Harvestella: Good Try, Square Enix

When I learnt that Square Enix was releasing a “life-simulation game”, I immediately paid attention.

Captivating story, high art standard, distinct protagonist, now paired with farming? What more can a farming game addict ask for? 

I kept up with the release trailers, news and all that. And finally when the pre-order on Nintendo Switch was released, I jumped on it immediately too!

My verdict after playing: while Harvestella offered a cozy farm management escape, I think Square Enix should stick to action RPGs 🫠

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the storyline, but:

❌ Don’t go comparing Harvestella with Rune Factory

Harvestella has all the components of a great farming game; seasonality, farming, cooking, gathering, fishing, animal husbandry, NPCs whom you can bond with, and a rather interesting story. 

However, the days are too short (even after the update), there’s limited character customisation and no living space customisation at all. 

If you’re thinking of getting Harvestella, you should go in with the right expectations; Harvestella is a RPG with farming elements. It isn’t a “life-simulation game”.

And don’t go into the game expecting a Square Enix version of Rune Factory.

What I liked about Harvestella 💓

🔎 Harvestella Explored Interesting Themes

Artificial Intelligence, the meaning of being human and time travel are some of the deeper themes that Harvestella explored. 

The plot was generally captivating and I’ve got to give credit to the developers for the beautiful scenes, towns and exploration areas which were very well designed to suit the themes. 

⌚ Scaled down farming elements

After a certain point, you no longer need to water your plants manually. You may never need to tilt your soil too (if you time your farming cycles right). 

Also, you will never have to worry about your fishing rod breaking.

If the elements above are things that you find a hassle to deal with in most farming sim games, then you’ll enjoy Harvestella’s delivery in this aspect.

What I disliked about Harvestella

🏃‍♂️ Harvestella’s Story Felt Rushed

While the plot was generally captivating, I felt that the game tried to touch on many deep topics.

This resulted in lengthy conversations and a tad too much reading in a single seating. The ending wasn’t impressive either and left quite a bit of mystery unresolved. 

Now, I’m not saying the plot is bad. 

It just felt rushed and incomplete. If the same story was reworked and rebooted as a full fledged AAA action RPG by Square Enix, I would play it.

⏳Days are too rushed

Make no mistakes: Harvestella is no cozy or chill game.

The days are short, there’s much to be done and the need to sleep gets in the way. Then again, that’s the most “life-sim”-ish feature I guess (no one seems to have enough time irl after all).

Though it does get irritating when you’re trying to clear the Karenoid dungeons, or trying to catch that Rare fish (you can’t fish after 12am 🥲).

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦Character “Bonds”?

Each NPC has their own side story and clearing each story helps you to get closer to them. 

Although each side story does help you to learn about each character’s background, it felt as though the developer merely spun off side quests and re-packaged them as the “social sim elements” that frequently make farming games attractive.

There wasn’t much depth in the storylines for most characters, it seems that the purpose was merely to check off an item on the “farming game must-have” checklist. 

As you progress in the game, you’ll evidently unlock all the NPC side stories and max out the closeness. 

Even if you’re not interested in an NPC, you’ll still need to complete their side stories if you wish to unlock their job class.

💍“Romance” was an afterthought?

Romance or Partnership involves gifting a ring to a select NPC in the game. Thereafter, they will move in with you and you’ll unlock additional voiceovers when you leave your house. 

Honestly, this part felt a little redundant to me.

Maybe do it for the cut scenes?

🎣Fishing was boring

I got hooked on fishing during the pandemic, and have a soft spot for in-game fishing.  

In Harvestella, fishing was quite realistic – all you need to do is to throw your bait and wait. 

But given that the days are fairly short in the game, fishing wastes too much time and most of it is spent just staring at the screen.

Imagine spending hours staring at this just to complete the Fish list:

It gets boring overtime and there were many instances where I fell asleep while fishing. The rumble function on the Nintendo Switch Oled helps to alert you while fishing, so I guess that comes in handy.

How long does it take to complete Harvestella? 

It took me about 75 hours to complete the main story (including all character side stories).

I’m currently more than 120 hours in and have finally found my last repair kit site and completed the Conellu Dolls collection. All that’s left to do is to grind the Karenoid for resources and farm for Grilla to completely upgrade all the NPC’s weapons. 😔

Expect to be grinding if you wish to 100% the game.

That said, I would encourage you to go for 100% on Harvestella as there are little surprises to be unlocked (hint: samurai job class).

You can also check HowLongToBeat.com for the average times to complete the game.


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