Natsume's Harvest Moon is back, and this time it offers a new approach to farming simulation. Instead of inheriting your grandpa's farm, a trope all fans of this genre are used to, Harvest Moon: One World invites you to travel the world, visiting several places and different biomes. And you can take your itinerant farm with you!
As you can see, it's an interesting spin to the good old formula, but is it what you're looking for? One World follows some rules the saga already established, but still, it definitely feels different... which not all players will enjoy. If you want to learn more about this, keep reading!
What to Expect
While other games are more focused on running a farm, making money, winning festivals, and continue to make money by perfecting your min-maxing skills, Harvest Moon: One World is a narrative-driven adventure where the most important thing to do is saving the Harvest Goddess. You can get married (same-sex relationships are not a thing...), you can explore mines, and there certainly are a lot of crops and animals—including the most exotic ones—for you to discover, but your ultimate goal is to find and help the 6 Harvest Sprites that accompany the Harvest Goddess. Sure, you can go about your business and play however you like, but if this is not your first Harvest Moon game—or you come from Story of Seasons—things might not be as expected. Regardless, we think it's a nice change of pace if you're willing to play One World without comparing it to other farming games... which may not be an easy task, mind you.
Harvest Moon: One World is far from being the most visually stunning game out there, and some may say it looks like a mobile game. However, it does feature some striking character designs for several bachelors and bachelorettes... although we can't say the same for the protagonists, who look rather generic. The biggest problem of Harvest Moon: One World, sadly, is that despite it not being an extremely demanding game, we did experience several performance issues in our run: invisible characters, black patches while the map was still loading when running around or riding our horse, and even some crashes during cutscenes or dialogues. As for the map itself, we do like the different biomes and grew fond of all towns, but we can't ignore how empty some regions feel. All in all, it's an overly simplistic game that never tries to look like a next-gen game, and we have to deal with it as most farming games make the same graphical choices.
Just like the graphics are nothing to write home about, One World's soundtrack is more of the same, with generic tunes that you will forget about as soon as closing the game. Of course, it doesn't include voice acting or cool animal sound effects worth mentioning—but you probably know that from previous games, right?
To be honest with you, Harvest Moon: One World never tries to be different or make you feel like you're playing a next-gen game. If you tell someone this is a game from 2005 and they know nothing about the Harvest Moon franchise, they will believe you... which is very sad because if the game looks boring, at least the music could have been more inviting.
So, we said the graphics are bland and the soundtrack is not even worth mentioning, but why did we dedicate over 50 hours to this game—other than to write this review? Well, Harvest Moon: One World could be considered a guilty pleasure, a game you love to hate but that is charming enough to keep you saying 'one more day' and pushing through the story.
You start as a little kid who lives with their mother, both tired of always eating potatoes. That's what motivates you to start a journey to discover new crops and new places, but hey, that's not your only reason for leaving home. One day, the protagonist discovers Vitae, a Harvest Sprite that only they can see, and she asks for help to find her fellow sprites and revive the Harvest Goddess!
Yeah, forget about inheriting a farm and getting to know your new neighbors; One World is a game where you can move your farm from town to town, exploring new biomes and making new friends along the way!
Your childhood friend, Doc Jr., created a device called Sparky that once powered, can move your whole house and barn to a different place. On the one hand, this is great because you can move to other biomes and benefit from different temperatures and regional crops/animals, or simply live closer to your favorite characters. On the other, you can move your house and barn but not your crops, so it's not like you can move every few days unless you have no problem running back and forth just to take care of your crops.
In other games, you get a huge farm where you can plant as many crops as you want as long as you have enough energy to till the soil and do some watering. In Harvest Moon: One World, every available spot comes with a set number of tillable squares, so not all places are equally exploitable. Another difference with other farming games is that here, you can't buy hundreds of seeds and plant them all at once... only with some selected seeds, which are not that profitable anyway. If you want seeds, you must walk around the map and find hidden sprites that will grant you a seed. All spawning spots are fixed, so they will always appear at the same place around the same hour, unless there's some event or quest going on that prevents it.
For this reason, min-maxing is not really a thing until the late game, where you can finally fast-travel and plan your daily routine. In the beginning, you just plant whatever you come across. You don't even need to care that much about the seasons, because fertilizer is abundant and it helps all crops to grow off season. The only thing you need to take into account are mutations, which depend on the biome and season but are not 100% guaranteed.
Just like min-maxing is not a thing, all farming actions are simplified so you can till, plant, water, and fertilize by pressing the same button, without swapping tools. It's so simple that you don't even have to buy tools to milk your cows or shear your sheep, for example, as you get everything from the beginning. Speaking of simplicity and related to the animals, everything they produce comes at a single rarity, so don't expect small, medium, or large milk; you just get... milk.
Other than common farm animals, One World also features over a dozen exotic animals you can tame! Bears and big felines go to your barn, while small animals like a fox, jackal, hare, and more can replace your typical dog/cat at home. The negative note is that these animals don't produce special resources, and your house pets never leave the house. If you're interested in something even more useful, you could also buy a horse to mount or go for a dromedary camel or reindeer if you fancy something more unique.
As you can see, Harvest Moon: One World is not your typical farming game, but it does offer several things to keep you entertained!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We missed too many QoL features from other games while playing One World, but we also had fun exploring all regions and helping all these people. If you can ignore the empty roads that connect each town, all the unnamed characters, the overly simplistic game mechanics, and the occasional performance issues, Harvest Moon: One World has a nice story to tell and too many items and recipes for you to discover. It's not the best Harvest Moon game, but it's hard to say it's the worst either... it just depends on your playstyle and approach to farming.
Once you finish the story, you can take your time to enjoy the post-game and get married. Good luck amassing stupid amounts of money!
Nice chracter design.
A simple yet compelling story.
Lots of animals, fish, crops and flowers!
It's so simple its missing several cool features you can find in other farming games.
Although it doesn't seem to be a demanding game, we experienced a lot of crashes and loading issues.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Harvest Moon: One World, as simple as it is, offers 50+ hours of gameplay (around 20-25 hours for the story alone), so it shouldn't be easily dismissed. That being said, we know Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is around the corner (stay tuned for our review!) and some of you may be in doubt about which game to buy, so we hope you can find this review useful!
What do you think about this one? Let us know in the comments below!
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...