Popular farming sim game Story of Seasons (formally known as Harvest Moon) has brought one of their most beloved and well-received franchise entries out of the archives, re-rendered in glorious 3D for PlayStation, Xbox and PC. Marvellous Games’ Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town takes the player to the small country village of Mineral Town after discovering that they’ve inherited a dilapidated old farm. Your goal is simple – connect with the villagers and make the farm profitable again.
Combining elements of the original Friends of Mineral Town and the spin-off More Friends of Mineral Town, this console update allows you to choose your gender at the start of the game, offering the ability to change your skin tone and choose an outfit. One thing to note is that regardless of the outfit you choose, the other option does seem to become available through an auto-download of extra content and you have the ability to change your outfit colour or style at any point in the game.
Similar to the original Friends of Mineral Town, this updated version starts you out with a handful of tools for tending to the farm – a hoe, an axe, a hammer, and a watering can, all essential items for clearing the large field on the farm so you can begin planting and tending to your crops. You’re also given a pedometer to count your steps! Eventually you’re given a foal to care for by a villager and with enough money earned from selling crops or items you’ve foraged, you can also buy a variety of livestock including chickens, cows, sheep, and rabbits, all of which produce by-products that can be used for income. As you work with your tools, your stamina gradually decreases, much like in real life, and this can be replenished through food, a dip in a hot spring, or sleep. You get 2 warnings that your stamina is getting low, giving you ample time to recuperate before you end up at the clinic.
The other key component of Friends of Mineral Town, as the name suggests, is to make friends with the residents of Mineral Town. Making regular trips into town to talk and interact with the residents of the village, as well as your livestock, is core to the game. As you build relationships with your livestock, the by-product they produce increases in size and quality. Likewise with the villagers, as regular relationship building enables you to learn recipes, personal histories, and even get married; all elements that add to your gameplay. There are also the local nature sprites that will assist with your crops and livestock as your relationship with them improves.
One of the most charming aspects of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is the seasonal element. From an aesthetic standpoint, the weather changes as regularly as it does in the real world, with sunny days occasionally followed by rain. Seasons change on a regular cycle and with each season comes unique events and festivals that you can participate in with the rest of the villagers. The changing seasons also force you to be thoughtful and strategic with your farming; some crops grow better in the spring and summer months than others so, for example, you’ll see a shortfall in income if you try planting turnips in the winter. The transitions from day to night are also beautifully rendered, showing an accurate change from daylight to sunset, to night. All these elements and the finer details of the world locations look all the more incredible when displayed on the TV.
From a technical standpoint, this remastered version of Story of Seasons offers incredibly smooth gameplay. While the available tutorials gloss over some of the more specific controls, like choosing a consumable to eat or how to put chicken feed into the feeding bins, the basic controls are simple and with enough fiddling, the rest is easy to figure out. The game map is confined, which is to be expected due to the nature of the game. As a player, you are able to explore the local shops, a section of forest, the beachfront, and a mining cave. The map, unfortunately, does not appear on-screen during gameplay, so the layout and location of essential shops and spaces really need to be memorised or you’ll be opening your map screen every few seconds. There are 2 main map views, one that shows the whole layout of Mineral Town including key indicator icons for you and your livestock, and one that shows a detailed bird’s-eye view of the farm, which can be accessed by pressing the touch pad.
With all of the above considered, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a solid game. For longtime players of the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons games, the PlayStation, Xbox and PC version of Friends of Mineral Town, released on new platforms as part of the 25th anniversary of the gaming franchise, will be a refreshing return to a fan favourite story, while beginner players will find this game to be a fun entry into the franchise. It’s a simple and repetitive game, making it a great choice for kids and grown-ups who are just looking for a relaxing afternoon.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
A PlayStation 4 copy of the game was provided for review purposes.