. This area, for obvious reasons, reminded me a lot of the recent Pokémon Sun and Moon games.
There are plenty of things to do in the game, it isn’t all just the routine stuff like watering crops. Whether any of them will keep you interested is obviously down to you. You can go shopping and each of the three towns has a unique store. Westown has a flower shop, Tsuyukusa has a hair salon and Lulukoko has a fruit vendor. You can participate in festivals to display your farming talents and you can even get another part-time job which will gain you extra money so you can splash the cash a little more. You are also able to get married in the game and start a family, which truth be told is a little too easy as there isn’t really any challenge in finding out which gifts certain people prefer. Give them enough gifts and eventually, you are then able to propose.
Speaking to NPC’s is obviously a big aspect of the game but one feature I really liked that I want to mention is the conversation shortcut. Basically, you don’t need to go into a full conversation with every person that strolls by now. By pressing the L button, you are able to activate a quick greeting that raises your standing within that community. It’s a really pleasant feature.
All in all, Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons game. It doesn’t really add a whole lot to the game that wasn’t already there and as such the series has slightly stuttered. Sure, fans of the series will love the game no matter what and if you are looking for a decent simulation game then you can do much worse. Having said that, unfortunately for Story of Seasons, other games in the genre have come along and been better. The tutorials are bothersome and you do need to be able to give the game time to grow on you, but once it does it somehow finds a way of gripping its teeth into you and making you addicted. It just won’t keep you addicted for a great length of time.