Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town by developer Marvelous Interactive Inc. and publishers XSEED Games, Marvelous—Sony PlayStation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Having released last year, the latest in Marvelous and XSEED Games’ Story of Seasons, Pioneers of Olive Town, was phenomenal and I had a hard time putting it down. Back again, this more relaxed small town farming simulator is now on a more powerful system making everything even smoother than it already was as you plant crops, tend to your fields and take care of adorable animals.
Seriously. They. Are. Adorable. Chickens, cows, sheep, llamas, kittens and puppies. Adorable. Also, most of these farm animals make up for a good part of the gameplay design as you tend to the land that you have inherited. Backing up just a little bit though before you even get to this point, you’ll get to decide who you are first which was also a good change for the series.
While you do get to pick whether you are binarily Male or Female which affects marriage candidates and the pronouns that are used in game, you are not locked into only male or female choices for your appearance, character voice and clothing. While not super in-depth, it helps you be more of who you want to be or in the case of my second adventure, who I want my avatar / protagonist to be.
Once that’s done you’ll be packing up everything you own into your motorcycle and heading out to this small water front town to take over what was once your grandfather’s farm in a cute little montage. Once you get there though, you’ll have your work cut out for you. Having not been tended in forever, there’s no longer a house, there are no pre-established fields and then there ARE weeds, trees and rocks everywhere. All of these will need to be removed if you want to get anything done, but, it’s a series staple and by this point I don’t know if I would want it any other way.
So starting off with a tent and a few entry grade tools, how you want to proceed in Pioneers of Olive Town is entirely up to you. You can start to chop down trees, you can start to break rocks and you can also start to till small patches of land to plant crops. From there, you can go as big or as small as you want. Smaller fields are easier to tend but will bring in less money over time for things you may want or need in shops. However, it will give you more time to work on your crafting which in turn can make crops easier to manage with a sprinkler system doing all the watering for you.
This leads into another feature of Pioneers of Olive Town that I still fully appreciated the second time around, crafting. Being given basic tools you’ll eventually need to upgrade them for efficiency which will in turn help you cultivate better materials to upgrade your farm, and your tools! The reason I appreciated this system is that not everything will need to cost money and be locked behind shops that close at 6pm and are closed on certain days of the week. Instead just about everything you could need is at your fingertips and as long as you plan it out, can be done on your schedule.
Chopping trees will give you logs, breaking rocks will give you ore and cutting grass will give you… grass. Logs can be turned into usable lumber, ore can be turned into ingots and grass can be turned into various threads to make cloth and clothing. With each of these materials there are grades and each will take longer to turn into usable materials which is why I was happy to be able to tackle these at my pace.
Need to do more than one set of logs, ingots or thread? With the right amount of materials you can make new machines to do the work at the same time. What I appreciate about these machines isn’t just the work that they can do for you, but you’re also told how many can be out in your field at the same time. It’s also a great system that lets you save money for other things such as starter seeds before making your own down the line with crops that have been harvested and a seed maker once it has unlocked.
This all helps you to do things at your own pace as there are no timelines to do things or deadlines to hand things in. Requests by fellow townspeople can be found at City Hall. If you have what they need? Hand it in for a reward. If you don’t? There’s no worry, they won’t hate you for it. Town development in Pioneers of Olive Town was also a nicer touch as there are materials that can be handed in at certain points which spruce up the look of the town so that it evolves with you and your farm.
It all helps to wrap everything together so that there’s always something to do. Waiting or materials to process? Go say hi to the townspeople or try to start romancing someone you fancy. Already done that and have plenty of energy left in the tank? You can chop down a type of tree you need as long as they’ve grown back in the fields, you can lay down new pathways to make sure nothing grows in those specific spots, or, you can go spelunking for all the ore that you can carry.
Or if that’s really not your thing? You can raise livestock! Roaming around your fields in the beginning are chickens, cows, sheep and llamas who are just looking for a home. So it’s great that it just so happens that out in your fields there are barns and coops just waiting to be repaired to give these super cute and adorable animals a home. Once they’ve been given a home, you can call it there, or, you can make sure that they are properly fed everyday and they’ll return the favor.
Chickens, if fed and happy, will give you eggs. Cows will give you milk. Llamas and sheep will give you wool. Each of these can be processed into various items like mayonnaise, fried eggs, milk, cheese, butter for the food and then thread and fabric for the other. This again wraps back around into self sufficiency where you can cook and make your own food inside of having to go eat in town or buy ingredients to cook at home. You obviously can if you want to as these products can net a good profit if you ship them out alongside the rest of your crops.
Now to not completely recap my previous review but from a slightly different stance, as it all still stands true, here’s something I didn’t cover the first time as to not spoil an interesting enough element to Pioneers of Olive Town, Spirits. No, not the alcohol kind, but the supernatural kind. These little wonderful beings start showing up in the beginning as you work in your fields but it’s not until you meet your guide that this all comes together.
Broken into categories, each of these small spirits can be assigned to a larger one in order to help you gather “stuff”. Tree spirit will net you tree related items like sap and logs. The ore spirit will give you rocks, clay, iron, silver, gold. The angler spirit will fish for you! And the chef, to not go into all of the spirits, will give you some pretty fancy dishes so you don’t have to cook yourself. It’s great and as time goes forward and you visit these spirits, they’ll level up and be able to provide you with either more, or better quality, items so it’s a good idea to make sure to visit them almost as daily as the rest of the townspeople.
Finally, while I do still wish that there was more to do with the townspeople other than talk to them for generic NPC lines to raise their affection or friendship status, I found myself not minding as much this time. Instead, I simply looked forward to the cutscenes with these people and to the town events which were always fun especially when there’s pride on the line to win first place!
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a fantastic experience. Whether you are looking for something to casually hold your attention in a soft roll of days forward or have grander ambitions in mind with wanting to grow all of the crops or raise all of the adorable livestock and be outstanding in your field, this is for you.Score: 9 / 10