The Story of Seasons series, which is a sort of splinter off of Harvest Moon in the US, has been around for over 20 years, building up a dedicated audience of fans, but never reaching huge success in the West. Which is a bit odd, because many elements from these games have been used to great effect elsewhere. Animal Crossing, and more recently Stardew Valley took the Story of Seasons formula and created massive successes, even among the Western audiences that Harvest Moon had failed to grab in all but a few cases. Now the latest game in this long running series is here, but can it garner the success that this series has always deserved?
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is very much what you’d expect from a game in this series, with little variation to cause worry or excitement. The titular twist this time around is that there are three towns that players can visit, each with their own people to talk to, with a culture all their own. Outside of that you’ll still be farming, working, and trying to find someone to marry as you progress through the seasons of the year making sure you have enough money and food on hand to do the things you want on your farm.
It’s tough to describe a game like Story of Seasons. This is because it almost doesn’t feel like a game at all. Sure, it has a stamina gauge and there’s all these little video game style elements, but so much else is missing that if you don’t know what you’re getting into, it can be quite jarring. It’s closer to a life simulator than anything else, taking players, putting them into the shoes of a young farmer in a small town, then letting you do whatever you want to with that. There’s no combat, dying, or any of that stuff. Instead you’ll stress out over how your crops are doing, how your animals are faring, and who in town you might want to marry some day.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns introduces you to its many intricate gameplay elements in a completely boring way
With this in mind, Story of Seasons: Trio of Town works just about as well as any other game in the series, not altering the formula too much outside of the introduction of the three towns. This is likely because the formula works for the core audience of fans that have stuck with this series and others like it for over 20 years now.
Taking care of your farm is the biggest worry that you’ll have, along with completing any side jobs that you optionally take on each day. The farm mostly serves as a daily task list, putting your precious little stamina into tilling the earth, planting seeds, watering everything you can, then finally harvesting your crops. You can then simply place your fruit and vegetables into a nearby box, where they’ll automatically be sold at the end of the day. Farm animals also factor in, with players having to tend to their needs in order to yield the best results, in either milk or other byproducts.
The real activity takes place in town though, where you can take on the aformentioned side jobs. These usually revolve around helping random people, delivering items to people, or getting enough of a certain item into your box by the end of the day. These are more challenging than they first appear, with some being fairly challenging to complete if you haven’t built up your farm and are still getting used to the town. They’re a good source of quick cash though, so they’ll be an integral part of your early hours with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns.
Interacting with the various townsfolk of the three towns from the title is also something players will have fun with. The dialogue is well written and the characters are engaging in a way that keeps you coming back to them, while debating which might be the best partner for you in the future. If you’re looking for another life simulator title then you won’t go wrong with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns.
The biggest problem with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is the same thing that I’ve mentioned here as somewhat of a strength. The game simply doesn’t change too much from what we’ve seen in this series and the genre before. Fans of either will likely be addicted just as much as usual, but if this review feels a bit cold and analytical it’s because that’s how the game felt while playing it.
Sure, it has a lot of charm to it, and the graphics are pretty cute in their overall design, but the game simply didn’t offer anything that kept me engaged and interested beyond its baser elements. This is especially true of the first hour or two, which are essentially a single solid block of tutorial explanation. Simply put, Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns introduces you to its many intricate gameplay elements in a completely boring way and does so for an unacceptably long amount of time.
Some of the deeper elements are kept locked away, sprinkled out to you over your first few in-game days, weeks, and more. However, by the time you get to these parts of the game you will either be bored out of your mind, or you were going to play the game for dozens of hours anyway. It just needs a more deft hand in its introduction section, letting players get to the game, and teaching them about the mechanics in more varied ways.
If you’re already a fan of the Story of Seasons series, or the genre that it has revolutionized in a number of ways, then Trio of Towns will certainly be exactly what you’re wanting out of it. If, however, you are coming at this from any other place, the game might not be worth playing unless you’re dying to try something new. The titular towns add some fun and variety, but with a detrimental opening tutorial section, and an overall lack of innovation and fun, the game can drag down significantly. It’s a worthy followup to its predecessors, but little else.