Harvestella on Switch
When it comes to 2022, there were a few games that I found myself incredibly excited for. I’m talking about the sort of excitement that has you counting down the months, days, and hours until a game’s release. One of these titles that sparked such a sense of want inside of me was Harvestella.
Announced by Square Enix over the summer, it was a huge title for those interested in farming and JRPG elements. Fans from all ends of the cozy gaming sphere found it to be an experience that was worth the anticipation. From Stardew Valley players to Rune Factory stans, Harvestella was going to be the game to scratch every itch that other similar games have missed. Now that it is out, I got a chance to play it and it’s time to find out whether it’s lived up to the hype.
The first thing you are prompted to do in Harvestella is create your character. When I jumped into the game’s character customization, I found myself slightly disappointed. There were not too many options to choose from, but there were definitely more than the usual Rune Factory male or female choices. The game is inclusive of non-binary players, but the character creation lacks in pretty much every other way. It feels more like Pokemon in the sense that you can choose from a few different hair colors and eye colors. That’s the end of it. Gender, body build (no sliders), hair, eyes, name. Done.
While I am happy that I got to choose a little bit more than just my gender, I wish they had taken more elements from other farming games (e.g. clothing options). This is one of those portions of Harvestella that feels more JRPG-like. You can change up your character a little bit, but they have their set place within the story and you cannot alter them too much.
After creating my character, I was immediately struck by how beautiful the world itself was. From the beginning cutscene to each one after that, the game never ceased to be immersive or vibrant. It was everything I had wanted from a game that acted as both a farming simulator and a story to play through. The beginning of the story itself was fairly familiar to its genre. You are a character with amnesia and something dark seems to be taking the world over. While it was not a story that I found especially unique, I did appreciate the way that it was written and the unique elements added to it from the Quietus to the fairies. This was the first game in which I experienced a season between seasons marked by its decay. I also thought that the ability to swap between which job I am using in combat was interesting.
This can be described as Harvestella’s class system, a strength that I found made the gameplay experience more personalized. I truly enjoyed being able to switch between jobs so that I could use abilities that I either preferred or found more useful in certain situations. You start off as a Fighter and unlock other jobs over time, ranging from familiar classes such as Mage to more unique ones like Assault Savant. I loved being able to play around with melee, magical, and ranged abilities.
The less familiar jobs like Assault Savant, Woglinde, and Pilgrim were very intriguing. I really enjoyed the way that the game blended certain elements to introduce these new classes. For instance, Assault Savant offers players a job in which they combine both martial arts and science. Attack attributes and their effects are swapped around. Woglinde is comparable to a bard class of sorts as it uses music to support the rest of the party in battle. Pilgrim is a priest-like class where you make use of physical and magical attacks via a magic sword.
The way you unlock most jobs is by increasing your relationship with other characters. While that may seem like a difficult task at first, it happens pretty naturally as you play and also gives you incentive to play through certain quests. I found every class to be pretty reasonable both in terms of unlocking it and how well it played. There is a job for every gamer’s play style.
Another cool thing about the combat in Harvestella is how you can prepare for it. You can either cook food at your home and eat it there before heading out, or you can find resting areas throughout dungeons to share prepared meals with party members. These meals give you different buffs and help you ready yourself before tougher battles. I would definitely recommend making use of this mechanic! It also gives you more incentive to take care of your farm as you can actually use your crops for your own benefits. In this sense, the farming and JRPG aspects of Harvestella blended pretty well. You do one thing to lead to profit in the other.
The most important thing to note about my experience with Harvestella is its genre. While I (and likely many others) went into the game expecting to farm and tend my land as much as I do in Rune Factory, there was no real balance to be found with the JRPG elements. They heavily outweighed the any farming aspect, but this is not necessarily bad. I do wish that the game advertised itself less as some sort of farming simulator, though, because it is a JRPG through and through.
While I wanted to experience more immersive farming, I did find the farming that was available therapeutic enough. The crops all have really cute names that are plays on real words (e.g. a cucumber is now a “cucumble”) and the watering is something I have never seen before! You make use of a pretty cool-looking handheld sprinkler rather than the normal watering can you can find in most games.
Players can also build machines to process crops into other products. For instance, you can make flour out of wheat or juice out of vegetables. These sell for more money in-game and also serve as good cooking ingredients or even meals on their own. Animals and mounts work similarly to those in Rune Factory, and I personally have no qualms with that!
The map itself in Harvestella is something to marvel at. Rather than watching a loading screen after selecting an area to travel to, you move around with your character from town to dungeon on an adorable map with realistic features from the different parts of the world. I found this pretty unique and also much more immersive than other forms of getting around in games. It definitely wasn’t open-world traveling or anything, but it was well-integrated and fun to go through.
Every area has its own charm, from the different towns’ seasons to the dungeons themselves. Lush forests and cascading waterfalls… these elements really helped keep me hooked on the game. I loved discovering new areas. With each new area, there could also be new characters and items to discover.
While some players find collectables annoying, I was super happy to see that Harvestella has added this classic JRPG element to its areas. You have to collect little dolls known as “Conellu Dolls” and you can bring them to NPCs to use as a kind of currency. This reminded me of collectables in the Tales series. I feel that collectables do add a sense of accomplishment to players from any background. Farming fans may liken them to in-game museum donations while RPG fans could see them as a special type of money.
I find the combination of light farming, questing, job-switching, and collecting pretty satisfying in Harvestella. There are expected features such as crafting and less-expected ones like Quietus, but I didn’t mind the unique parts of the game. I only really found myself disappointed in the customization that Harvestella had to offer as well as the fact that it seemed to imply a more immersive farming experience than it ended up actually providing.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Harvestella to fans of games such as Rune Factory or JRPGs like those in the Tales series. I would not necessarily recommend it to any fan of farming games, however. Definitely pick this game up if you are ready to focus primarily on questing and not farming. If you are used to more laid-back experiences like Stardew Valley or Story of Seasons, this game could serve as a nice introduction to JRPG elements.
Reviewer: Anna Koselke | Award: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.
- Vibrant scenery.
- Engaging dialogue.
- Variety of classes.
- Unique map.
- Lack of customization (character, housing, etc.).
- Disappointing lack of farming.
November 4, 2022
Nintendo Switch, PC