Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town’s chilled out farming is perfect on the Switch | Hands-on preview
Ever since Animal Crossing New Horizons, I’ve been a huge advocate of living a chilled out existence within a virtual world. It’s been years since I played a Harvest Moon title, and ever since Marvellous Inc. acquired the franchise, I’ve been looking for my kicks elsewhere. I’ve only recently gotten stuck into Stardew Valley, and knowing what I know now, I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t play it sooner. There’s something soothing about planting your seeds, tending to your animals, and making friends in an inviting town that I adore, and Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is about as wonderful as it gets. For those of you hoping this game delivers on its promises of complete freedom, you will not be disappointed.
Within a couple of hours of my time with Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, I’d set up three lumber makers to convert chopped wood into lumber, converted my tent into a cabin, planted a variety of seeds into my tilled soil, and cleared my farmland of overgrown grass. It’s more accessible than Stardew Valley, and when you’re playing alone you’ll be grateful to the town mayor for paying you a visit over the first week or so. You’re free to do whatever you want. Making money is important as you’ll not be able to buy seeds, upgrades, or livestock, but the ways in which you can do so open up to you at a steady and welcoming pace.
Part of the reason I fell in love with Animal Crossing was the pleasure of thinking about what I was going to do daily, or how I was going to improve my island. Having so many options in the latest Story of Seasons made each day exciting. You’re always given new challenges, such as fixing a dilapidated barn so you can welcome larger animals to graze and live in, plant new vegetable seeds, or begin crafting new items. The more you improve your farm, the more possibilities there are. As you collect more wood, grass, and stone, new items can be crafted, and if you grow more vegetables, flowers, or fruit, you’re rewarded with better equipment to tend to your farm. Everything has its place, and you’ll pick it up in no time.
When you’re not tending to your farm, you’ll be heading to the nearby town where you can purchase a whole manner of goods. Pioneer Town is full of friendly faces always willing to offer advice, and visiting the town hall will allow you to pick up small requests that reward you will gold. Someone might need a couple of pieces of steel ingots or lumber, whilst others might need a particular flower. You can also collect rewards from here once you level up your farming paths. Break 100 rocks or take care of your chicken and you’ll earn some cool stuff simply by playing. You can improve your farm by buying livestock, purchasing flowers, seeds, and upgrades to your tools, but you can also visit the local restaurant to improve your energy. There’s a museum that rewards you for finding particular wares, and you’ll also be able to buy a pet to accompany you on your farm. Building friendships with the residents of Olive Town can be done simply by chatting with them or giving gifts, and if you’re lucky, romance might be on the cards.
Outside of the various events you can take part in with residents, there’s also somewhat of a story you’ll slowly start to uncover. I won’t spoil it here, but Marvellous Inc. has included some cool touches when it comes to the magic that is involved within the world. When you unlock the Sprites who’ll help you daily, there’s a completely new element to the game that offers you even more ways to improve your farm. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is packed with stuff to do, and in the preview I played, I was never lost for inspiration. I’m seriously in love with it, and I cannot wait to spend hours making my farm the best it can be. Just when you feel as though you’ve found a comfortable pace to improve your farm, the game will throw something new and exciting at you, opening your eyes to just how vast it is.
Although I’ve only played through much of the first year, I’m already addicted. It’s charming, beautiful to look at, and offers a great deal of comfort and warmth. The depth in its gameplay is far superior to that of Animal Crossing New Horizons, and whilst it is still early days on White Ridge Farm, I never want to leave. I’ve made friends for life, built strong bonds with the animals I live with, and am so damn proud of the little piece of heaven I’ve built from the ground up.