I’d have to look back to Farmville for the last time I took a farming game seriously. I’ve always seen them as games without concrete objectives and, whilst that is slightly true, there’s something to be said about their no-pressure approach. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town can be considered my reintroduction to the genre. Marvelous Interactive have been at the helm for a while and it’s good to know the tricks of the trade still stand strong.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town keeps things leisurely. Once you name your farmer, you move right into town and begin work on the farm. It’s a fairly empty plot of land with only rocks and tree stumps for company. You have a few tools to start working with and everything is simple to work.
Once the ground is tilled, planting seeds and the maintenance of watering crops can truly begin. It’s a simple loop and, whilst the days go by very quickly, it can be rewarding to see vegetables sprout from your labour. The game runs in seasons which are 30 days long and each season has it’s own set of crops to grow. The seasons give the game a great sense of time moving forward and it certainly gave me a lot to think about.
On the farm, there’s a lovely routine to it. Aside from cultivating crops, you can breed and harvest livestock for eggs, wool and milk. As my operations expanded, I had more things to keep track of. You do have a stamina bar that governs how much you can in a given day. Once I was up to speed, a full day of farming would tire me out in the early afternoon. You can eat to regain some stamina and you also have a fatigue mechanic which influences how much your stamina drains with actions.
It sounds stressful but very little of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has any consequences. Forgetting to water crops will never wilt them. Shopping for seeds and livestock tends to easily fit within your budget. Harvested crops will always make their money back in spades. The only thing left to deal with is time.
The farm itself is surrounded by a town of cheery locals. There’s a workshop to upgrade your tools, a mine to discover minerals, ponds and rivers to fish in and places to shop for goods. They all have their opening hours and it becomes another aspect to the daily routine. Most of my time was dedicated to the agriculture but mining can help improve your tools by trading them into the workshop. With more ground to cover as the farm grew, the better weaponry helped keep that place ship shape.
I didn’t spend a lot of time getting to know the townsfolk but they all have birthdays and the town has seasonal events that tie into your farm work. There a sumo contest for your chickens, a festival for your best cows and opportunities to show off your cooking skills. Success here lands you some rare items although I was more interested in making the farm as good as it could be.
There is a grind to it and I certainly started to feel it around Autumn. Money’s never a problem but I did invest heavily in crops that take a while to grow. There’s plenty to do around town but, if the farm slows down, I certainly feel it. It can feel a little aimless at times but trophies do give you an idea of what goals to push for. Having money in hand was always my major objective but the you’re given plenty of feedback in most pursuits.
There’s always one more thing to do and, whilst I never quite felt I was efficiently going about it, I could always come back the next day and finish up. There’s very few days of downtime when the weather intervenes. Windy days feel like write-offs that confine you to your home. You can spend time and money investing in your abode and there’s a space in town especially for you. There’s a lot to work on and it can feel overwhelming, although there’s very little pressure to burn the candle at both ends.
Fishing and foraging for flowers gets you some extra dough and you’re always informed when you land a record catch. It’s that encouragement that keeps me going through the slower moments. With the townspeople, you can decide to push for relationships. They all have birthdays and desires and gifts can get you on their good side. Delving deeper into the mine affords you some more lucrative upgrade materials. There’s always something to look for, even if the tunnel doesn’t have a particular end in sight.
I enjoy it. It’s all presented in big-headed cuteness that’s easy to get behind. The town is vibrant and the change of the season brings new colours to the scenery. Music remains jaunty perfectly fits the game’s jolly tone. There’s a charming twee to it and I can focus on whatever jobs interest me. Completionists will have dozens of hours to play with but, for a guy like me getting my feet wet, I had a good time.
+ Farming has a great sense of routine.
+ There is a lot of things to do.
+ Forgiving with an emphasis of working at your own pace.
- Some tools can take a while to upgrade.
- You really have to make your own goals with these types of games.
- The repetition can start to grind.