Harvestella has been on my watchlist since the game’s announcement in June. Combining the genres of life sim and RPG isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s an idea that’s been tried even in the DS era of gaming. However, Harvestella manages to stand out in an otherwise crowded space.
The first aspect that draws the eye is the world that the player character, Ein, inhabits, vividly colored while keeping the feeling of Square Enix’s flagship series, Final Fantasy. Crystals jut out from the earth almost everywhere you look. In addition, character designs are reminiscent of other spin-off titles, which feel familiar even when new concepts will rapidly make themselves known.
The central concept of farming has a unique identity despite the base mechanics being familiar with the genre. For example, vegetables grow surprisingly fast as most crops take only a day or two before they’re ready to harvest, then shipped out. This speed of growth helps ensures that players will quickly be able to start a flow of cash early on.
Of course, farming isn’t the only thing players will find themselves doing, as exploring dungeons requires facing powerful monsters. The combat feels fresh with skill trees for each class, letting players progress in their favorite classes, while leveling up will increase Ein’s overall stats.
The downside is that combat still hinges on pressing a single button while mixing in a skill every so often. Even job-switching mechanics didn’t help, as all that feels different between Mage and Fighter is the speed of the attacks and range. Additionally, separating classes means that if the fighter unlocks the dodge, the mage class won’t have access to that skill.
The ability to mix and match skills and classes would have added a layer of customization and an incentive to try out every class. Another trait I noticed is that most of the townsfolk act like traditional NPCs. They sit around in the same spot with the same few dialogue options.
This reduction of the townsfolk makes Harvestella feel much closer to an Action-RPG than the average life sim. Throughout the demo, I could never give gifts or check the calendar to see events. This could have been done to avoid spoilers in the early game, but the social aspect is a massive draw of life-sim titles that Harvestella might not be focusing on.
The story seems to have replaced the social aspect of life sims, focusing on defeating Quietus, a season between seasons where all life withers away. Add in a mysterious girl found in a crystal spaceship, amnesia, and possible time travel. Harvestella promises a story to rival any of Square Enix’s other titles.
Fans of both JRPGs and Life sims will be able to find something in Harvestella that will keep them coming back. Whether it’s farming, the story, or combat, the mixture of the three is so well blended that players will have difficulty putting down their Switch. I was already excited about Harvestella, and playing this demo, despite the issues, has me even more excited for the full release on November 4, 2022.
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