Story of Seasons has come a long way and deserves its spot atop farming sim history. Previous entries historically released under the "Harvest Moon" title, but the more recent iterations have struggled to expand the franchise in pace with competitors like Stardew Valley. It looks like the latest release, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, might change all that as it is an ambitious game that marries classic comfort with novel intent.
If you have ever played a Story of Seasons game, then you will know how this new game's story plays out. You begin the game as a spry young adult looking to break free from the hustle and bustle of city life. In Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, you settle into your grandfather's abandoned farm that is entirely overgrown before being left to your own devices. It is up to you to decide how best to run the farm, and Story of Seasons emphasizes that freedom heavily in this game.
After all, you are asked to build your farm from the ground up as you're first requested to pitch a tent in the first few days. You discover more parts of the farm as you cultivate it, unlocking all-new mines and structures as you go. In terms of space, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town gives you one of the biggest farms out there, and you can fill it to the brim with plants, animals, and increasingly wild decorations.
Of course, there are new features in this game, and their simple structure makes for seriously deep gameplay. To start, the new Story of Seasons took a page from Stardew Valley with its crafting focus. This game is all about making goods, so you can create dozens of makers to produce everything from bricks to thread to perfume and more. In fact, there are almost too many makers for fans to juggle. The innovative addition is very much appreciated, but it could have scaled back its sheer number to free up time for other farming chores.
As for the eponymous Olive Town, the game's setting does feel a bit smaller than usual. The number of explorable areas will leave foragers bereft, but more space pops up as time goes by. The town itself is filled with color thanks to all its different shops, and there is a truly huge cast of characters to befriend. However, when it comes to suitors, Story of Seasons falls short this time around. You have a choice of five bachelors and bachelorettes to romance, but their personalities struggle to come through. Honestly, the ladies of Olive Town have more to offer than the bachelors in this latest release, so take comfort in knowing you can wed any suitor regardless of gender in this title.
Following a day-one patch, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has addressed many of the technical issues with its performance. The sheer size of my farm often caused lag, and I did once suffer from a frozen screen during online gameplay before the patch went live. Much of these issues have been addressed, but I still find my farm dragging with a shuttering framerate. The number of makers and plants on my farm causes the game to load slowly, so we're holding out hope on further patches to address the issue.
Ultimately, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is exactly what you would expect from the beloved staple. The farming sim makes some bold leaps with its crafting system, but there is nothing groundbreaking in its formula. You can expect the same charming and wholesome aesthetic from this game much like all those that came before it. And even so, this routine will keep fans of the franchise coming back for more.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is currently available on the Nintendo Switch. A retail code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a base model Nintendo Switch. You can learn more about the game here.