Somewhere in Harvest Moon: One World There is a really interesting seed of an idea for a new take on farming simulations, which would be greatly appreciated after 25 years of very similar games. And in the right hands, turning a farm simulator series into a plot-driven, exploration-driven adventure game sounds like a brilliant idea. And yet, One World fails in every way to do anything interesting or innovative with this new idea other than layering it on top of a deeply mediocre farming simulation.
Unlike its many Harvest Moon predecessors and competitors, One World doesn’t require you to inherit an old farm in a dying village and spend years rebuilding them, getting to know your neighbors, and generally settle in. Instead, you are given a portable farm (your scientific neighbor shows up at your door and says, “Look, I made you a portable farm” and that’s the end of the discussion) within the first 10 minutes and sent on an adventure through his world, through five different cities with their own climates, hazards and problems. You’ll park your farm in one spot for a season, complete the local plot in front of you, and then move on.But the unique world of One World is boring in every way. Everything looks bland except for the named character models, which are absolutely decent. The towns are drab and empty with only a few identical houses each, the areas between them are mostly long and identical paths, and everything looks flat and simple. There’s no detail, no personality – just long stretches of empty space, maybe with a thrown tree if you’re lucky.
It doesn’t always work properly. The sound stutters frequently as you move from one area to another. Characters and items appear and disappear from existence – sometimes on purpose based on their respective schedules, but sometimes just because they don’t charge quickly enough. This is especially serious when you are riding a horse. As much as I hate to call anything “X-era graphics,” the GameCube version of Harvest Moon was way more detailed and exciting to watch than that. (But then that was before the original developer left to make Story of Seasons insteadThe aesthetic of One World is not where worldliness ends. Unlike other Harvest Moon games where you get to know a city of distinct and likeable neighbors, there are few characters actually developed in One World apart from its singles and singles roster and another named character in each area. . The vast majority of the cast is made up of like-minded individuals with names like “Awkward Man” or “Thoughtful Woman” whose only personality trait is sending you endless mails asking you to bring them random items. . And that’s a terrible idea because again, these characters tend to disappear completely at certain times of the day, sometimes right in front of your eyes, and sometimes when you’re about to embark on a quest.
Harvest Moon: Screenshots of a World
Singles and singles have a bit more going for them in the personality department, but they’re still pretty similar in the end. They all care about their respective cities, they need your help to save them, and they think the main character is healed. For the most part, they can be distinguished almost entirely by their appearance and which city they hang out in the most. Marrying one is irrelevant, almost like an afterthought, closed behind a lot of time spent in extremely boring mines and, for some reason, completing the main storyline – you can’t get married until then. You can also have a child, but your offspring takes care of your spouse’s family side in that they don’t do anything interesting.
Oh, and you can’t be queer, despite the competition from Harvest Moon History of the seasons and Stardew Valley having recognized what year it already is. Developers say this feature was missed because of COVID-19, and that it will be present in future games, but it’s still extremely frustrating when so many other games offer it. And since One World doesn’t really tell you who is and who can’t be dated for a while, I spent a lot of time giving Kirsi gifts for no reason.
With an empty world and a soulless cast, that leaves real farming to carry One World… and it doesn’t. The Harvest Goddess is, as usual in Harvest Moon games, absent, which has caused everyone in the world to forget about how farming and seeds work. So instead of buying seeds from the store, you have to hunt them down. Harvest Wisps scattered around the world will give you one seed per day per strand, which means a lot of your ability to actually use your farm also relates to exploring the world.
And like the exploration angle, One World’s farming has several exciting new ideas that could have opened up an exciting new direction had it been handled differently. For example, every crop has certain seasons and regions of the world in which it grows best. You can still plant crops out of season or in other areas, but they will grow more slowly – or become entirely different crops. Eggplant grown outside its preferred area may turn into a white eggplant, or a tomato may turn into a glazed tomato in the snowy region.There is a lot of potential here for fun experiments on where you place your farm and what and when you grow crops, but it has never been realized. The problem with all of this is that nothing is ever really explained. After more than 20 hours in One World, with the Harvest Goddess resurrected and the main story completed, I’m still not entirely clear how they work. There isn’t a real log that shows exactly how to get which mutations even after you’ve gotten them already, and even if you’re planting the same crop in the same region at the same time, it doesn’t always seem to mutate. I’m sure there’s something here I’m missing, and while the mutations are largely inconsequential (I was also able to find seeds for all of the mutations I’ve done separately so far) , it’s really frustrating if you’re trying to grow, say, an asparagus from regular asparagus seeds for a quest, but keep getting purple asparagus instead and you don’t know why.
One World lacks clear instructions everywhere, often putting you in frustrating dead end situations. A later story-critical quest wanted me to collect four of some sort of sheep’s wool … but there were only three slots in my barn at the time and they were already occupied by a cow, a horse and a regular sheep. Anyway, I would have to buy the special sheep required to get this wool and wait several weeks in the game for it to mature and produce the wool. But I also had to either get rid of one of my other animals to make room for it in my barn, or expand my barn – which I had no idea how to do at the time. The barn expansion is revealed to be closed behind a long series of salvage quests that give no indication that the building expansion is at the end.This was just one example, but this obtuse quest and upgrade design has become a frustrating hurdle multiple times throughout One World, with many progression quests requiring specific seeds or upgrades. tools and no indication of where these could be found. Your best bet, outside of an online guide, is to simply talk to everyone constantly and repeatedly and do all possible quests until you accidentally stumble upon what you are looking for.
I haven’t yet mentioned all of the many little annoyances that occurred while playing, none of which are worth a paragraph on their own, but all of which have contributed to my growing frustration with One World. Why can’t I have more than one stack of a single item in my storage or inventory at a time? Why is my stamina constantly decreasing just while walking? Is there any point in giving gifts to random unnamed NPCs? Why can’t my dog go outside? Why does keeping my animals happy seem like nothing at all, and why do they automatically drop dead after about a year?
The best I can say about One World is that it’s all good – something you can play without thinking with a podcast and not feel awful. That said, with two Story of Seasons games in a month and Stardew Valley update 1.5 on top of that, I can’t think of a reason why anyone who loves the Harvest Moon lore should be playing One World. It lacks just about every possible advanced feature of any similar game, and its attempts to do something new with the series are half-baked and frustrating.