With Harvest Moon celebrating its 15th anniversary, it's no wonder that the latest installment is called A New Beginning. Although the first month of the game is rather slow, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on all the great things that A New Beginning has to offer.
When you boot up A New Beginning, you'll be prompted into selecting your gender. For the purposes of this review playthrough, I decided on a female protagonist with pink pigtails, a cheerful attitude, and a snazzy worker's outfit. The amount of customization options for hair, eyes, and face, shows that the game has a decent amount of variety. It doesn't have the customization levels of Skyrim, but there is a enough that the majority of players will be able to find a design that satisfies them.
My sweet, endearing farmer Dakota has just entered Echo Village. She has found that there is property in her name. However, what was once a thriving village is now the home to three people who desperately wish for the village flourish. Dakota's task is to revitalize the village and hope that she can help drive people back to Echo Village.
For the eight and a half hours I've played this game, there's been a lot of tutorial information, which can be a touch overwhelming. However, it's important to understand that A New Beginning has so many new features that it needs to have a tutorial for everything. Do not fear the massive amount of tutorials, because once the game sets you loose, you'll see that there is ample amount of content to fill your day.
What are some of the new activities featured in A New Beginning? Well let's take a look, shall we?
Fish Trapping — Back in Harvest Moon: A Tale of Two Towns introduced being able to catch fish with your hands in small streams. A New Beginning takes this a step further by adding fishing traps. In the designated areas, players will find poles sticking out of the water, which is marked as a trapping area. By tossing a trap in the water and waiting a half an hour (in game time!), you'll be able to catch an assortment of items, as oppose to just standing with your fishing rod and waiting for something to nibble at your line. The fish trapping has been a great addition thus far.
Construction & Blueprints — this is probably one of the larger features added to the game, as it is an integral part of the storyline. When Rebecca moves in during the spring, you find out that she and her son, Toni, are homeless. With gusto, the townspeople work together to give her and her son a helping hand. Rebecca explains to the player that she is an architect and will draft blueprints to help revitalize the town. Upon entering the new studio that is attached to your house, players can construct new objects for the town and their farm. So far, I've only made a bench and a lamp. I am currently working towards a supply shed (almost there!) and building the Newspaper Carrier's house.
It's also important to note that when Iroha enters the village in the spring, if you give her gifts she enjoys, she will give you blueprints as well!
Bee Keeping — Outside of buying livestock, your farmer can now be a bee keeper as well. Bees make honey, and they are an excellent source of income depending on the TLC you provide them. Catch yourself a few wild honey bees, build them a home, and you are ready to begin your Winnie the Pooh-like adventures.
Animal Sanctuary — Does your livestock need a change of scenery? Well, send them to Neil's Animal Sanctuary! Here they can frolic for hours on end. Sadly, I only have one cow right now. I take Mimi to this place every so often to let her rest and relax.
These are not the only new features in the game, as there is also a travel agency, new home decor customization, new Livestock options (Yak!), and much more. A New Beginning has lots of new goodies on top of its usual fan favourite tasks of farming, fishing and mining.
After over eight hours of play and my first spring nearly complete, I can honestly say that I'm enjoying my time with with A New Beginning. Now if Neil would just notice Dakota bit more, I'd be even happier. Silly Neil, you will be mine! Oh yes, you will be mine... maybe. Unless Allen sweeps me off my feet.
In any case, check back with RPGamer as we take a look back on fifteen years of Harvest Moon, as well as our full review of A New Beginning.