Harvest Moon: One World is the latest entry in the long-standing farming based series. Diverging from the “Inherited Farm” storyline, you must set out to find new vegetables for your home village in which only potatoes grow. As the global pandemic stretches into its second year, does this low intensity experience have the potential to have the same impact that Animal Crossing New Horizon did last March? Sadly, probably not.

Gameplay

Harvest Moon: One World plays a lot like a series of side quests and grinding. The bulk of the game consists of trading food and supplies to random NPCs for more food and supplies. That being said, the agriculture mechanics are fun and addictive. Cultivating your crops and tending to your animals is rewarding and kept me playing for hours on end just for the sake of grinding out new materials and selling my crops.

The mobile farm is a really convenient addition to the Harvest Moon formula: instead of having to return to the beginning location each time you need to collect eggs or tend crops, each town has a plot of land for you to move your farm onto at will. The addition of a mobile farm cuts out what could have been an annoying amount of backtracking, but that doesn't make the endless fetch questing less repetitive.

The controls also lack intuitive design: interacting with your animals can be frustrating as the A button controls all the possible actions, but which action it performs depends on how you face the animal. For example, when I was trying to learn to shear sheep, I spent half of my time petting the sheep instead because the critter kept moving around. With so many buttons (or even button combinations) left unused, it feels lazy to have the controls set up this way.

There is also a combined hunger/stamina mechanic that dictates how much you can do within a given day. This, like every hunger mechanic I've ever encountered, feels like an unnecessary hindrance in a game that has a day/season structure. This one is actually worse than most hunger mechanics because it depletes so quickly. It feels like a greedy developer’s mobile game would convince people to spend money on extra lives.

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Lastly, there's the lackluster primary objective of waking the sleeping Harvest Sprites… by helping townspeople with fetch quests. The primary objective of this game feels so hollow: I completed one of them within five minutes of entering a new area by chopping down three palm trees. This could have been a great opportunity to break away from the bland formula and do something different – real missed opportunity, if you ask me.

World Design

The world of Harvest Moon: One World is small but diverse. With the inclusion of different biomes, each with their own unique plants and environmental conditions that affect gameplay, this inclusion serves to make the small map feel much bigger and break up some of the repetition. Each environment is complete with NPCs that dress and speak differently; different plants, animals and weather, it all feels like a big step forward for the series and is hopefully the new standard. The weather feature also affects how quickly your stamina drains and adds a layer of realism to this chibi-farming simulator. Finding all the new plants felt like filling up a Pokédex and kept me engaged throughout my entire playthrough.

Story / Personality

The story feels very childish, which isn't a bad thing on its own since this is a very kid-friendly game, but the best way to describe it is like the first season of the Pokémon cartoon. The formula goes like this: meet someone, help them with their random problem (usually involving vegetables), move on. Between this and the bland dialogue, the story suffers from the same blight as the rest of the game: repetition to the point of being forgettable. Sadly, the NPCs are about as stimulating as watching your virtual grass grow: there wasn’t enough substance in any conversation to make me want to talk to anyone. Luckily if you just want to be a hermit and grow vegetables you can now sell your items by placing them in a dropbox, which is either a cruel reference to the hellscape 2020 was, a convenient way to sell vegetables or both.

Graphics / Art Direction

The aesthetics are cute and vibrant; character models are warm and pleasant and there weren't any notable performance issues. The perspective is more like the early Harvest Moon games with a fresh coat of polygons, which will definitely strike a chord with longtime fans of the series - despite it not “really” being Harvest Moon. Overall, the graphics are the one aspect of the game I don't have any complaints about – classic Harvest Moon in the modern era.

Final Score: 60%

If you liked Animal Crossing: New Horizons but want something more linear, you would probably find something to like about Harvest Moon: One World. However, the more you play it, the more flaws stand out and frustrate. This was my first time playing a Harvest Moon game and I can say that it is a good way to introduce someone to the series because of how simple and addictive it can be. I'm definitely going to raid my wife's game collection for more Harvest Moon since she's a huge fan of the series. Maybe that's the redeeming factor of this game: it has the power to pull in new players and show them the value of a laid back series like this one, even hardcore action/adventure gamers like myself.

Thank you for checking out our Harvest Moon: One World Switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: