The video game industry has no shortage of farming simulators, but even with the surplus, fans eat them up. From Stardew Valley to Harvest Moon, there are juggernauts in space, while other titles like Rune Factory have worked to diversify what a simulator can do. Now Square Enix is entering the world of farming sims with Harvestella, an ambitious JRPG packed with life simulation goodies. And thanks to its signature art and pacing, Harvestella is one of the genre’s most promising entries in some time.
The game works like most life simulators as players start by creating an avatar that will live in a fanatical world ruled by giant crystals called Seaslights. As the days pass and the seasons change, these crystals keep nature in balance, but that script is reversed when Quietus, the Season of the Dead, comes. This relentless period grows longer every year, and with no end in sight, players must venture to stop Quietus from permanently throwing their world out of sync.
Of course, this JRPG has the standard combat you’d expect. You can join yourself in one of twelve classes, and if we’re being honest, Harvestella doesn’t rock the boat when it comes to fighting. The combat mechanics are smooth and the ability to fight with up to two other allies is a nice touch. Even as the game progressed, I didn’t find the combat overly difficult, so casual RPG fans will do well with the system. But if you’re looking for punitive combat then Harvestella isn’t what you’re looking for.
However, the game does shine in its story and simulation elements. Players can explore the villages they enter before taking their time farming, fishing, cooking and crafting. These systems are explained in several painstaking tutorials, but the reward is worth it. Between these simulation elements and its side missions, Harvestella feels incredibly fleshed out, and much of that is down to the art direction. As always, Square Enix’ whimsical style shines in this new release, making it one of the most beautiful life simulators out there.
At its core, Harvestella is an exciting promise of things to come for RPG aficionados as Square Enix is poised to bring its very own farming sim to life. From the beautiful visuals to the side quests, there’s plenty to do and see while playing. However, players should temper their expectations if they think Harvestella is a simple sim. This ambitious project is more JRPG than simulator, and the pace proves it. If all you’re after is farming and chasing after the locals, Harvestella will prove more than you can handle. But if a JRPG with simulation features appeals to you, then Harvestella is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Harvestella is now available on Nintendo Switch. ComicBook.com was given a copy of the game for review.