An unknown lady with amnesia is found outside during Quietus, a seasonal event that causes living things to wither and die. How can our protagonist survive during this event and why does Quietus keep getting longer every season? Uncover the truth in HARVESTELLA.
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A farming JRPG
You might be fooled by the name of this JRPG as the fact that it contains the word harvest might make you assume that it's a farming sim. However, you'll likely spend much more time completing quests, uncovering plot points, fighting battles, and completing dungeons than you will tending to your crops. As a fan of both genres, I was pleasantly surprised by the balance between the 2. Some days, I would focus on expanding my farm, cooking, planting seeds, and tending to livestock and other days, I would venture into the map and take on some quests or advance the story. HARVESTELLA lets you take things at your own pace so switching between these helps a great deal with keeping things fresh. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94
Get a job
HARVESTELLA contains a job system with 12 jobs in total and each has their own weapons including a sword, mage staff, lance, and even a giant shotgun. New jobs are unlocked as you get further in the story as every new character who joins your party will have their own job and unlock that same job for the protagonist at the same time. You can equip up to 3 jobs that can be swapped on the fly after waiting for a certain amount of cooldown time between each swap. I enjoyed playing with the different jobs to see which ones would inflict more damage and preparing myself for a dungeon based on the enemies was rewarding. However, I wish that I was able to choose which ones I had equipped without being at a save point so that I had more control.
Battles in HARVESTELLA are pretty simple for the most part. You will unlock a few abilities per job and mostly spam the attack button while using abilities when they've cooled down as well as swapping between jobs as you desire. I was a little disappointed by how often the same enemies seemed to pop up even in different dungeons but there are some memorable boss fights to help make up for that. Some enemies will telegraph their attacks and with boss attacks being more wide-reaching, it can be enjoyable to effectively dodge their attacks while trying to position yourself correctly to damage them.
Explore the world
The dungeon-crawling in HARVESTELLA is one of my most favourite aspects. Some dungeons are huge and sprawling with many areas to explore for treasure chests, items, and collectibles. Some employ interesting tactics such as activating switches to unlock elevators and using wind-activated devices to float across gaps. All dungeons have useful shortcut systems, too, so be prepared to carry some repair kits with you so that you can cross a bridge or climb a ladder the next time you visit to save some time exploring.
There are also enemies that are several levels above you when you first visit a dungeon thus requiring you to nimbly walk around them to avoid their wrath until you've levelled up enough to take them on and net a sweet prize for your efforts and patience.
Live off the land
Farming is more laidback than dungeon-crawling but it's still rather enjoyable given the vast amount of seeds and trees to grow. You'll also unlock cave and water biomes for growing special types of seeds and a ton of makers, too. These take items that you've farmed or collected and transform them into cooking ingredients such as mayonnaise or food for cuffowls (birds that lay eggs) and woolums (animals that produce milk). Given the large variety here, I wish there was a similar assortment of animals, especially some cute ones! 🥺
Take in the scenery
The graphics of HARVESTELLA are both impressive and disappointing depending on what you're looking at. For example, walking around the farm and tending to your crops is quite attractive but when discovering the town of Lethe, I was disappointed by the lack of detail in a lot of areas. I would love to see a version of HARVESTELLA on PlayStation 5 as I'm sure with more advanced hardware, it could look quite appealing. Having said that, I enjoyed the variety of towns and dungeons, especially in the more colourful areas such as the beachside village of Shatolla. There is also some nice detail in the cinematography at parts like when watching characters talk and fish. Specifically, the camera will position itself to create an attractive picture such as placing grass and flowers blowing in the wind off to the side in the foreground while characters talk behind it.
Help the residents
HARVESTELLA contains a ton of side-quests with each one taking you on a journey all over the map to help villagers with their troubles. These quests are almost never-ending seeing as there are so many but as you complete each one; you will often be handsomely rewarded with valuable items such as new recipes, seeds, and a good chunk of change. I enjoyed how a lot of the side-quests involved the protagonist helping out children with their issues as it adds an extra layer of charm to see the protagonist running around a dungeon while helping little kids and watching the lighthearted cutscenes.
There's also a good amount of humour in conversations between the fairies that you unlock throughout the story. These fairies will hang out on your farm and reward you for completing tasks based on each season such as harvesting a certain number of a type of seed or creating a new maker. In addition, you'll be rewarded for delivering collectible dolls that are found around the map, making dishes unique to each town, and finding rare fish. The library of items to find and craft is impressively large and it always feels rewarding to come across something new in the hopes that you can use it to create a new recipe or satisfy a job.
HARVESTELLA is a thoroughly enjoyable JRPG with farm management for when you want some downtime after exploring its elaborate dungeons. The fact that you can take your time going through the story and managing your farm means that the pacing is controlled by you so it never gets dull. As long as you enjoy RPGs as much as you do farming, this is a great game that you'll absolutely love.
- + Enjoyable balance between a JRPG campaign and farming sim elements
- + Rewarding dungeon-crawling and shortcuts
- + Tons of optional content
- - Needs more variety of livestock and enemies
- - Can't swap jobs when far from a save point
- - Graphics can be hit or miss