Harvestella evaluation: a conventional JRPG with a farming twist

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Harvestella is a JRPG. This might appear to be an extremely apparent factor to say a few role-playing game from Square-Enix, but it surely’s crucial factor to know getting into. Billed as a life sim RPG, and with a title that evokes farming, you possibly can be forgiven for anticipating one thing alongside the strains of Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley, however with extra monster biffing. Instead, Harvestella sits firmly within the epic quest camp, together with your adventuring being supported by your rural actions.

Anyone trying to construct a pastoral paradise goes to be sorely dissatisfied, because the farming components are considerably rudimentary. Even calling your property a farm is a little bit of a stretch. Even after a couple of upgrades, my plot is extra of a giant backyard, possibly an allotment, if I’m being beneficiant.

If calling your plot a farm is overselling issues, the preliminary description of your dwelling as a shed is kind of the alternative. It’s a stunning cottage that I’m fairly certain has extra sq. footage than my two-bedroom home. The draw back is, very like the farm, there’s no customisation to talk of. While some new bits of furnishings pop up through the game, like a kitchen you must unlock early on and an impressively massive tome that retains a report of your numerous farming and preventing achievements, it’s all fairly static. Character customisation can be restricted. You can choose your gender presentation in addition to your eye, hair, and pores and skin color, however that’s it. In a pleasant contact, you select your pronouns, voice, and physique individually, though the latter is between androgynous and woman. No beefcake adventurers for you!

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That’s to not say that the farming and crafting facet of issues aren’t properly built-in with the adventuring. Your stamina bar solely regenerates if you’ve been fed. Food and drink present all of the therapeutic, healing, and buffing properties you’d anticipate from potions and the like in a typical fantasy RPG. You additionally craft instruments similar to restore kits and bombs, that are used to open hidden areas and shortcuts whereas your dungeon delving. Excess produce might be offered for money, and some of the dependable sources of earnings is cooking up numerous dishes for the inns situated in every city.

Most importantly, the life sim facet of issues provides a stable basis to your adventures. You begin the day, water and harvest your crops and gather the produce out of your animals, a course of that solely takes a few minutes, due to some well-positioned fast journey/save game crystal thingies. After any replanting, you set off on no matter quest or mission is on the agenda till 10pm when your character will get drained and their stats drop. Then you come back dwelling to sleep and begin another time. The clock pauses everytime you’re in a cutscene or a dialog, so should you’re doing a number of facet quests, a day can final a superb whereas. Otherwise, it solely takes 10-Quarter-hour of real-time to get by a complete day. This lends a satisfying rhythm to proceedings, reducing issues into bite-size chunks and including that moreish, “only one extra flip” feeling.

Constantly leaping out and in of dungeons due to these time constraints might get irritating, however they’ve been cleverly structured to work with the rhythm

Constantly leaping out and in of dungeons due to these time constraints might get irritating, however they’ve been cleverly structured to work with the rhythm. Dungeons are available two sorts, they’re both areas of wilderness that you simply’re making an attempt to cross, after which they will simply be walked by on the world map, or they’re places with goals and an enormous boss on the finish. In each instances, they’re full of shortcuts to unlock as you progress, making it faster and simpler to succeed in the identical level subsequent time. It’s a bit like working by an space in Dark Souls, besides as a substitute of retreading the world since you died to an undead monstrosity, it’s since you had to return dwelling for a kip and to make some extra snacks.

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As for the fight itself, it’s…wonderful. It’s easy real-time fare with a single assault button, dodging, and as much as 4 completely different particular abilities on cooldown timers. They’re largely massive assaults, however there are some buff and debuff talents too. It’s livened up considerably by a job system, which I’m all the time a fan of. Every time a brand new character joins the get together, it unlocks their class as a job for the protagonist. You can have as much as three of those outfitted at one time and swap between them throughout fight, although there’s a brief cooldown concerned. Enemies have elemental weaknesses and resistances, and what little depth there’s comes from matching up your get together and jobs to take care of the unfold of foes in a given dungeon. Bosses might be “damaged” by doing sufficient injury of a kind they’re weak to, which provides you a interval of bonus injury. Achieving a Double Break lets you unleash a pal’s particular transfer. Like the farming facet, it’s all pretty primary, but it surely meshes collectively properly.

It might sound like I’m being fairly down on issues, however the fact of the matter is that I’ve loved the game immensely. As I could have talked about, Harvestella may be very a lot a JRPG, which implies that it’s stuffed stuffed with over-designed outfits and charmingly fairly cities, and is annoyingly handholdy for the primary hour or two. It’s additionally completely bonkers and I’m a sucker for an over-the-top anime-esque rollercoaster of a narrative. The game opens together with your amnesiac protagonist turning up outdoors the village of Lethe (I see what they did there) not lengthy earlier than an enormous crystal factor containing a lady from the long run plummets out of the sky. Before it, you’re off to avoid wasting the world by fixing some even greater crystals referred to as Seaslights and that’s earlier than it begins delving into mild, fluffy topics just like the that means of life and dying, or the character of religion.

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Side quests floor issues and allow you to get to know the gang of misfits you accumulate alongside the best way. Plenty of these go straight for a budget melodrama and had me reaching straight for the tissues. They have an orphanage within the second city, of us, the second bloody city. Harvestella goes straight for heartstrings, by your ribcage if needed.

Overall, the presentation is beautiful, particularly the music, nonetheless it’s very apparent that it’s a Switch game. The limitations of the {hardware} it was designed for are clear and there are few graphics choices to tweak. It’s not fully a unfavorable although, because it felt like a game properly suited to curling up on the couch with a handheld, and it made me actually want I had a Steam Deck to play it on.

Harvestella is way over the sum of its unexceptional components. Almost each side of it simply does the job it’s imagined to do, but it surely all slots collectively so properly that it turns into a compulsively pleasurable expertise. If you’re searching for a meaty JRPG to gobble up in palatable chunks over the ever-longer nights, you completely can not go improper with this one.

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