Game review: Doraemon: Story of Seasons - the best mashup of 2019
It’s fair to say that everyone was pleasantly surprised when Doraemon: Story of Seasons was announced as the next Story of Seasons edition. Story of Seasons, originally known as Harvest Moon, is the best long running series of farming simulation games out there.
Doraemon is an extremely popular Japanese manga series and media franchise. The mashup between the two franchises sounded like a strike of genius that got fans of both the game and the anime excited.
In Doraemon: Story of Seasons, players are introduced to Noby who comes across as a spoiled lazy little boy, his friends, and Doraemon, their robot cat friend from the future. The group gets pulled into a temporal storm that makes them travel through space and time to the village of Natura.
In this process, Doraemon loses all of his cool futuristic gadgets which leaves the group stuck in this place with no way back home - for a while. The group is taken in by a young boy and his grandma who live on a farm. I was sad to learn that in this exciting story; we are playing as Noby. I would’ve loved to play as the cool cat robot from the future.
After all that craziness, we learn that Natura is a place where child labour is not just accepted but is mandatory. The group walks around and everyone finds a job except for Noby. When Noby seems to run out of options, the host that took him and his friends in happens to remember that he has a huge rundown farm for Noby to look after.
The story is narrated in a cute way that feels like an episode of the anime. Sadly, it was really slow paced. It took 50 minutes for me to see my farm. At that stage I was really bored and almost didn’t want to keep on playing.
Once you survive the hour-long introduction and find the will to keep on playing, Doraemon: Story of Seasons takes a turn to the better. The game turns into a classical farming simulation where you have to take care of your farm, go finishing, go mining, sell crops, make money, improve your situation and socialise with other characters.
You have tasks to finish every day for your farm to function well. You also have a decent map to explore. The more you explore, the more activities you unlock.
While this may sound a little overwhelming, the game does an amazing job of introducing new concepts slowly. This will be useful for young players who are just now joining the franchise. As for people who are familiar with the mechanics, there is a very appreciated skip tutorial option.
Just like its predecessors, the game introduces limitations. There is a set number of hours in a day and you have a stamina level that drops the more you work. While some people hate these limitations, I find them necessary. This way you have to plan how to spend the precious hours and what activity you want to exert your energy on. It introduces an element of strategy.
The longer you play the game, the more interesting it gets. After a certain time, you will have enough money to be able to truly customise your farm and make it your own. You will also unlock quests and new areas to explore.
While simple, I think the arts style behind the game is one of its top selling features.
The entire game looks like a collection of beautiful water-color paintings. Every area is designed with an amazing attention to detail. Every window, every brick, and every flower perfectly placed. It adds a relaxing feel to the game that elevates the experience.
What I would change
While this game is amazing in many ways, it is not perfect. If I could, I would certainly make that introduction shorter. I understand that they needed to introduce the story, but an hour is a long time. If you are a child and you wasted your one hour of screen time on the introduction of the game, you might be hesitant to pick it up the next day.
My second complaint would be the controls. While not completely horrible, they are a little strange. To select an item or a field are you have to use the arrows to turn around and be in the exact right position. After a while, you get used to it. But every time I leave the game for a day and pick it back up, I would have to master the controls all over again.
Doraeman: Story of Seasons is an amazing addition to the franchise. It maintained everything fans love while adding an extra flare. It is one of those games you play at night after you have been smashing enemies for three hours in other games. It’s a game you play to relax and have a good time.