Harvestella Review: An Escapist JRPG With Farming Sim Surprises

The video game industry has no shortage of farming simulators, but even with the excess, fans eat them up. From Stardew Valley to Harvest Moon, there are juggernauts in the space while other titles like Rune Factory have worked to diversify what a simulator can do. Now, Square Enix is entering the world of farming sims with Harvestella, an ambitious JRPG loaded with life simulation goodies. And thanks to its distinctive art and pacing, Harvestella is one of the genre's most promising entries in some time.

The game works as most life simulators as players begin by creating an avatar who will live in a fanatical world ruled by giant crystals called Seaslights. As the days pass and seasons change, these crystals keep nature balanced, but that script is flipped whenever Quietus, the Season of Death, comes around. This brutal period has grown longer each year, and with no end in sight, players must venture to stop Quietus from permanently throwing their world out of sync.

(Photo: Square Enix)

Of course, this JRPG has the standard combat you'd expect. You can align yourself with one of twelve classes, and if we are being honest, Harvestella doesn't rock the boat when it comes to battle. The combat mechanics are smooth, and the ability to fight with up to two other allies is a nice touch. Even as the game progresses, I didn't find the combat to be overly difficult, so casual RPG fans will do well with the system. But if you are looking for punishing combat, Harvestella isn't the thing you are looking for.

However, the game does shine in its story and simulation elements. Players can explore the villages they enter before taking time to farm, fish, cook, and craft. These systems are explained in several painstaking tutorials, but the payoff is worth it. Between these simulation elements and its side quests, Harvestella feels incredibly fleshed out, and much of that is thanks to its art direction. As always, Square Enix's whimsical style shines in this new release which makes it one of the prettiest life simulators out there.

At its core, Harvestella is an exciting promise of things to come for RPG lovers as Square Enix is ready to bring its own farming sim to life. From its gorgeous visuals to its side quests, there is plenty to do and look at while playing. However, players should temper their expectations should they believe Harvestella to be a straightforward sim. This ambitious project is more JRPG than a simulator, and its pacing proves as much. If you are only looking to farm and woo locals, Harvestella will prove more than you can handle. But if a JRPG with simulation traits sounds appealing to you, Harvestella is just what you've been waiting for.


Rating: 3 out of 5

Harvestella is now available on the Nintendo Switch. ComicBook.com was given a copy of the game for review purposes.