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There’s been a pretty significant surge of “cozy” games in recent months. You know, we’re talking about stuff like Story of Seasons, Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and all the cling-on indie titles that ride on their dirt-covered, heavy-duty coattails. These are games where you can chill out, relax and farm the day away, perfect for a rainy day snuggled up in your bed with your Switch, Steam Deck or what have you.
On the other hand, the concept might be a little too cozy for some, and that’s why titles like Rune Factory and, well, Stardew Valley (again) exist. Square Enix has decided to step into the pseudo-cozy space as well with Harvestella, an action-RPG with cozy elements that aims to take two tastes and make them taste great together.via YouTube
There’s good news and bad news. The bad news: you’ve got amnesia! Funny how common that is these days. Your memories are gone, so you’re going to have to make some more. The good news: you ended up in Lethe, a pretty comfortable town full of nice people ready to help you get back on your feet! At least you won’t starve…except there’s more bad news. Every so often, the mysterious Quietus event occurs, filling the land with toxic dust that keeps people indoors and withers crops. You’re going to have to prepare in advance, both from a farming and adventure perspective, if you want to find out what’s going on and try to make a difference.
Despite the name, Harvestella leans a little harder on its action-RPG side than something like Rune Factory. You’ll spend the lion’s share of your time exploring various forests, caves and ruins, battling monsters as you go. As you’d expect, combat earns you experience points for leveling, job points for learning new abilities and delicious loot for crafting, cooking and more. Harvestella’s combat system has pretty simple fundamentals, what with your character mostly being able to attack and use long-cooldown abilities. The team specifically tried to avoid modern conceits like a focus on precise dodge rolling and instead concentrated on a system that rewarded diligent players who looked after their gear and stats.
That might not sound too appealing, but the experience gets a little more exciting when you consider the wide variety of job classes available. You’ve got swordfighters, martial artists, mages and all manner of other options, each with their own skill trees to explore. What’s more, you can equip three of these at once and switch between them in the middle of combat to dynamically address evolving situations. Don’t get the wrong idea, this is still a relaxed action-RPG-lite with some farming stapled on top and not Dark Souls, but it’s certainly nice to have options.
Speaking of farming, it exists! You can do it! There’s a lot less of a focus on it as you primary means of generating income here, though, particularly given the high prices of seeds and low profit margins early on. You certainly won’t be surprised by how it works. Till the land, plant some seeds, water each day, sell the produce, repeat until satisfied. There’s even some fae farmhands to help you keep things going smoothly. Players who meander over to Harvestella in search of a farming sim alone might be a little disappointed, but come into this one thinking of farming as a minigame and you’ll be on the right track.
Speaking of disappointment, one aspect of Harvestella that’s unlikely to displease anyone is the game’s presentation. This is a gorgeous game when it comes to graphics and sound alike, particularly when we’re talking about the fantastic score from Go Shiina (Tekken, Demon Slayer). The beauty takes a toll if you’re playing on Switch, of course, so if you’re unwilling to trade performance for portability you might be better suited with the PC version. A couple other complaints are the overall lack of voice acting – it’s there, sure, but mostly during combat and limited besides – and a somewhat disappointing relationship system where the classic Harvest Moon-styled marriage and such just aren’t present.
Despite all this, though, and no matter what version you choose, you’re bound to have a good time with Harvestella. Farming fanatics might have better options available, but as a cozy action-RPG this one is hard to beat. There’s plenty of content to go around, with side-quests galore and a ton of crafting, cooking, relationship-building and skill-tree-pruning to keep you busy for some time. It’s a great role-playing adventure with a lot of heart.