“A New King of RPG Farming Sims Has Arrived”
- System: Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Live Wire
- Release Date: November 4, 2022
- Rating: T
- Genre: RPG, Farming Sim
- Players: 1
- Official Website:
Forget slaying dragons or saving the princess—the real fantasy dream these days is owning a home with a large enough yard for a vegetable garden. It’s no surprise, then, that we have so many farming simulator games, from established series like Rune Factory and Story of Seasons to successful newcomers like Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin and Stardew Valley.
Into this contested market comes HARVESTELLA, the new RPG/Farming Simulator developed by Live Wire and published by Square Enix. A demo has arrived on Nintendo Switch following the September 13th Nintendo Direct, giving us an early look at the gameplay we can expect later this year.
Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we discuss our first impressions of the HARVESTELLA Demo!
Square Enix is undoubtedly late to the farming sim game, but HARVESTELLA confidently asserts itself within the first hour of the demo. You’d think everything had been done before in this genre—and you’d be right. But HARVESTELLA does everything its competitors do and somehow does it better.
The game’s opening hours gently introduce you to your amnesiac main character, your farm plot, and your general combat abilities. The overarching story is surprisingly engaging, focusing on a mysterious fifth season called ‘Quietus,’ where crops wither and an oppressive fog settles over the world. Intertwined with the mystery of the Quietus is Aria, a girl who arrives from a future timeline; gigantic crystals called ‘Seaslight’ that dominate the world; and a shady Church that seeks to control information about the crystals and the outsiders known as the “Omens.”
The heavier emphasis on story and characters is incredibly welcome and serves to propel the player through the first few days of their journey.
Despite not carrying the Final Fantasy brand, HARVESTELLA takes inspiration from other Square Enix titles for its combat system. Battles happen in real-time, using a mixture of standard attacks and special abilities that can target enemy weaknesses such as fire or slash damage. As you slay foes, you’ll gain Job Points (JP), which can then be used to earn new skills and abilities for your job class.
As the game progresses, you’ll gain access to other job classes, such as the demo’s Mage class. You can even switch classes mid-fight, allowing you to adapt to changing battle conditions—something that’ll come in handy against the difficult “FEAR” enemies that act as the game’s mini-bosses.
You’ll be joined by two other companions in battle, although in the demo, we weren’t able to give the allies orders—hopefully, we’ll see that feature added before the game’s release in November.
Overall this is probably the most polished combat system we’ve seen in this genre, and is genuinely enjoyable, rather than a necessary chore to perform while waiting for your carrots to grow.
Speaking of farming mechanics, HARVESTELLA closely mimics its competitors here. If you’ve played Rune Factory you’ll be right at home with the rhythm of tilling soil, planting seeds, and placing harvested produce in a “Shipping Box” to make the cash roll in.
Aside from working the land, you can also fish, gather, or craft. Finding recipes and materials will unlock new tools to craft, and you can also use the kitchen to make food. You’ll want to keep your stomach full because both combat and farming use up precious stamina points.
Having something in your character’s stomach will slowly restore stamina, and give you a boost to your health too. In combat, this is vitally important, since running out of stamina or health will see you instantly transported back to the town’s doctor.
Stamina isn’t the only thing you’ll need to keep an eye on. Time itself is a precious commodity. You can’t force your character to stay awake too late, so deciding what to work on throughout the day is important. Actions like crafting will absorb entire hours at a time, while adventuring will slowly see the minutes tick away. Each day you’ll need to decide how to divvy up your time between tending your crops or adventuring further into a new area.
HARVESTELLA has something else on its competitors—graphics. After Rune Factory 5’s disastrously bad performance on both Switch and PC, we were hesitant to see another 3D RPG/farming sim hit the Switch.
Live Wire has successfully produced a gorgeous game that runs extremely well on Nintendo Switch, both docked and handheld. Textures are noticeably blurrier in handheld mode, but it’s a tradeoff for smooth performance even during combat. We didn’t notice any slowdowns while running around, farming, or battling.
The background music is beautiful, with an operatic style that perfectly matches the visuals. Characters have a distinctive charm to them, and in a big step forward for RPG players, your main character can be male, female, or non-binary, with options for masculine or feminine features no matter which option you choose.