We've had hands on access to Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town for about a week now and while we can't say anymore than what's in the first year, we have some early impressions we'd like to share.

After reviewing Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town last year, I've had a hankering for more farming simulators. Friends of Mineral Town was a remake of the Game Boy Advance title and whilst it did make some general improvements, it still had the foundations of a 17 year old game. However, Pioneers of Olive Town is brand new and as such, it brings some modern improvements.

First off, the lay of the land is much more dynamic. Your character can move with much more freedom, not being restricted to eight direction inputs. Secondly, your farm, as well as the town, have a lot more depth to them by not having to stay true to a square grid; although, the farming is still grid-based, but that is probably a good thing.

The plot of Pioneers of Olive Town begins like many others: you inherit your grandfather's farm and perhaps out of sheer obligation, you pack up your entire life and settle down from scratch. This game's primary objective is to attract more tourists and you do this by strategising with the mayor. When you think about it, the concept of making the town busier sort of goes against the quiet country motif that these games are known for but hey, having an overarching objective certainly does give you something to work towards.

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Being a pioneer, so to speak, you can clear the land of an overabundance of trees, rocks and even puddles/lakes. Your materials that you gather can then be used in a much more extensive crafting system akin to that of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It's a welcomed additon, but it leads me to a glaring negative.

I (and maybe this is just me) cannot stand clunky item management in simulation games (or most games, for that matter). You begin with 16 empty slots and like all other Story of Seasons games, you can upgrade your bag for more. However with the newly expanded crafting system in this entry, it simply makes the concept feel like even more of a burden. The developers at Marvelous did try to ease the pressure a little by creating a separate Tool Bag but in order to use the tools, you have to take them out of the Tool Bag to put them into your inventory, which can create a lot of unnecessary shuffling. Why not just let you have two separate bags? That just seems obvious to me.

However with all that aside, Pioneers of Olive Town bursts with charm and its hook of exploring more of the unknown land will provide a sense of accomplishment that'll keep you coming back for more. Another dynamic addition is the camera where you can take first-person snapshots of animals and environements. This is an ingenious feature when you're clearing the land as you'll come across many critters and secrets throughout your adventure.

Lastly, the graphics are much more (to use the same term once more) dynamic. Cutscenes have more thought put into them and it helps to provide the town with more depth. The soundtrack is as bubbly as ever but it's also just as repetitive. You get a new soundtrack every season and while they may come as reliefs when the first day of the season rolls around, you'll soon get pretty sick of them too.

So far, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is impressive in what it brings to the genre and I'm excited to further delve into the wilderness. However, it keeps similar pitfalls that were present in the early entries from decades ago. If you'd like to learn more about Pioneers of Olive Town, be sure to check back in with us by following us on Twitter @switchaboonews.

Thank you for checking out our Story of Seasons: pioneers of Olive Town preview, thank you Marvelous for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: