Video Games

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life Review

I remember having fun collecting and raising cows in Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life 20 years ago, but now that I’ve played the 2023 remake, I realize how boring it was. Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is as much about building a family as it is about farming, but both farming and socializing fall short of modern farming sims. This can be a fascinating adventure with activities you can literally keep doing for a lifetime thanks to the aging process and speedy gameplay each day. Developer Marvelous has also added same-sex marriage and new singles to spice up the dating pool. However, these additions aren’t enough to counteract the bland background, forgettable characters, and a few quirks that make it feel unnecessarily dated.

As with many works, your story begins with taking over your father’s farm in the Forgotten Valley. But this adventure soon goes beyond just planting crops. In Wonderful Life, it becomes clear early on that your relationship with your local townspeople is a more important goal than how much cash you’ve invested in your barn. Of course, farming and improving relationships go hand in hand, but farming goals have no deadline. On the other hand, if you don’t manage to get married within the first year of her, the playthrough actually ends abruptly. This is an odd choice that forces you to interact with your romantic interest instead of letting that connection come naturally.

But one of the highlights of Wonderful Life is the aging system that encourages newlyweds to start raising their children into functioning adults with their own hopes and dreams. After a season or two, the city starts to feel like its own character, but changes in interesting ways as the years go by over six different “chapters of life.” Townsfolk age over time, new furniture and upgrades become available, excavation sites expand, and other changes affect gameplay slightly.

However, that is assuming that you can continue to invest for that long. Wonderful Life lasts for 30 years of his in-game time when played to the end, in hopes that he will feel that he invested enough in raising his children to build his own farm during those years. seems to rely on Play time per day is about 25 minutes if you stay up late at night, there are four seasons and there are 10 days each, so it takes about 15 to 20 hours to finish a year. The first year was fun, but it didn’t intrigue me enough to make me want to do it into my old age.

The characters lack an intriguing backstory.

It would be more exciting to develop a relationship if the characters had an intriguing and interesting backstory, but it really isn’t. In Wonderful Life, the inner struggles and complicated pasts that I can relate to are not detailed enough for me to resonate with. The bachelors and bachelorettes here bond with you in short, uninteresting cutscenes that try too hard to keep you together. Many of my conversations with potential lovers felt superficial, and I was reluctant enough to get to know them for the first year. Most of the conversation feels more like small talk with a coffee shop cashier than neighborhood jokes. You don’t have to ask people about the weather or start telling your own life story.

To my credit, conversations can be contextual depending on location. The farm manager next door explained why she helps the inn owner with the crops when I listen to her in the garden of the inn in the middle of town. A few villagers also commented on the milky soup they bought at my store. One of the bachelorettes said my crop tasted awful after I gifted her oranges (thanks, Matt). This is more than many farm sim dwellers can handle, and it has made them a little more aware of the world around them.

Townspeople also mix up their conversations through seasons and growing affection levels. The insistence that Wonderful Life is a “live” game helped me understand its repetitive structure. This prompted me to investigate whether the gifts I gave them led to interesting conversations. Sometimes you want a distant farmer to tell you that all his crops taste awful, and finally he will be happy when he tells you one tastes good. Or maybe you want to play at least until fall and witness the grumpy girl at the inn saying she’s enjoying this weather for once.

Wonderful Life does a good job of streamlining many of the boring parts of the original game, such as stacking items, the ability to sell multiple items to the wandering merchant at once, and easier ways to upgrade your tools. The updated graphics brighten and smooth the gritty textures of the original game to make it feel even cuter. Also, more customization options are provided for the main character to make her feel more like herself. You can choose from different skin, hair, and eye colors, specify your gender, and even buy seasonal outfits, and it was fun swapping them out to make a difference.

As a fan of the genre, there were some things that weren’t intuitive to me.

These quality of life changes make it easier to play than the original. However, you’ll often need to learn through trial and error and read Takakura’s Notebook, a text tutorial that teaches you everything from how often to water your crops to where you can buy animals. Things you take for granted in other farming games, like how much food your cows need and where to sell your items, are hidden in the often-overlooked pages of notes. It might have been wiser to let them pop up at relevant moments in gameplay rather than relying on finding them by chance.

Even after finding those notes, I didn’t realize that the soil had been emptied due to green leaves remaining on the ground after harvest, or that the potatoes were of poor quality and were quick enough to survive spring. I’ve stumbled upon some issues, such as not growing on. soil. Takakura’s notes are long enough to cover most topics, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Wonderful Life does its best to weave these tidbits into random conversations, but even so, Farming’s preconceived notions about how his sims work lead him to a few things. You might end up ruining it. This means that, at least for those new to farming sims, it might not be too difficult to understand as you have to learn from scratch, but as a fan of the genre, these The point felt counter-intuitive.

I finally hit my stride as I learned more about crops and animals in a season or so. An average day is spent watering crops, milking cows, collecting eggs, picking flowers that have fallen on the ground, and generally finding the best way to monetize it all. It has been constructed. Unfortunately, cash comes in slower than your average farming sim, as shipping boxes limit what you can sell. You can only sell items that you can produce on your farm, such as milk, eggs, and crops, even if they come from other sources. That means no selling flowers, fish or failed dishes. You’ll have to wait for the traveling merchant Van to sell you the rest of your junk. You can sell yourself in the middle of town, but in that case you stand in the middle of the street for hours at a time when you can do something more productive like fishing or digging up fossils from ruins. is needed.

In the end, we modified the strategy to match the gameplay of Wonderful Life. Until Van came to town, I gave up everything I wanted to sell so I could pay for it quickly. I’ve learned to sell merchandise at my stand only if I happen to spot someone crossing the sidewalk as I peer down the street. So we didn’t have to stand there for hours waiting for people to pass by. Still, these workarounds felt cumbersome as it took time to save money on farm upgrades. It took almost a full season (10 days) before I made enough money to buy one high-end new cow.

Simplicity suits it, but it means there is much less going on.

Considering the faster times (compared to which a day can last an hour or more in something like Rune Factory 5) and the extensive catalog of animals you have access to early on, it’s a shame that this progression has dragged on. . This works in the context of his 30-year tale in Wonderful Life, but being able to upgrade your farm more quickly makes it even more worthwhile to play.

Certainly, the simplicity of Wonderful Life suits it. No complicated mining, production or combat system to worry about leveling up alongside marriage requirements. You can wrap up the day and relax without feeling like something is missing or overwhelmed to the point where you can’t focus on settling down with your partner in his first year. But that also means there’s a lot less going on than someone who’s only ever played a game like Stardew Valley might expect.

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