With 2017 being the 20th Anniversary of the Harvest Moon franchise, it seems like no better time to bring the farming life sim back to consoles. The newest entry in the Harvest Moon series, Light of Hope, is slated for a release on Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and for the first time ever in the franchise’s history, it will get a PC version as well. Two members of the Controller Crusade team had the chance to sit down and spend almost an hour with the Light of Hope E3 demo on the Nintendo Switch, and we’ll give you a run down of all the details.
Looking for a lifestyle change, your character decides to travel to an island for a change of scenery. Along the way a monsoon destroys the ship, along with many of the island’s structures, and extinguishes the lighthouse. After washing ashore, you’re nursed back to health by some of the island’s villagers. In Harvest Moon: Light of Hope you must become the island’s light of hope by restoring the island and rekindling the lighthouse.
The first thing we immediately noticed when entering the game was the two dimensional backgrounds, clearly going for the retro aesthetic from the Harvest Moon games of old. While it’s a welcome change, the backgrounds sort of clashed with the character sprites, which looked to be mostly recycled from the previous 3DS titles. The Minecraft-esque terraforming mechanics that became a major aspect to the last two Harvest Moon titles have been abandoned in Light of Hope, delivering a much more traditional feeling to the game.
The E3 demo of Harvest Moon: Light of Hope featured a small sample size of the island to explore, but we were still able to get a pretty good feel for the new features the game has to offer at this stage of its development. One of these new features is the inclusion of some new animals, some of which were shown in the demo. The first new animal we came across was called the chocolate cow, which you could probably guess what kind of milk it produces. There are also chocolate chickens which produce candy eggs, and cotton candy sheep. Alongside these obscure new animals are the traditional cows, chickens, sheep, and poitou donkey. As always dogs will be available as pets, and will take part in a new dog racing festival.
Another new feature is how the villager requests are delivered to your farmer. Instead of going to a bulletin board in a town square, villagers will send you requests straight to your mailbox. Upon receiving the request in the mail you will then talk to the villager to get more detail on their request and deliver their goods. Villagers will also need your help rebuilding their shops and homes, which can be done by trading in certain materials and spending a set amount of gold.
As mentioned before the demo featured quite a few recycled character sprites, which means some of the fan favorite characters from the previous titles make a return, such as Doc and Cyril. There are a total of five bachelors and five bachelorettes to choose from in Light of Hope, including a witch, a wizard, and a mage. The witch and wizard are particularly useful companions, as the witch will give you information on your friendship levels with other villagers, and the wizard will tell you the next day’s weather.
There are major improvements to the farming mechanics in Light of Hope. First off there is no longer the need to fumble between your tools, as the game will now do the dirty work for you. When you walk up to a tile and press A the game will decide what needs to be done to that tile, which eliminates accidentally watering a tile twice, or cutting the crop down with your sickle by mistake. Players will now just simply have a one button command to water, till, and pick crops without ever having to open their inventory. Another useful improvement is the detailed information on each crop. The perfect example would be if you grew a mutation of a crop completely by accident and weren’t sure how you did it. When you look at the description of that crop it will give you information on how that mutation is achieved so you can replicate the method in the future. The description will also give you other information such as what seasons that crop can be grown in, and what terrain you can plant the seeds in.
While the demo was clearly an early build of the game (so early there aren’t even any screenshots available), there were some bright spots to be found in our time with Light of Hope. Natsume emphasized the importance of bringing Harvest Moon to the PC region free, so fans all around the world are able to experience the game. Also returning to a more traditional format is a step in the right direction for getting the franchise back on track. There will be plenty more details revealed in the coming months, as Light of Hope has been given a release window of end of 2017 or beginning of 2018, so stay tuned to Controller Crusade for more information.