My everyday routine in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town often took countless in-game hours, but it became necessary to get the cash rolling in. The options for how you tackle your role on the farm will no doubt differ from mine, but it is in this individuality where the game becomes so magical. I would wake up and water the crops, check on my livestock and start converting their milk and cheese into mayonnaise, cheese, and yogurt. Afterwards I’d head into town, talk to the locals, then buy some seeds to replenish what I’d harvested. I might even visit the local bistro for a pizza, do a spot of fishing, then head home to my cabin to play with my dog.
Everyday is packed full of things to do that you will feel overwhelmed. It is impossible to do everything, and once you learn that it becomes more enjoyable when you finally find your routine. On top of using the various machines to make lumber, threads, seeds, bricks, and more, you have to head into the mines with a mallet and collect ore and stone. Keeping your farm clear from countless trees, grass, and plants that start growing, as well as puddles of water after a heavy rainfall take up enough time on their own. Breeding livestock, cooking, walking your dog, and rebuilding the various buildings that have crumbled over time will also take plenty of hard work to fix.
Maintaining your farm is a tough job to do, and learning how all the different machines work takes time. You start off with a selection of tools to look after your farm. A mallet will break rocks and destroy fresh trees that have started to grow; the hoe helps you till the land so you can plant fruit, vegetables, and flowers; the axe chops down trees; the bucket clears water away from the land; and the watering can keeps the earth moist and in-turn helps your plants to grow. You can visit Pioneer Town to upgrade these tools, but you’ll need money and materials to do so. Everything feeds into everything else, and it’s your job to learn how the rich agricultural tapestry is created.
You’re free to do whatever you want. There are no time limits, no goals, no final boss – nothing. You do what makes you happy, and if that’s owning a barn filled with ten alpacas, then go for it. My favourite thing about Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is the animals. Every morning I’d collect their produce, give them a brush, then fuss them for a bit whilst stocking up their food. If the sun was shining, I’d let them have a run around outside. Being consistent with their care meant the quality of milk, wool, and eggs improved, and eventually the chance to breed your own animals happened. In every facet of your farm, the more you do something, the better you become.
If you’d rather focus on making clothes, there’re plenty of options for you to create threads and cloth, and coloured dyes. If your heart lies in growing fruit trees or pineapples, focus on your crops. Whatever you decide, Marvellous Europe has made sure you’re fully equipped to improve, and even reward for your hard work. Visiting the town hall after completing a particular milestone or leveling up rewards you with an item, such as a new ‘maker’ machine or a medal. You can also pick up rewards while you are there to earn a bit of extra gold. Pioneer Town is a warm and welcoming place that always makes you feel at home.
Getting to know the locals builds up a good relationship with them, and if you have the time, you can even fall in love with one of them. Throughout the four seasons, the mayor will hold special events that play out in mini-games, such as the Summer Jamboree where you toss barrels in the sea. If you finish in the top three, you’ll get a trophy which can be placed in your home, acting as a nice reminder to when you smashed the other competitors. You can expand your house, donate fish and treasures to the museum without anyone resembling the annoying owl from Animal Crossing telling you how much they hate bugs.
As you begin to expand your farm by fixing broken bridges, you’ll gain access to new buildings such as the silo and the stables. You’ll also gain access to silver and gold ore, as well as precious gems that can then be used to craft expensive jewellery. There is so much to do that, as corny as it sounds, makes everyday feels like an adventure. Your farm continues to spawn new trees or grass after they’ve been cut, and whilst this provides a constant source of materials, it does make everything look untidy. It’s impossible to keep on top of four different areas as you’re so busy elsewhere, so becoming resigned to the fact it’ll never look tidy is something you should do early on.
When you’ve got so much going on on your farm, the game does suffer with some framerate issues. Running through a large vegetable patch, past thirty makers, and countless trees does feel clunky at times, both in handheld and docked. It’s a bright and colourful game that suffers with the odd technical issue, but on the whole Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is filled with beauty, and every new discovery comes with a buzz of excitement. After unlocking a new area, you might find a new type of flower, a new animal, or a better source of wood, and this expands the types of crafting you can do. You can even craft furniture for your home, make a variety of spices to create new food dishes, or fill your farm with stone paths that give it a fancy new look.
There’s also the magical mechanics that come with Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town in the form of Sprites. No matter what you do in the game, you’ll occasionally find a sprite hiding amongst the bushes or the rocks, and eventually you’ll unlock the ability to travel to their magical home. Upon doing so, you’ll be able to allocate an amount to harvest materials, and once done they’ll give you special tokens to spend. Whilst the items on offer might be a cherry or grape, these can be converted into seeds and rapidly increase your total gold.
There’s so much joy in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, with so many avenues to head down that it always feel like your story is unique. There might appear to be too much to do by yourself, however, as long as you find your own comfort zone, there’s no telling just how much fun you’ll have. I was quite late coming to Stardew Valley, but after giving it time I fell in love with the genre. Whilst this shares many similarities, I much prefer the cute characters, depth of opportunities, and freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want to.
So much to do
Progression is balanced perfectly
Every day offers something new
Cute characters and colourful environments
Does suffer from framerate issues
Farm can become quite messy
Overwhelming at times