Unveiled in June 2022 during the Nintendo Direct Mini, Harvestella immediately stood out as a title taking the same direction as the Rune Factory license. So by that you mean a mix between action RPG and life simulator (more precisely, farm management). With Square Enix in charge of the edition and developed by Live Wire?, the title can draw on its experience in RPGs. Available since October 4, 2022, we were able to try it out for long hours. Were we conquered by this new license?

The cultivation of crystals

Square Enix seems very attached to the universe revolving around crystals having a preponderant role in everyone’s life. Here, there is no exception to the rule in any way. However, first we need to create our character. Without this being exhaustive, you can choose the gender (or not), your appearance including haircut, color, build and voice. Basically, the character is called Ein, so we call him that. Our story begins when you are faced with a young woman who seems to be a supernatural creature. She tells you a few sentences that seem enigmatic to you. And you sink into a form of unconsciousness. Who was this person? When you wake up, you find yourself in the presence of Cres, the young doctor from the village of Lèthe. After a few discussions, you realize that you don’t remember anything from your past. You discover a world in which Lumicycles have a real impact on life. Each of them seems to be linked to a season.

On the other hand, it happens that the Quietus, a kind of evil annihilating all life exposed to it, surfaces, and this more and more frequently. When it happens, it is more than preferable to stay locked up. During your presence in the village, a strange phenomenon occurs, a crystal falls from the sky and crashes near the village. Once close to Cres, you see what appears to be a door. You decide to introduce yourself inside the crystal, interior which is not without surprise, but you find there an entity in armor that you decide to save. It would be an Augur, a species that seems to want to harm human beings who are called here Abels. The mayor suggests that you settle on the outskirts of the village in a farm, Val d’Oiseau, because the inhabitant has abandoned the place. This allows you to collect the Augur without panicking the whole village, but also to become autonomous thanks to your crops.

The art of combat by Specialties

blankNot to mention war, you will have to fight throughout the game. Thus, it is important to talk about the combat system. The title being in the Action RPG genre, the fights therefore take place in real time by facing the enemies who will be present in the areas in question. In itself, it’s very simple, there is a key for special attacks and up to three shortcuts for special attacks. But there is still a subtlety. Surely inspired by Jobs from Final Fantasy, Harvestella offers several specialties such as Fighter, Mage or even Celestial Lancer. There are twelve in total. Each specialty therefore allows you to learn three special attacks via a sort of talent tree. In addition to these special attacks, it will be possible to strengthen your specialty via passives increasing, for example, physical but also elemental attacks, because yes, each specialty is affiliated with an element. In addition, it is possible here to reduce the activation time of the specialty.

blankQuite simply because it is possible to equip up to three specialties and switch between them during the exploration / combat phases. However, there is a cool down once the change has been made in order to return to the previous specialty. Reducing this time is therefore important. Finally, there is a subtlety during boss fights: interruptions. It is possible to increase the damage by causing an interruption, and this, by accumulating damage of the same element until the triggering of this one. The bosses are also likely to trigger devastating attacks that he charges for a fairly long time. It is then necessary to inflict a maximum of damage to him in order to destroy the gauge which is displayed and to break this attack. The boss then becomes immobile and then takes increased damage.

Do you know how to plant cabbage?

blankThe other aspect of the game is in the management of the farm. Like all titles of the genre, you start with a small plot of land that must first be developed by breaking the small rocks present (the large ones are not destructible at the start of the adventure). Nothing new, you have to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and water daily. Then, as soon as the crop is ready, you just have to harvest and you are free to store or ship in order to glean the money. So you have to find the right balance. Be careful however, the changes of season are radical, the Quietus comes to destroy all the cultures. Plan ahead. Little by little, it will be possible to make processing machines to make flour or jams, among other things. Which brings us to the kitchen. It is possible to learn a multitude of recipes that are very useful for your progress. Indeed, an endurance gauge allows you to fight like working your crops. If you have a full stomach, stamina is regenerated and you can thus launch more serenely into your objectives. Also know that fairies will gradually settle in your farm to help you. They expect you to complete certain tasks (recorded in a book). Honoring them earns you new machine recipes and bonuses to improve the quality of your productions.

blankIn addition to plantations, it is also possible to engage in breeding in order to obtain eggs and milk. In order to have the possibility of it, it is obviously necessary to solicit the services of the village in order to enlarge your farm as well by the fields of cultures as the structures necessary for the breeding. In addition, a forge also allows you to improve the weapons of each character. Inns exist in each city asking you to bring them dishes in order to turn off their menu, it is strongly recommended to do so as it is lucrative. It is also time to address the life simulator side. In itself, it is not really present since we mainly interact with our companions and a romance is not possible. On the other hand, it should be specified that the Specialties are acquired when you integrate a new companion into the team (you can thus travel with two companions). In addition to the acquired Specialty, you can improve your affinity with them via quests (often limited to dialogues) which will have the effect of giving passive stats when they are present in the group. For the rest of the relationships with the inhabitants, it is mainly through more or less intense side quests that you will exchange with them. Still, they are not limited to Fedex and are rather well scripted.

The art of crystals

blankOn the technical level, we must admit that we can be mixed. It is artistically very pretty and even magical. This world filled with crystals knows how to flatter our sensitivity. Despite this, there is a rather annoying blurring that does not do justice to the look of the game (quite pronounced blurriness in handheld mode). Even in terms of modeling, it’s pretty average overall. Only the main characters get honorable treatment. The NPCs are far too little differentiated and it happens that from one quest to another, it seems to be talking to the same person. The decorations can also lack details. But let’s not be too strict, everything remains coherent and rather pleasant (some panoramas are even very beautiful).

blankThe scenario is rather interesting even if sometimes a little too conventional. Nevertheless, although a lot of clues are scattered during the adventure, the story itself is relatively captivating. Going back to the side quests, we can sometimes be taken aback by the implausibility of certain situations, such as taking children to more than hostile places… Sound-wise, it’s mostly very good, but we can perhaps regret that there are really few themes. It is often the evil that watches for this type of game. As you will have understood, the game can seem half fig, half grape on the technical level. Moreover, it remains to conclude by the difficulty. The game is not easy in itself, especially in terms of the fights which can quickly become punitive if you are not well prepared.

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