Harvestella in the test – A mediocre story cannot carry a farming and life simulation alone

Harvestella in the test – A mediocre story cannot carry a farming and life simulation alone

Unfortunately, Harvestella’s mediocre execution interferes with their fresh ideas and exploration of what should be an interesting world.

tested on the Nintendo Switch.

In theory, Harvestella is a refreshing concept in the farming or life simulation genre: Square Enix is ​​trying to create an interesting world in which the story should be in the foreground. Although there are many options to create your own farm and explore dungeons, there is a day and night cycle and also different seasons, the game has a clearly defined goal and a predetermined end through the story. Another special feature is the Silentium. This is a break between the change of seasons, which ensures that nothing can grow on your farm and that there are no other residents in the cities either. The game is enriched by a sophisticated JRPG system with some of the job classes known from the Final Fantasy series and a lot of mystical animals and peoples who, for example, inhabit dungeons. There are also beautiful drawings by Isamu Kamikokuryothe game designer behind Final Fantasy X, XII, XV or most recently Diofield Chronicle.

Harvestella hides some magical and funny creatures. This unusual unicorn has even grown on me.

You can certainly read it out there: the thick one but. Sorry to the Live Wire fans, not every track can be a surprise hit like Ender Lilies. In the video above, I explain why the Harvestella concept didn’t work out for me and why it was such a big disappointment with this title in particular. You can see and hear the poor performance on the switch, including some glitches and the missing voice output, right there. However, I would like to go into a few more details here:

First we would have that Silence, which in itself is an exciting concept. However, a day without harvest seems half as threatening if you can still fish in peace on that one day, collect the yields of your own livestock and happily sell the items you have collected. The options for the dialogue, which do not affect anything in the game, are similarly sobering. It’s like with the marriage candidates, whose phases of getting to know each other often seem very soulless and after working through. The fact that you can’t skip some dialogue scenes when repeating it doesn’t make it any better. The same applies to the compulsion to waste your res because you once again have no stamina. Well, at least in boss fights you have the option not to have to look at all sequences and somehow it’s also funny that the main character falls out of character with the sarcastic dialogue variants and the NPCs react accordingly.

On the other hand there is a world map full of varied Dungeons. Each area has its own ecology and aesthetic, whether we’re talking about an underwater world that’s a magical Square Enix version of Atlantis, or a post-apocalyptic area with modern, overgrown buildings that almost scream Nier. It’s nice that the dungeons are so different from each other and offer different res for the farm. There are also many different monsters and enemy types. Unfortunately, you quickly realize that the designs and the behavior of the AI ​​are more similar than you might initially suspect. Often the exchange of blows, in which you either press a single button in close combat or wildly switch between the magic in long-range combat, which as possible hits the weaknesses of the monsters, is quite unwieldy. Fortunately, you only have to keep an eye on three job classes at the same time and you can use the well-sown storage crystals to compare whether you really have the right jobs and team members with you.

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What looks pretty muddy here is actually a successful dungeon, because Square Enix shows at Harvestella that they can implement JRPGs well. But whether they also succeed in connection with a life simulation is another question.

I think many of the points that struck me as particularly negative in the rating are due to the performance on the Switch. A friend kindly sent me a few shots of the PC version afterwards, and here there are significantly fewer stutters, a stable frame rate, smoother edges and shorter loading times. There probably won’t be any severe (unintentional) glitch incidents on the PC version either. Nevertheless, you can see slow loading textures in both versions. It’s important for me to emphasize that it’s probably not a question of the Switch itself being pushed to the limit by performance, but of poor optimization for the console. I wouldn’t have cared about that for any indie game with a small budget, but the fact that Square Enix of all things doesn’t optimize anything here makes me suspicious. In summary, the PC version would probably be the better choice for Harvestella.

Havestella im Test – Conclusion

Square Enix’s living and farming sim doesn’t do anything exceptionally well or badly. This is a mediocre game and story with interesting ideas that can even be quite fun under the right circumstances. Do you like JRPGs and want something in between in winter, or maybe a little change from the usual life simulations, with a few cute farming elements including nice food, animal and avatar drawings and is good music enough for you instead of voice acting? Then grab it confidently. You just have to be aware that there are now quite good alternatives in the genre that have been making both exploration, implementation of an interesting world and romance options better for years.

Although both the JRPG job system and the dungeons are impressive, they don’t perform well on the switch of all things. It’s hard to justify a full price, especially given that there are other franchises that do a much more immersive combination of farming and combat. Yes, the story manages to stand out, but it won’t really blow your mind on its own. The most positive impression is therefore a cozy atmosphere of nostalgia, which will primarily keep fans of old Square Enix games particularly warm on cold winter days.

Harvestella Test – Rating: 6/10

Harvestella test – pros and cons

Pro

  • Farming simulation is well complemented with the classic Square Enix JRPG system
  • Fresh ideas for the fantasy world, including the Silentium system
  • Deeper story than usual in the genre
  • Very good soundtrack
  • Nice drawing style by Isamu Kamikokuryo

Contra

  • No voiceover
  • Too many glitches, washed out textures and rippled edges on Switch
  • No village festivals or exciting romances
  • Performance doesn’t justify the price
  • Loveless implementation of an actually exciting world

Harvestella in the test A mediocre story cannot carry - Harvestella in the test - A mediocre story cannot carry a farming and life simulation alone

Developer: Live Wire – Publisher: Square Enix – Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC – Release: 11/04/22 – Genre: Life and farming simulation – Price (RRP): €59.99

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Harvestella in the test – A mediocre story cannot carry a farming and life simulation alone

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