Bottom line: The shift in quality when it comes to Harvest Moon titles has been exceptionally noticed now that the series has switched developers. If you're coming to this game in the hopes of re-living your nostalgic times with Harvest Moon, I'd suggest checking out other farming simulators.
Cute character dialogue
Finding and growing seeds in different environments is fun
Fast travel is convenient
Poorly executed environments and overworld models
Lacking in quality-of-life improvements
Disappointing quests and events
No same-sex relationships
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Harvest Moon: One World is the latest entry in the popular franchise on the Nintendo Switch. It features your very own self-insert character who lives in a two-building village where people have seemingly forgotten about any food other than potatoes. Farming as a concept is unheard of, and your mom and best friend can't comprehend that there's more to life than potatoes.
But you've been holding on to a very special book that's hundreds of years old, with all the instructions you'll ever need to farm and live off the land. Determined to help restore the world to its former glory and reawaken the long-forgotten Harvest Goddess, you set out on your journey to help people learn to care for the land they live on, just as you would.
Harvest Moon: One World review What I like
Character dialogue Expressive and adorable
|Harvest Moon: One World
When the player character engages in conversation with any NPC, the scene switches to a dialogue cutscene where each party in the conversation is shown in an animated chibi-style manner. Characters emote and use their hands as they speak in a way that's adorable and gives some life to both the player character and NPCs, even if the textures in these cutscenes are incredibly stretched out.
Diverse crop farming Farm around the world
Players acquire seeds from Harvest Wisps scattered throughout the world, with different seeds being made available in different biomes. Players can look in their pockets and determine what environments a seed will thrive best in, and which seasons you should plant them in. Exploring the world and planning out what crops I can grow in each biome was the highlight of my playtime, definitely.
Convenient fast travel Now we're zoomin'
After clearing the first town you unlock the ability to fast travel to Harvest Sprite shrines, making farming in different biomes even more convenient. While the spawn point won't always be directly next to your farm, it gives you the opportunity to collect more seeds along the way. The omission of this feature would have severely dampened my experience, given how slow the walking speed is, so I'm super happy that it was included.
Harvest Moon: One World review What I don't like
Lifeless environments So much for breathing life into the valley
For such a large world, the developers of this game didn't seem to know what to do with all of the space they created. Many environments are incredibly empty, with flat colors and stretched-out textures. The framerate dips constantly, and sometimes running at normal speed is too much for the game, resulting in running into large black voids until the game decided to catch up. People popped in and out of existence sometimes, and the music stuttered so much I often didn't bother to play with it on, which is a shame because the music is so good.
The main draw of the game is being able to pack up your farm into a small object and unpack it in various areas around the world. However, it lacks customization options, as you're only allowed to place your farm in pre-determined areas, and no buildings can be moved once you place your farm down, so every farm looks the same. There was no option to till new land other than what is already laid out, which made me feel like my farm wasn't really mine.
Inadequate quality-of-life features Making life unnecessarily hard
There were many features that were missing in the time I spent with this game. I kept playing, thinking they would come… but they never did. I got super far into the main story and still found no way to upgrade my tools, which meant I was stuck with the same 10-tile limit for my watering can. The stamina meter featured hearts that reduced by half in a seemingly arbitrary manner, and there was no real way to tell what affected it. Because of this, not only did using tools reduce my stamina but moving through the world made that meter go down as well. In hot and cold environments, stamina depletes even faster, which was countered by consuming hot or cold dishes. However, this rule did not seem to apply when I stood atop an actual volcano.
In the early days when my bag was still small, I often found myself unable to receive more seeds, which was understandable as item management is a given at the beginning of many games. But there was no way for me to discard or drop items that I did not want in order to make room for new ones. This forced me to fast travel quite a bit and waste time trekking back and forth between waypoints and the place I wanted to be.
Disappointing quests and events Please respect my time
The main story of the game involves completing quests for various NPCs in different towns. This usually comes in the form of fetch quests, where crops, flowers or seeds are required to progress the story. Unfortunately, the number of crop seeds you can get every day is low, with 1-2 seeds available for various crops. Some days, specific seeds don't even spawn. You're forced to use the Wisp tracker in order to find the seeds you want, as there is no way to buy seeds once you've unlocked them.
After planting your crops, they may have a chance of mutating into different, more valuable crops. These crops don't count in your quest, though, and you could spend weeks trying to find seeds and hoping that they don't mutate once they're mature. I ended up venturing to other parts of the map and completing quests in other towns while I was waiting for the chance to complete one of my earliests quest lines.
The events that I participated in were also quite laughable. An "Equestrian Challenge" was announced and was hyped up as being a big deal by characters. I saved up 20,000 gold to buy myself a pretty chestnut horse and excitedly made my way to the NPC responsible for registering me and my mighty steed. I expected something along the lines of a fun obstacle course à la Nintendogs, but the event ended up consisting of a few disappearing red flags to run through. I came in second place and got… potatoes. Not exactly making me fired up to play through any of the other in-game events.
No same-sex relationships Pandemic scapegoating
Relationships and marriage have become quite standard for farming simulators and have been a key feature in past Harvest Moon games. Players are encouraged to build relationships with the town villagers and can even get married and have children. As games and culture have progressed, many games that involve relationship building allow for players to date whomever they want, regardless of gender.
The developer of Harvest Moon: One World has made a statement explaining that this would not be possible in this entry because of the pandemic restricting their ability to include content. However, they did have enough time and resources to create paid DLC to be bought for this game, right out of the gate. I'm not quite sure what would have been so difficult about allowing same-gender dating, but I'm also not a game developer. There was also no mention of it being patched in an update, as far as I know.
Harvest Moon: One World review Should you buy?
Harvest Moon: One World left me wanting more. As I played, I kept waiting for things to get better, but nothing ended up exciting me. Even some of the more interesting storylines in certain town quests were overshadowed by how tedious others were, not to mention the absence of any feelings of progression given that tools can't be upgraded to make life easier. When I thought about other similar games, I wished I were playing them instead. I think it's safe to say that you won't miss out on anything by skipping this entry in the Harvest Moon series. When it comes to farming- and life simulator games, you'll definitely find better games on the Nintendo Switch.
Farm anywhere, anytime
Expand your farming horizons
In the largest Harvest Moon game to date, players can pack their entire farm up and travel across the world, discovering new crops and helping people along the way.
Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.
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