Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS) Review
If you were like me, you may have been a little confused by the name of this game. The synopsis and style are very similar, but the name is different from what you might’ve thought. For those that are not familiar, Story of Seasons is, in-fact, the formerly known Harvest Moon franchise out here in the West and Trio of Towns is the third game that is released under this re-branded title. The premises of the game is pretty straightforward; perform day-to-day activities such as cultivating crop, tending to livestock, fishing, mining, managing your farm's finances and the like. With the aid of part-time jobs, the goal is to make profit and eventually earn enough money to settle down with a respectable young man/lady and start a family of your own.
The game starts off with a flashback to a time when your character was a young child; enjoying the farm life for the very first time. Your character has an epiphany and decides that it is time to move out of your parent’s house and live as a farmer. Albeit a somewhat intriguing story, it is on the cheesy side and a tad too lengthy. It will not be almost 45 minutes worth of cutscenes and tutorials until you are actually allowed to play.
Immediately after the backstory, you meet your Uncle Frank; your father’s brother who just happens to be a farmer. Uncle Frank gives you a fairly thorough tutorial of the game mechanics along with a guided tour around the main hub, Westown. Striking up a conversation with the locals will allow you to build reputation around town and increase your overall relationship with them. Building friendships and having a high reputation will grant gifts and the ability to unlock better crops and animals. One thing I found awkward was the long automatic conversations that pop up randomly that does not contribute to relationship building. It would be fine if the conversation was fairly quick or is a tutorial in nature, but unfortunately, many of these automatic conversations are long and cannot be skipped. What sets this game apart is that relationship building and socializing is not required to progress (but really, why wouldn't you?). Not participating in any of the relationship related activities will not hurt your town reputation in any way and is entirely optional. The only thing that is required is to manage your resources and prove that a simple life on the farm is a respectable way of living.
Just as the title states, there are several towns to explore. Instead of the single hub, there are three in this title and each with its own unique style. Within each of these cities, your character will meet different NPCs and unlock different items along the way. Small visual effects and color pallette really differentiates each of these towns from one another. On graphics, Trio of Towns uses a mix of 2D art and 3D effects. One of the best things I noticed in this game is how alive everything feels. There are always animals roaming and random villagers out and about. These are small effects added to the overall scene that, while not necessary, makes the game endearing. However, there are times where there is a slight drop in framerate due to the amount of villagers roaming around along with the weather effects. Overall, from a graphical standpoint, the game is bright, cheerful and cute.
On gameplay, equipping tools and performing day-to-day tasks are easy and very straightforward. There are some minor annoyances such as having to constantly go into the menu to equip tools. Instead of being able to assign specific buttons to your tools, you have to manually go into the side menu to equip the tool, then re-equip the next one and so forth to get your task done. Pressing the Y button will put away the equipped item, but if you want to use the same item, you will need to go into the menu again to re-equip, making the process somewhat tedious and inefficient. The map was also a bit confusing to navigate at first. The location and name of landmarks are not stated on the map on the bottom screen, so I had to run around town several times before I could finally make my way back to my own farm. The first few hours of the game was a massive tutorial. I found it a bit too restrictive as it wasn’t until 45 minutes into the game where I was allowed to control my character freely and equip my first watering can.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is a nice change of pace from the usual games where there are a list of specific objectives set out linearly for you to accomplish. There are so many things to do in this game, but they do not make it a requirement. The only goal there is in Trio of Towns is to harvest crop and tend to farm animals; making this a very laid-back and wholesome game. I found myself thinking about my crops, and how I could minmax my daily routine. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this game once I got my routine down. I recommend checking out this game for anyone that is remotely interested and looking for something casual and light hearted to play.
Review copy courtesy of XSEED Games