- Developer: Marvelous Inc
- Publisher: Marvelous Inc (XSEED)
- Release Date: 26/03/2021 (UK) | 23/03/2021 (US)
- Price: £44.99 / $49.99
- Review code provided by Marvelous
Introducing: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Switch Review
I was never a huge fan of the simpler farming sims in the past – I always found them boring and empty. However, lockdown has given me a new perspective, and I’ve since developed an appreciation for that simplicity. Have my thoughts changed since sending those preview postcards three weeks ago? Well, read on to find out!
The Diary of a Pioneer
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has a very simple premise; dear old Gramps has passed away and, having spent a lot of time on his farm as a child, the protagonist moves to Olive Town to take up the family farm. And, well, off you go!
There are a number of intertwining stories and relationships to be found in Olive Town, from the concentrated efforts to revamp the town to the mysterious spirit that sometimes appears. Life as a pioneer goes as you want it to – there’s no penalty for taking your time, or even getting distracted completely. With the exception of story quests, the quests change daily and life simply putters by at whatever speed you decide to tackle it.
There’s a whole host of interesting and unique characters in Olive Town, with even more on the way in the DLC. I love the variety in both personality and design of the townsfolk. From Southerner Sally to the enigmatic Lori, each character brings a feeling of life and individuality to the sleepy little town.
Like many life sims, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town has an utterly addictive gameplay loop. I can’t get enough of the cheerful meandering that constitutes farm life. From growing crops and gathering resources, to steadily improving relationships and finally racking up enough money to upgrade X, Y, or Z, everything feels like some form of achievement.
Progression is nicely managed, as new areas of farmland can be unlocked by collecting enough of certain resources. These new areas contain new types of wood, grass, metals, and even animals, all of which can be used in some way or another. Upgrading the town will steadily add new developments, too – my favourite was easily the boutique!
The controls feel nice in both docked (whoo Pro controller!) and handheld mode, and there was something glorious about being able to move between the big TV and being snuggled up on the sofa, taking my absorbing little adventure with me. I spent a particularly glorious week’s worth of evenings curled up with my puppy and Story of Seasons, but my hands never got tired of the easy controls.
Comforting as a Fluffy Alpaca
The graphical design of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a brilliant match for it’s laid-back nature. Both scenery and characters are vibrant, with soft edges and a cheerful style that made it easy to sink into. The views are beautiful too; they may be video game vistas, but damn if I wasn’t still jealous. Everything has this simple but relaxing vibe that made the game even more addictive, and it was nice to see that gatherable items didn’t stand out too much from the environment.
You know when you get a tune stuck in your head, and find yourself repeating it at the most unexpected of times? Yes, I was humming the menu theme of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town during a Zoom meeting (thankfully my boss is a fellow gamer, and just found it funny). It’s just so chilled yet perky, and soothing yet uplifting, that I’m really hoping the soundtrack will be on Spotify for when I can’t sleep. One nice little touch was the brief sound clips for a character’s voice. It just added an extra dimension to each person, helping to flesh them out in the experience. Full voice acting would have been nice, but the game didn’t feel lacking for not having it.
Performance is one area where Pioneers of Olive Town did initially stumble. Loading times were annoyingly long, and it wasn’t unusual for graphical stutters to appear even when nothing major was happening on-screen. Thankfully, updates have already been released that reduce both of these issues. They aren’t eliminated entirely, but I’m hopeful that further improvements are incoming to smooth the experience out further.
Pioneering A Much-Needed Escape
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is definitely not for everyone. It’s a very relaxed game, with no sense of urgency to follow a story or increase anything. There’s no challenge, no penalty for taking your time, just a casual escape from reality. Along with the inclusion of Seedling Mode, I can see the little Olive Town farm being a brilliant way to teach children about resource management.
The steady pacing and fun characters make Olive Town a place that I’m happy to get lost in. When paired with the gorgeous graphics and uplifting soundtrack, the whole game comes together into a wonderful escape from the stresses of adult life. I’m still seeing some graphical stutters and sometimes long loading times, but as a whole, I highly recommend Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town for anyone who just wants that little bit of nature in their life.
- Steady pacing
- Relaxing environment
- A lovely escape
- Might be boring to some people
- Some mild performance issues