E3 2017 – Hands on with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Natsume might not be a name that you are familiar with, but if you play or have played any of the Harvest Moon games, you will know them by reputation. This year at E3 2017, they were at the show once again and showing off their latest title, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope and its coming to PlayStation 4, PC and Nintendo Switch.
A few years back, the developer who handled the bulk of the game split form Natsume, so now Natsume are doing it all in house and while their first efforts were not that great, Light of Hope seems to break that trend. You start the game off by choosing your gender and then the story takes off from there, your character has decided that life is not going their way and that they need to just take a break from it all, so they rent a boat and go sailing, however in a freak storm, your boat runs into rocks and you are thrown overboard, waking up in the care of some of the last people of this small town on this tiny island. They inform you that the Lighthouse has been broken for many years, which is why you hit rocks and now they ask you to help repair the town and bring life back to this small village.
From there the game really takes itself back to normal, you start off with a small patch of farm land, where you can raise animals and grow crops. As you cultivate your resources, you can use them to repair buildings and other parts of the island, for example, there is a hot spring that is not useable right now, but if you repair it, you can use it to restore your stamina and health whenever you want, even getting small boosts from it. The Mine that the town has used in the past has caved in and if you repair the entrance, you can then start to mine minerals, which can help you repair other things in the village.
The game is not just more of the same though, new animals have been added, including a brown cow, which when milked provide you with chocolate milk, or the pink sheep, which gives you fairy floss, these new items are only just some of the things you can get, which you will again use to help out the people of this town. Those who have played more recent games will remember the various events that you could take part in, like horse racing and such, they are hear as well, in addition new events like dog racing are here as well. Marriage has always been a big deal for Harvest Moon and it is present as well, with 5 bachelors and bachelorettes present for you to try to woo, with their being a witch and wizard present as well.
While most of this will seem like run of the mill, there are some changes to the main formula, the biggest change is that the game now understands what you want to do. In past games, if you were standing at a place where you could plant seeds, you had to go into the menu, select your hoe, til the ground, then go back to the menu and select the seeds you wanted, plant the seeds, go back to the menu and select the watering can and then water your freshly planted seeds, it was quite a saga. Now however the game knows if you are standing at a plot of land you can plant in, you only need to ensure you have the items you need in your bag, the game will til the ground for you, then plant the seed and finally water it, without you have to select anything in a menu. If you stand next to a tree, your action of choice is to cut it down and again, no menus needed, it auto selects the axe and you can begin to chop, it really speeds up the whole process.
The game is on track for a release later this year, but an exact date is not yet known, those who are looking forward to it on Switch will find the same experience in either handheld or docked mode. PlayStation 4 Pro is not yet supported, but with the games simple visuals, it is not something that really needs to be there I think. Those on PC will get some more advanced control options if they use a mouse and keyboard, but controllers are supported as well.
While Harvest Moon Light oif Hope does not appear to change the game in a massive way, the smaller changes that they have made are making the game much more faster paced and approachable to newcomers, which is always welcome.