After the success of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, which was a remake of the cult-classic GameBoy Advance original, Marvelous is back again with a brand new entry in the series with Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. While the developers have opted to focus on keeping the general ebb and flow the same as the previous games in Story of Seasons, they have refined the overall mechanics and added features like the ability to gain materials and crafting by learning new recipes.
The farming simulator genre mashed up with RPG results in Story of Seasons. This is the perfect game to sit back, relax, and enjoy the slow pace of the story and progression while working on our own farm. In the case of Pioneers of Olive Town, there is a feeling that we are getting more of the same but at a scale that has never been attempted before in the series. Unfortunately, all of this comes with some drawbacks that make this less than optimal entry to dive into especially as a newcomer.
Just like a typical narrative in Story of Seasons, you play the role of a boy/girl tasked with taking care of a huge piece of farmland left by their grandfather. You arrive on this land to make it cultivable, establish relationships with the locals that live near the land in Olive Town, and start your own business by earning from your farmland. The size of the farm has been significantly expanded for this new entry so you now have a huge land to manage and multiple tasks to do each day, not to mention there are quests just like in an RPG that you can complete to gain rewards or get closer to the townsfolk.
In the last game, there wasn’t much to customize for our in-game character, but that has changed with this entry. In this new game, we can not just customize their appearance but also voice, clothes, and so on. This adds a level of depth making the character feel personal to us.
The real meat of the game is obviously the farm management. In this regard, Pioneers of Olive Town is never short of options. As you slowly begin to clear the farm from the untamed wilderness that destroys it, you can start to earn money from it, use it to harvest new sources of income that can help you to improve your livelihood, find hidden mines to look for materials, use your wealth to craft new and stronger tools and expand your reach on the farm.
Pioneers of Olive Town manages to keep the gameplay fresh with a sheer amount of activities thrown at the player around every corner. Beginning with a simple piece of land, the player begins to accumulate new resources by chopping trees and removing the weed to fertilize the land. You need various tools to farm on this newly produced land and once you grow enough, you can then sell it or keep the food for your own self. The game offers a box near the player’s residence to use for selling any materials procured during farm management. This doesn’t even begin to describe the other activities like bringing in animals and tending to them to gain valuables like milk, or getting into a relationship with an NPC from Olive Town, which feels like a different game on its own.
Once you have established a source of income and think there are enough profits, it is time to upgrade your facilities or tools so that you can use them to carry out the existing tasks faster, or more efficiently. You can grow your business and improve the lifestyle on your farm with the profit generated from gathering these resources and even have a pet of your own, although you won’t gain any benefit out of it. In the start, you have a tiny piece of land that feels more than enough for your needs, but once you complete the task of repairing one of the bridges that connect to another piece of land, you will find another ample piece of land to cultivate and develop into a farm opening up new venues for your lifestyle.
Olive Town itself is full of interesting NPCs. When you are not busy with managing your farm and doing various activities, you can run into town and dive into the lifestyle of the NPCs. You can find someone to form a romantic relationship and complete quests for them. There is a bulletin board in the Town Hall where you can find requests from the citizens of Olive Town. You can complete these requests to gain rewards, most of which are monetary but there are some nice surprises too. Completing quests for the mayor of Olive Town can lead to new shops or buildings opening their doors for you so you can gather more resources or customize your character in different ways.
If you want to dig deeper into romance, the game offers five bachelors and bachelorettes for a relationship. While most of the conversations with NPCs feel generic and have repetitive dialogue, some exciting cutscenes do offer a good amount of character development, helping you connect with your partners. After a hard day of farm work, it is always a treat to hang out with a partner and go through the various events together with them, enjoying the best of both worlds.
One of the drawbacks of huge farmland is the performance suffers as a result, especially on the Nintendo Switch. Technically, the game is not that impressive and looks decently with its 3D art style, but the frame rate is inconsistent and makes it a struggle to go through the world map when you are looking to harvest more resources on your farm. There is also the problem of long load times that the game suffers from, but the most recent update appears to have reduced their timing somewhat, so it feels slightly more bearable now.