Square Enix - Tested on the Nintendo Switch in 2022, 2023 and 2024
As you may notice in our news entries in 2022, we quite eagerly awaited Harvestella. And as soon as it was up for preorder, I preordered the game and played it immediately on launch day. And now, almost a year and a half later, this review appears. What took me so long? And what's all about Harvestella at all?
In this game, players control a character that can be created individually. This character ("hero") appeared in a world plagued with a strange phenomenon that occurs after each season (winter, spring, summer, autumn). The world of Harvestella was inhabited by humans and animals that are similar to the real world - and the population lived mostly in four cities: Argen, Nemea, Lethe and Shatolla. A threat to the people were not only the recurring "Quietus" events, but also strange Robots that seem to not care about the lives of the people a lot - the "Omen".
Within this world, the hero appeared, with no recollection or memory at all. Lethe's doctor, Cress, then assumed that it would be best if hero had a place to be and had some job to do in order to regain health and eventually their memories. And just as the life for hero as a recluse in a farm started, something crashed from the sky near the town of Lethe which turned out to be a vessel of sorts. In that vessel, a girl named Aria was found, wo seemingly also had no memories of how they appeared here, or at least she wouldn't tell. The villagers decided she would join hero on the farm, but Aria had on her mind that she wanted to be back from where she came.
And so, with Aria and hero, a story unfolds where the Quietus came from, and how Aria could get home and - being a japanese RPG - how the world could be in danger.
As the name implies, hero lives on a farm and should do some duties there. In the course of the game, players can set up a field, grow crops, set up stables for animals and produce meals or even create gadgets or expand the farm on their own. However, farm work is not absolutely mandatory. However, with produce earned from the farm, players can prepare meals that heal hit points or create positive status effects.
Also, beating monsters in the action RPG part does not reward any money, so in order to buy new stuff or enhance weapons at the blacksmith, players need to farm a bit and sell their crops.
The action battles are done in a party of up to three characters. The hero is always controlled by the player, and two additonal characters can participate. Additional characters will be met during the story, and their stat bonus that they bring to battle are determined by certain quests players undertake with them.
The battle system itself is very reminiscent of an action driven combat system seen in Final Fantasy XIV, going so far as to show similar area-of-effect markers on the ground before an enemy strike hits. The hero can fight with the weapons from their friends, and can level up certain skills by continously using said weapon.
Other than the main story, farming and side stories for friends, players can also engage in various quests in the villages, which earn materials and money. So if players are not keen on doing any farmwork, they can also do some quests.
As the hero was weakened during their appearance in a Quietus, they need to rest often. Which means, that every day at midnight, the hero needs to be at home in their farm and get to sleep, or else they will faint and sleep up late the next day. This is valid even for most of the rather complex and puzzle-ridden dungeons. For this, fast travel methods have been implemented, with every save point allowing the hero to teleport home immediately after it has been unlocked.
The game has been developed by Live Wire, and neither of the cast members has done much more than other Live Wire games - except the composer, Go Shiina, who participated in some other games, most notably some "Tales of" and "Tekken" games. The soundtrack of Harvestella is often very melancholic and performed by few instruments.
There is some voice acting in the game, but not much. The protagonist is semi-silent, with the player usually able to select between two or three answers which usually don't change much in the story.