Harvestella: Farming Battle (PC, Switch)

As mentioned in a previous review, Square Enix is ​​ramping up production releases to the end of 2022. While December will feature DQXI’s Erik and Mia in Dragon Quest Treasures, Private Zack Fair will return with Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion. Two apps playing in Action-Adventure, our test of the day, in contrast, is a mix of Action and “Agricultural Simulation”. Harvestella, such is its name, should remind you of titles that already use this process such as the Rune Factory license or Harvest Moon.

The title we are facing today was not only developed by Square Enix, but benefited from co-development with Live Wire studio. The latter are, among other things, the creators of the not so great Metroidvania 2D Ender Lilies – Quietus of the Knights, and participated in ports of Shmups from the Cave studio. Coming back to Harvestella, in addition to the mixed gameplay of Harvest Moon / Rune Factory, the software offers a mysterious, intriguing and enjoyable adventure to follow.

Quietus, Appearing seasons, death: a world in great danger

In this world we represent Ein, an amnesiac character (male or female) who survives the terrible Quietus, a death-sowing phenomenon who ventures outside during his cycle. Rescued by the doctor Cres, Ein is welcomed in the village of Val d’Oiseau, a few steps from the village of Lèthe. Thanks to the kindness of the inhabitants as well as the mayor, Ein now has a roof over his head and begins to study agriculture, still without good memories of his past.

But Ein is also in charge of Aria, a young woman who suddenly appears, the latter claims to be from the future, a time traveler in short. If for Ein there was already too much mystery in the Lumicycles of the seasons, Augurs or schemes, Aria’s arrival raised more questions. Furthermore, the Lumicycles react abnormally, the Quietus intervenes at unusual times, and soon Ein is entrusted with the fate of the world. Is it possible to stop it from descending into absolute chaos?

We know that using an amnesiac character in an epic is not safe for storytelling. For Harvestella, it allows you to be like Ein, that is, throughout the “beginning part”, we can discover this world with its various mysteries and its rather interesting Lore, as well some character quests. In other words, we were surprised that the narrative axis was so well organized for a game of this genre.

Exploration, fatigue and rpg base

To repeat itself for the last time, the software offers a gameplay reminiscent of Rune Factory, that is, we have the same mix between the work of crops / management of a farm, Action with real-time conflicts, heavy hours and stamina management. But also an RPG facet with Leveling, some equipment and a class system. Let’s see all this in detail.

First of all, the exploration of villages, towns, dungeons, plains and lands is delivered from a World Map. As soon as you go to a place, you find yourself in the relevant plot, in other words several interconnected places. We’ve discovered all the classic and functional RPG genres with chests, monsters visible on the ground, a full range of crafting/repair materials, and essential resources for the farm. Also, some sections and shortcuts are blocked at first. Like a software from the Atelier series, you need to have the right tools (explosives, repair kit, etc.) to make your job easier, or even revisit the area.

And when we talk about work, we mainly think of two main factors: the time passing (clock) and endurance, both forces and obstacles. Thus, all actions established and carried out by our protagonist, whether from race to multiple strikes, through research, repair and cultivation (watering, digging, etc.) are subject to these two factual details.

If you don’t take time to rest/eat to regain stamina, you will be tired and it will come home with a paid consultation from the doctor as a bonus. This consultation also takes place if one dies in a battle.

The land, the benefits of agriculture, cattle, but there are also the cogs of time

Regarding the cycle of the day (clock), the scrolling is quite fast, so you have to keep planning what you want to do next, the software is still providing the content. To be reassuring, there is no obligation of deadlines to keep, let’s say rather that you will not be able to achieve everything in a single day. For example, repairing a bridge takes an hour, making things depends on it (a return bell equals 20 minutes of time), distance also makes a clock, and it does not forget the agriculture. Moreover, the larger the plot of land, the more it needs to be cared for in order to get crops and produce, and therefore earn Grillas (game money).

This agriculture is quite simple and easy to assimilate, it can even be addictive if you love the genre. So, plots of land are plowed, seeds are sown there, then vegetables, fruits and grains are watered before waiting for them to grow over days. Obviously, the process is repeated until the harvest is done. From there, it is possible to keep the fruits of your labor for future meals, for example, or to earn a little income.

And this benefit is not something to neglect, because Grillas (also money that can be obtained by doing side quests) are just as important. We need it to strengthen armaments, to buy new types of seeds – vegetables that grow according to the seasons -, to expand the farm with enclosures for breeding, to access a kitchen to make small dishes or to grow a farm. The latter is then cleaned with a hammer, yes, a hammer, breaking stones it does not work with a rake, then plow, water and so on.

As you can understand, Harvestella requires patience and perseverance, but it was very clear that we wanted the time/clock function to allow us to do more activities in a day. If you are impatient, you are more likely to “suffer” with this idea of ​​time and find progress taking too long, both in this daily life and during the exploration of dungeons / plains.

Dynamic matches but with a missing touch

With all the details already indicated (time of repairing the bridge, discovering chests, building annexes, etc.), Harvestella also has battle stages. Unfortunately, despite all the tricks like skills, multiple strikes or changing classes on the fly (swordsman, magician, etc.) that require a Cooldown, the fights, although dynamic, are lacking a little vitality. In fact, not much is missing to bring the necessary touch: the possibility of a dodge or a parry.

It’s a shame, because we still appreciate having to change classes according to the elemental affinity of our opponents, some are more sensitive to magic and not to blade strikes, and vice versa, to use interrupt gauges during boss stages, thus allowing to generate more damage and even to rely on some support characters. But the lack of avoidance really takes off, and ruins the full potential of these matches.

Good DA and sound

Now let’s move on to the graphic and technical set of the title. If the artwork from Isamu Kamikokuryo (Final Fantasy XII) is very nice and we take advantage of different environments or beautiful panoramas/colors, we are sorry to have clipping and framerate drop. On the other hand, the wonderful sound of Go Shijina, which already works in the Tales of or God Eater saga, is really in line with the places visited and moments experienced. Finally, note that the subtitles are in French.

Tested on Switch

More accessible than its congeners of the same genre, Harvestella benefits from relatively interesting content. Fans of RPG and Simulation in Rune Factory can only follow it, especially since these gameplay mechanics are easily accessible, the story follows pleasantly, and that as a whole can quickly become addictive. . Unfortunately, however, on the side of battles, even if we see that the bases are there with good ideas, it lacks a little something to get us the perfect cocktail.

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