Fed up of the hustle and bustle of city life? Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town invites you to jump on your moped and head to a charming little farm that’s been in your family for three generations. While your family has owned this land for decades, it’s fallen into disrepair since your grandfather left the land. This is where you come in. Tasked with taking this untamed wilderness and transforming it into a thriving farm with livestock, orchards and the odd beach, not only do you get to explore your homestead and make it your own, but you have a direct road to take you to the seaside resort of Olive Town. Picturesque and peaceful, with a bunch of incredibly friendly locals, here you can take a break from all of that toil; and you may even find a lucky bachelor or bachelorette to fall for!
Customisation in Pioneers of Olive Town takes things to a whole new level. You can change every element of who you are down to your voice and your walk, as well as being able to pick from a wide variety of hairstyles, textures, colours, and skin tones, meaning that you can make your in-game character feel just like you – or who you want to be. On top of that, you can also make your own outfits. Well, you can craft the thread, fabric and dye, and then enlist Karina, the resident tailor, to actually make them for you.
In fact, as you build up your farm, you can build machines to process all sorts of materials, from bricks to jam. You can source your materials from a variety of activities: from chopping trees and weeding, to beekeeping and scooping water out of puddles. There’s so many different skills you can work on to just get materials that you’ll never be bored and each day can be completely different if you want it to be. If you don’t want to process materials yourself, you can sell your harvest directly with the help of a box near your cottage. With the sheer amount of variety in not only the gameplay, but the design work that went into the crops, the animals and the NPCs, Pioneers of Olive Town has easily become one of my favourite games of 2021 so far.
You can use your profits to upgrade your facilities or your house. Every upgrade brings unexpected benefits, with barns and coops having enough room to breed livestock, to your house letting you have a pet. There’s no real benefit to having a pet in-game, but if there’s a choice between having a pet and not having a pet, we all know what the best option is.
As if you didn’t have enough to do, the townsfolk and mayor enlist your help to make Olive Town a bustling tourist hot spot. Isn’t that exactly what we were trying to escape when we left the city? On the far north side of town, there’s the Town Hall and a Museum with a few empty displays that, just as in Animal Crossing, are waiting for you to fill with fish, animals and ancient relics, should you come across them. In the Town Hall, you can find the bulletin board, where residents post their requests daily, for a monetary reward. The official town requests will remain until you complete them, so you don’t need to rush to get them done. As more tourists arrive, the happier the townsfolk get, so it’s well worth keeping at it.
Time seems to fly by as you play. With a day taking roughly 20 minutes you could have a whole month pass in a day if you’re dedicated enough – we would recommend you don’t play for 10 hours in a day, though. As if that wasn’t speedy enough, each season is only a month long, with birthdays and events filling up the calendar – my birthday is August 13th if you want to celebrate – and you’ll find a year has passed before you know it. While Pioneers of Olive town isn’t a particularly difficult game, you can spend hours reworking and redesigning your farm, as well as clearing trees and grass that spring up overnight.
Time management is the key to having an entertaining experience, though as you get to decide what is exciting for you, there’s no real way you can go wrong. Each season brings new crops to cultivate, and forage for, creating a whole host of seasonal dishes to create in your kitchen. Just remember, eating the food you harvest or cook can help you keep going for a while, but leave it too long between rests and you’ll find yourself asleep in a field. In a welcome move promoting your own wellbeing, Story of Seasons won’t let you burn the candle at both ends.
The mystical Earth Sprites return in this instalment of Story of Seasons, but they take on a new role. Instead of actively helping on your farm, your presence allows them to thrive once again. As a thank you, they allow you to visit their realms and shower you with gifts which makes for a nice break from all that digging and work stuff.
Marvellous Interactive has already worked some patches into the game, which massively improved gameplay for me. Initially I encountered some freezing and crashing, reducing the quality of gameplay. Now however, these issues seem to have been solved, and ever since the updates, it’s been smooth sailing in Olive Town.