Harvestella seems to be a rudimentary but charming life-simulation game
We've tried Square Enix's upcoming life-sim RPG, as part of a recent London event.
One of the most anticipated titles coming from Square Enix over the rest of 2022 is the life-simulation RPG known as Harvestella. Coming to PC and Nintendo Switch, this game is all about growing and developing a homestead in a small, enchanting world, all while helping the townsfolk with tasks, solving various mystical problems, and facing threats of many different kinds. I'm aware of all of this, as recently, I had the chance to check out Harvestella as part of a Square Enix event in London, where I got to check out the opening portion of the game.
For starters, I won't be commenting too much on the storyline and narrative at the game's core, because it was quite frankly a little difficult to keep tabs on during the hands-on session. The basic premise is that you find yourself subjected to the Queitus, a deathly changing of the seasons that is perceived as being fatal to humans, but somehow you survive this, and soon after find yourself under the watchful eye of Lethe Village's local doctor, Cres, an individual who finds your survival a confounding mystery. Soon after meeting Cres, the village is almost hit by a falling object, which you discover is a sort of pod for a perceptively evil faction known as the Omens, and from here on out, more questions are posed, and very few answers are given. Rather we can probably expect them to be approached far deeper into the narrative.
But what this session did provide was an interesting look at the gameplay itself, and all the differing avenues that make it up. For starters, the farming and life-simulation systems seem to be quite straightforward. You can plough field plots, then plant unique seeds, before watering them and tending to them as the crop grows. But this also goes a step further, as you can craft a multitude of tools that can help you expand and tidy up your farming land, such as hammers to break obscuring boulders. And this is all on top of being able to then customise your homestead with fences and other goodies to improve the aesthetic of the area, while managing health, hunger, sleep, and other systems that define and impact your character.
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While I wish I could comment further on the crafting system and what this entails, I unfortunately didn't quite get to see this in full. What I did get to see however is the exploration side of the game and how this factors into gathering useful resources. This starts by heading to the world map, which allows you to actually move your character between locations, rather than simply having a fast travel suite. Once you arrive at the desired location, you're freer to explore, pick up resources and items that have been dropped on the floor, and also most likely fight off threatening creatures that call the location home. Before touching on combat in further depth, I would like to add that the exploration elements I got to see also seemed to be quite rudimentary and a little uninspired, so hopefully this will be expanded on as the storyline progresses.
But anyway, back to combat. This plays more like a traditional RPG, and sees you using your weapon to attack enemies in real-time, while they do the same. There are no turn-based systems in place, or anything of the likes, it's all instantaneous and feels quite engaging, even if, similar to a lot of Harvestella's systems, it feels quite basic and lacking in depth. And I say this because, there weren't too many options to how you could approach combat. This isn't to an A-RPG's standard, giving you many different attack options or movement mechanics. No. This also seemed to embrace the what you see if what you get style, and while it did fit the general theme of what Harvestella is aiming to offer, I can't help but hope there will be deeper options in place later in the game.
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But otherwise, it is worth noting that Harvestella is an incredibly striking game. I tested it on an OLED Switch, and the graphics looked fantastic, full of crisp colour and truly vibrant. And in quite an opposing vein to my previous comments, the time system that is used seems to be rather demanding and a little oppressive, as from what I saw, days tend to go by quickly, meaning you will need to be very smart with how you spend your time in-game, which is often the opposite approach a lot of life-sim titles take.
Still, I was undoubtedly entertained by Harvestella during my play time. I look forward to seeing how Square Enix expands some of the systems they have in place later in the narrative, because the core concept works well, it just could do with some further depth, and similarly, getting some answers to the questions surrounding the storyline will be fantastic. Either way, this is shaping up to be an adorable and charming game that is dripping with charisma, and it's definitely one of my most anticipated titles coming this November.