In my preview of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, I was relatively limited to what I was able to disclose, but I was excited to experience everything that Olive Town and its residents had to offer as both a newcomer to the town, as well as a newcomer to the farming sim genre. Coming into Pioneers of Olive Town, I was familiar enough with the genre thanks to my time spent playing other titles within the same vein, such as Summer in Mara and the more recently released (on Switch) Littlewood. One thing those games didn’t have compared to Pioneers of Olive Town, though, was its emphasis on relationships, falling in love, and eventually, getting married.
While that focus definitely changed the way I played this farming and crafting sim, I have to say that my experience with the rest of the game remained relatively unchanged from my time spent previewing its early build. Of course, this should all be qualified with the fact that I’ve never played a Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon title before, so the majority of my review comes from the perspective of how successful the game is in appealing to newcomers to the series, or even to the sim genre in general. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has definitely become a timesink for me in a great way – which says a lot coming from someone who has generally dismissed these sort of life sim games in the past.
In Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, you become the newest resident of Olive Town, having inherited your grandfather’s old and decrepit farm. After the first few days on the farm clearing out the overgrowth, planting a few seeds, and meeting a few of the local townspeople who offer up help (in the way of unlocking new abilities and features), you’re able to venture into Olive Town itself, meeting more residents, visiting shops, and becoming a valued member of the community. Of course, that’s a pretty simplistic description. There’s far more to it than that.
Running a sustainable farm is no small task. Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit of a grind at the beginning, but things eventually start to fall into place as you build machines and facilities to do a lot of the work for you, such as automatic feeders for your barnyard chums, or industrial machines that allow you to craft items from raw materials such as lumber, cloth, seeds, seasonings… quite honestly, there are a ton of machines that can help you out. The problem with this is that these machines – called Makers – take up space, and even though your farm can be cleared of trees and rubbish, you still have a finite amount of real estate to work with. I’ve found that I’ve had to make sacrifices in my production speeds and quantities because of this, which isn’t too big of a deal for me and my playstyle. However, it seems like a thing that might turn more industrious players off.
My playstyle is more easygoing. I mentioned in my preview that I eventually decreased my desire to get to any sort of endgame content and just play through Pioneers of Olive Town at my own pace, whether it be farming, clearing my land (which is a never-ending process), tending to my livestock, gathering resources, searching for treasure and exploring new Sprite-filled areas on my motorcycle or mount, or just taking in the sights and sounds of the city. And fishing. So much fishing. For the most part, that worked for me. However, as days turned into months, and months into seasons, I did have to adjust my gameplay to fit the dynamics of the in-game calendar.
Partaking in Pioneers of Olive Town’s seasonal events is a nice little changeup from my normal routine, especially since the townspeople are all about whatever event is taking place. It’s really all anyone talks about, both before and after the event. In fact, after initial introductions and gaining an understanding of what everyone is hoping will happen to the quiet city of Olive town (which you’ll assist with), all of the residents seem to get some kind of shared mentality where they all talk about the same situation or recent event, like how I “helped so-and-so do a thing” and “how nice I am for doing so.” It’s a bit Stepford, but I looked past most of it since I was primarily interested in striking up a relationship with two characters in particular – Linh, who runs the town’s flower shop, and Laura, the town’s tour guide.
The courtship process in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is… interesting. The same flat dialogue extends into conversations with any prospective bachelors or bachelorettes. To be honest, even though I know that the game has an emphasis on relationships, I kind of just wanted to be left to my devices and maintain my farm on my own. However, with my character’s biological clock ticking, I figured it was best to leave the dating life behind and marry Laura (after a few long seasons of “dating”), which eventually led to us having a child of our very own.
So now, here I am with a wife, kid, and decently self-sustaining farm. The “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work” meme continually enters my mind now as I play, now affixed in an even more regular routine than what I had when I was living on my own.
Therein lies my struggle of where to go from here. I’ve read that divorce is apparently a possible feature in Pioneers of Olive Town, but that’s just not a route I’m interested in taking. I think, to me, this feels like the endgame content that I was once eagerly trying to quickly get to. I’m glad that I stopped and slowed down. Otherwise, I think I wouldn’t have been pretty disappointed (even though this is a major point of the game).
It was fun developing my character as a newcomer to the franchise, but, goodness, it’s been a lot of work. I’ll probably play Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town for a few more seasons just to see what develops. After that though, I’ll likely be saying, “So long,” to Olive Town for at least a little while.
A Switch code for Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town was provided to TheGamer for this review. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town releases for Nintendo Switch on March 23.
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Sam has been writing for TheGamer since early 2018, earning the role as the Lead Features & Review Editor in 2019. The Denver, Colorado-native’s knack for writing has been a life-long endeavor. His time spent in corporate positions has helped shape the professional element of his creative writing passion and skills. Beyond writing, Sam is a lover of all things food and video games, which – especially on weekends – are generally mutually exclusive, as he streams his gameplay on Twitch (as well as TheGamer’s Facebook page) under the self-proclaimed, though well-deserved moniker of ChipotleSam. (Seriously…just ask him about his Chipotle burrito tattoo). You can find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @RealChipotleSam.
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