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Game Info:

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
Developed by: Marvelous
Published by: XSEED Games
Release date: June 27, 2023
Available on: Gamecube, PS2, Windows
Genre: Simulation
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Everyone
MSRP: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Marvelous for sending us a review code!

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is a rebranded remake of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life which was released in 2005.  I have not played the original game so I cannot comment on too many of the differences.  However, from some Internet research I learned that the town and some of the villagers have been renamed.  One of the notable changes is that your character can be non-binary and can pursue same-sex relationships.  

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life begins with a friend of your father, Takakura, receiving a letter from your character inquiring about farm life and expressing interest in moving to Forgotten Valley (previously called Forget-Me-Not valley).  Upon your arrival, Takakura will show you around the farm and the house he has available for you.  He will provide you with a dog; cow; and eventually, a horse.   Takakura will also explain some basics on shipping and selling goods.  

As you walk around the town, you’ll get to meet its residents and discover their quirky personalities.  Daryl is a mad scientist.  Vesta has quite the farming operation and lives with Matthew and Cecilia, who are romance candidates.  If you need to buy seeds to get your farm going, they’re the people you’ll want to see.  The nearby forest has some elves that live in a tree.  If you eat the nearby mushroom to make you smaller, you can enter their home and learn a few recipes.  

Highlights:

Strong Points: Unique perspective on mortality as you watch your character and townsfolk age
Weak Points: Unless you stumble upon a story sequence, daily life can be a bit bland at times, unsupported on the Steam Deck
Moral Warnings: Can pursue same-sex relationships

There are some interesting choices when it comes to bachelors and bachelorettes in Forgotten Valley.  Gustafa is your typical hippie who is always wearing sunglasses and walks around with his guitar.  Gordy is an abstract artist looking for inspiration.  Rock is a free spirit who doesn’t want to do any work.  I wound up marrying Matthew who is a bit blunt at first.   The girls seem to be more down to Earth except for Nami who comes off as a bit moody.  

Each ten-day calendar month represents a season and time flies pretty fast in this game.  After you marry and have a child, many years will pass for each calendar year completed.  Your character and surrounding townsfolk will age accordingly.  You’ll get to see your child grow to a young adult.  After the story completes, you can play in an endless mode if desired.

During each month, you can look forward to an activity that will impact your character’s relationship with the townsfolk and/or immediate family.  There’s a merchant named Van who stops by twice a month, and you’ll want to check out his wares as they are the only way to get certain items.  In order for improved items to show up in Van’s offerings, you’ll have to use your current ones a lot.  For example, a better fishing rod won’t appear until you have caught at least fifty fish with your current one.

In the beginning and halfway through the month, the townsfolk will post requests on the village bulletin board.  Some exclusive items and recipes can be obtained by accepting and completing these requests.  Most of the requests have a time limit, but the ones offering unique items won’t expire.  

Aside from farming and romancing villagers, there are plenty of ways to pass the time in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life.  Selling items in town is a good way to make money.  By offering villagers a 10% discount, they will like you more.  You can fish in multiple locations. Complex dishes will unlock if you cook lots of simpler ones.  Digging up artifacts at the dig site can net you some relics to sell for a profit.  Alternatively, you can head up the mountain and visit other towns.  These trips take six hours, fade to black, and will give you a quick summary of what your character saw.  Your character will come back refreshed and well fed.  

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay: 17/20
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Stability: 4/5
Controls: 5/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence: 10/10
Language: 10/10
Sexual Content: 6/10
Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

Occasionally, you’ll stumble upon some heartwarming story sequences between your family and friends.  These are difficult to trigger intentionally and are few and far between to break up the mundane chores awaiting you on the farm.  The character development and aging sets this game apart from the others in the series.  I have to admit that I did cry at the end of the sixth chapter.

Performance-wise, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life ran well on my GPD Win Max 2.  I noticed some tearing on my more powerful desktop with a 43” monitor.   When I first launched the game, I couldn’t figure out how to exit it gracefully, but a Quit option has been added to the menu since then.  One game-related glitch I noticed is that ducks and chickens can cross breed.  I had a pair of mixed gendered ducks and multiple female chickens.  Oddly enough, I would incubate fertilized eggs and chickens would hatch from them despite not having a rooster.

Gender makes little difference with humans in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life.  Your character can romance anyone (not married) no matter their gender.  If desired your character can also be non-binary.  Other than LGBTQ+ pandering, this game is pretty clean.  

Though I never played Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, I’m glad I got to experience the remake.  I’m not sure if it’s different enough to warrant buying it again, but I highly recommend it for new players.  You’ll get a reminder that life is short and to make the best of it.  Have some tissues handy toward the end!


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