The latest Story of Seasons game is finally here and this time, it has a nifty new twist with help from the delightful Doraemon.
Doraemon Story of Seasons puts a unique spin on the familiar universe. What makes it stand out from the average Story of Seasons game is the characters from the manga series as well as Doraemon's gadgets which are used to help out on your farm. If you're unfamiliar with the Story of Seasons franchise, it's a series of farming sims that fans rely on to go the extra mile to keep farm life interesting. Numerous story events and hundreds of collectible fish, insects, ores, recipes, and such to collect as well as a good range of makers which allow your farmed items to be worth even more is just the tip of the iceberg with what can be expected from the average Story of Seasons title. Thankfully, this Doraemon spin-off mostly sticks to the tried and true formula unlike the disappointing Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale from a few years ago.
You play as Doraemon's good friend Noby who decided to try running his own farm after him and his family and friends randomly wake up in a strange town. Doraemon's gadgets have mysteriously gone missing and collecting them plays a big part in the story. Some of the gadgets are extremely useful such as the Anywhere Door which acts as a teleporter or the Super Gloves that allow you to sow many seeds at once. Interacting with the villagers and earning their friendship is the only way to find out where the gadgets are and given how useful some of them can be, it's definitely worth the work to pay visits and give folks their favourite items every day.
The average day revolves around planting and watering crops, tending to chickens and livestock, visiting the villagers, fishing, foraging, chopping wood, and mining. Unfortunately, there is only a small selection of livestock to tend to which results in merely cute chickens, sheep, and cows to coo at. It gets a little repetitive when you can't look forward to unlocking more fun animals.
Doraemon Story of Seasons suffers from becoming repetitive once you hit around the middle of the first year. The problem arises from the fact that it takes too much iron and wood to build or upgrade anything. When you chop down a tree, you get a measly 5 pieces of wood and finding iron in the mine is way more difficult than acquiring copper or even silver. This results in you often spending days at a time simply lumbering or mining, taking a nap to restore your stamina, and then getting back at it. Don't get me wrong, there is actually a nice selection of house upgrades, sheds, barns, and even makers to build but they take way too long to unlock.
In other Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons games, the quality of mining gameplay has varied quite a bit. In Doraemon Story of Seasons, it can be frustrating and monotonous but there is a good selection of ores and gems to find that are needed in a lot of recipes. Unfortunately, there are only 10 floors and finding the rope down to the next floor involves blindly hitting the right square on a grid. It's impossible to get down to the 10th floor and find the higher quality ores without cheating by saving when you reach a level then loading when you find out where the rope is in order to preserve your stamina and not waste it trying to find the rope again.
Although the town in Doraemon Story of Seasons is quite large and the graphical quality is top-notch, it suffers from multiple small issues that make it seem as if the developers were starting from scratch and not building something with similar gameplay that's already been built many times before. Some examples of this include: the chickens sit on their eggs, requiring you to pick each one up individually and move them; the stamina bar is hidden in a menu; the same buttons are sometimes reused resulting in you accidentally performing an action; there's no way to see what someone has requested in a story quest; the opening hours of some stores are ludicrous; there's no marriage system; fishing is only done with a fishing rod and involves no mini-game; I could go on and on. I want to see each Story of Seasons title build on the last and although the main elements are here, this one takes steps back in too many small ways.
Given my list of complaints, I must say that I've put in over 30 hours so far in my playthrough and I'm halfway through winter of year 1. The fact that I've actually played Doraemon Story of Seasons this much shows that despite its many minor annoyances, there's definitely enough enjoyable gameplay and charm in its story and hand-painted visuals to keep me playing. By the way, I've read about the ability to unlock a cool shop that harvest sprites run but as it takes so much grinding to get multiple characters' friendship levels up high enough, I'll have to keep at it before I can check out the supposedly unique and extremely handy items that they sell.
Doraemon Story of Seasons provides a unique take on what is mostly a tried and true formula. If you can deal with many minor quality of life issues and have the patience to spend a lot of time mining and lumbering, you'll get some good farming fun out of this title.
- + Watercolour graphics are a treat
- + Doraemon's gadgets add a fun touch to the typical formula
- + Town is quite large and attractive
- - Too many quality of life problems
- - Excessive reliance on a couple of materials that are hard to gather
- - Mining and fishing aren't that fun