Title: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
It’s time to clear your schedule and get comfy because Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has finally been released in the west. This entry marks a significant 25th anniversary for the series and includes some of the most advancements in new systems and features that make it one of the best entries to date.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town’s adventure begins as they typically do; your grandfather owned a farm back in the day, he passes away, and you inherit it. This is what brings us to Olive Town. The general setup is your basic farming simulation but now with new and added improvements.
The ability to farm, fish, mine, and fall in love is present with new mini-games, and features added. How much can you add to a farming game, really? Well, a lot, if this game has anything to say about it.
The first noticeable improvement is the town layout. Placement of the town buildings is set up conveniently, so you’re not running all over town and wasting hours of your day. The most useful buildings like for your farm animals, tool, and facility upgrading along with groceries is one loading screen away on the main street.
Another improvement is having the shipping bin pickup time at the end of the day instead of a set time in the evening. This gives players a chance to maximize their money earned each day. It might not mean much for players new to the series, but for fans, it’s these little tweaks that improve gameplay and make the experience even better.
However, I can’t say the same about farm layout, but I definitely appreciate how vast the area is. There are now ways to tame random animals meandering the forest to add to your livestock versus just buying them from the Animal Shop.
While expanding your farm, you’ll notice an expansion of new dilapidated buildings you can rebuild with materials. There are also ponds that you can now pump out water to find treasure. As you upgrade your tools, farming and harvesting become easier, allowing you to complete tasks quicker. You’ll also no longer need to water your farm once you create and install sprinklers.
Sprinklers save all your watering time in the field now, simplifying the whole growing process. Along with a fodder machine that dispenses feed to your livestock, you can maximize your time in the day. Fewer tools seem to be needed to maintain your animals, like not having to whip out a brush or milking tool when you need to handle those tasks. This streamlined approach definitely adds more time to your day, adding more focus to the story, events, and other new features.
However, the one thing that seems to take most of my time is feeding the maker machines. The idea of maker machines to produce your yarn, lumber, mayonnaise, etc., isn’t new, but the number of machines on your property now become an eyesore, albeit still useful.
In the previous title, mayo and cheese machines were added to the interior of barns. It would have been better or at least space-saving if they could combine some similar maker machines like the yarn and thread ones to start with or have them have the ability to create a bulk amount at once. Instead of having a vast field of vegetables and fruits, I now have a vast field of machines.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is also touting a museum where you can donate your artifacts and fish, there’s a camera mode where you can capture moments and wildlife, and you will also be able to visit other players’ island’s as an NPC. There’s more interactivity while fishing, which makes gameplay feel more hands-on.
Further, the menus are easy to follow with a convenient map and store hours, so you know when buildings are open. The music and sound effects are enjoyable, and the scenery is pleasant, with loads of additional land to explore. It’s all so extensive and feels like there are still many more areas to unlock.
My favorite decoration that can be made for the farm is the cow topiary. The animals and crops are very cutely drawn, a must in the series. Characters are also drawn handsomely, which makes choosing which character to swoon over difficult. However, I can’t seem to find bachelor Ralph when I’m walking around town, so I guess I’ll go for one of the others. This title is also inclusive, and your special someone can be of either gender.
One thing that is missing from previous games was an indoor storage chest. Usually, there is a chest along with the fridge. With so much produce and ingredients for cooking, I found myself having to walk outside to navigate multiple chests to find everything I needed. Eventually, once I get the largest house, I’ll have more fridge room, but it would have been nice to have the chest or a way to access all the inventory of fruits and veggies whilst cooking.
I should definitely mention the loading screen snapshots. According to the character Laura, there are a handful of loading screens; some snapshots during them are from other players online. Sometimes they’re photos of animals which makes sense, but other times they’re close-up shots of chests, skirts, or a random corner of a table. I hope a vetting process for these loading screens is added at some point.
For extreme farmers, you’ll notice that at 2 am its lights out, and by that, I mean you pass out from exhaustion. A bonus in this game is passing out and not having to wake up in a hospital the next day or require medicine to get better.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a simulation farmer’s dream game. It has everything the series is known for with a refined and streamlined system to make gameplay easier and more manageable. The list of materials to gather and things to do is vast, which makes the eyesore of the new item machines weigh on the experience so prominently. Regardless, this is a great entry for fans of the series and newcomers alike.
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