Over the past few days, I’ve been playing the beta version of the new mobile game Harvest Town from QY Games. It’s currently in early access, so it’s far from perfect, but it still gets a lot right. Harvest Town, much in the vein of Stardew Valley, is a pixel-art farming simulator. In theory, an imitation usually falls short when compared to the original, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes these “copies” are better than the mainstream equivalent. Harvest Town’s merits can’t be graded on how much it shares with Stardew Valley. The question is: Are those merits horrible or an honorable mention?
Harvest Town: The Good
You have a dilapidated farm with only a handful of plants given to you by an old man who mourns the anonymity of his old town. Wait, why did I get a dejá vu? For an early access title, the game is surprisingly filled with content. You can romance villagers, clean up your farm, fulfill endless orders, decorate your ever-expanding mansion, and even do a bit of monster killin’. Decorating your house is an experience that holds more possibilities than the simple “do the same thing but bigger” method employed in games like Animal Crossing.
A cell phone makes managing orders instantaneous instead of tedious. Constant consumables, given for early access, allow instant refilling of your stamina for longer work hours. This, among other things, enhances previously established concepts in a way that sets this game apart.
Harvest Town: The Bad
Harvest Town isn’t immune to design oversights, but the cons go beyond programming issues. For one, the dialogue is abysmal. I’m not trying to be a narrative snob for a casual game, but the text is like it was translated through Google five times back-to-back. I’m serious. Beyond the horrendous script is the design choices for the town. The devs are clearly of a foreign background, as the city is heavily based on traditional Japanese architecture.
Accompanying this is a bunch of kanji that prevents an uncultured American like me from knowing what each building is without memorization. The opening cinematic has a large Japanese script that not only takes more screen space than the translation but goes super fast. You need to be a speed reader if you’re not the kind of player who disregards the plot.
Harvest Town isn’t a bad game. It has a ton of charm and even more potential, despite the shoddy localization. The game may appear to be a complete rip-off of Stardew Valley and, to be fair, it is. That doesn’t make it worse. It only encourages it to work harder to differentiate itself and make a splash. Harvest Town is only in beta, but I don’t think my little pocket of the world is the intended demographic. Hopefully, this changes in the future because it’s always a thrill to see what the underdogs will release next!