Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Publisher: Marvelous Europe
Genre(s): RPG, Lifestyle, Simulation, Farming
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 26/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Escaping the busyness of urban life, you begin Pioneers of Olive Town by packing your bags and travelling to your grandfather’s dilapidated farmland. There are locals to meet, secrets to discover and crops to grow. It’s a tried and tested formula in the farm simulation genre but should you move to Olive Town? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Welcome to Olive Town
After a few choices of character customisation, I arrived at Olive Town and was met by the Mayor who welcomed me to the community, introduced the locals and let me know of his big plans for the future of the town: the desire for an influx of tourists. It just so happens that I had been chosen to play a big part in the Mayor’s grand plans. My dreams of a quiet rural life were not exactly what I imagined as I was quickly drawn attention to the list of village requests in the town hall.
Whilst I could farm, mine and produce goods for a healthy monetary profit to spend in the variety of stores, I could also donate some of these materials to improve the town’s infrastructure and general appeal. My materials have gone towards the construction of a new store and a fresh refurbishment to the main pathways. Will you focus on initially building up your profits or prioritise helping the locals? That’s just one of the choices that will arise in the self-guided gameplay of Pioneers of Olive Town.
Fruits (and vegetables) of my Labour
First arriving at the plot of farmland that would quickly become my home, I was greeted by a humble tent, a bridge and a coop broken beyond repair. Equipped with a tool bag that helpfully removes unused equipment from the main inventory, I quickly got to work at tilling a small section of soil and growing some basic vegetables. After a few days of watering, the fruits (or should I say vegetables) of my labour were ready to be sold so by placing them in a special chest next to my home, I was awarded a generous amount of coins. In fact, after just a few days of axing, bashing and scything, the overgrown farmland had some sort of order to the layout and I had become the proud owner of a proper wooden lodge and coop.
The controls for performing these actions were incredibly easy to grasp with several small features which made a positive difference to the gameplay. For example, the watering can has a limited number of uses before it needs refilling at the well. If I watered a tile of soil without any seeds in place then this action wouldn’t be deducted by the set number of watering turns allowed. It seems like such a small feature but the attention to detail should be mentioned. And I could list a wealth of other small additions like this that have been created to aid the player!
After caring for crops, I shifted my attention to livestock. I found a wild chicken and took ownership by moving him to the repaired coop. I named this chicken “Kevin” as I was initially bemused by the loading screens of the game. On my first launch of the game, the loading screen showed an image of a chicken with the one-word caption of “Kevin”. After some reading of other reviewers’ early reactions to the game, it seems to me that snaps taken and shared by other players via the in-game camera make up the loading screens which is a feature I greatly enjoyed, adding a variety and even anticipation of to what would arise on the initially lengthy loading screens (but more on that later).
With a daily routine of keeping my livestock well-fed and my crops well-watered, I had earnt a modest income so it was time to venture out of my small corner of Olive Town and meet the locals.
Meet the Locals
There are around 25 residents of Olive Town; all of whom were happy to talk to me. It appears as if there was a particularly good deal on combined retail and residential properties in this town as all the residents share their home with a shop of some form or other. From the general store stocking seeds and other discovered materials to more specific-outlets selling goods like flowers or restaurant food. Dialogue in Olive Town was largely focused on the seasonal events of the game with residents either talking about an upcoming event, an event occurring or an event that happened previously.
Twice or so a season, I watched a special cinematic or played a minigame. These minigames provided some of my best experiences. Without spoiling too many of the events, I did not expect to be racing one of my dogs. (Yes, you can buy and pet canines in Olive Town!) That being said, I was slightly let down when one of the first events, the egg hunt, was solely cinematic.
Pioneers of Olive Town also provides relationship options and so far I’ve been attempting to romance Laura, Olive Town’s tour guide. By visiting her daily and providing gifts, her heart counter has been incrementally increasing. After weeks of gifting flowers, I did find it funny when one of her dialogue responses was “What’re you doing here?“. Although humorous, it did leave me wanting a little bit more versatility and adaptability to conversation. I’d have liked it if my character had dialogue options but unfortunately, the only communication is via gesture.
Maker or Breaker
Perhaps the strangest feature of this Story of Seasons game is the use of “makers”. These are Minecraft furnace-like contraptions that take up four tiles of your farm and must be used to craft specific items. In my first few weeks of playing, I’d crafted enough makers – from lumber to mayonnaise – that I had to dedicate the north portion of my farm to these contraptions. I completely understand why a furnace might be needed to process ore but when the ores can only be processed one item at a time, it baffles me as to why the game included these machines.
After all, so many of the general farm-life features have a perfect refinement to them that the makers seem completely out of place. They are also very unpredictable. To make lumber, I need to use a maker but to produce wooden paths, I can do this directly from my inventory. In my eyes, the makers only serve to slow down the player, rather than assist.
Speaking of slowing down the player, the loading screens in Pioneers of Olive Town do exactly the same. Initially visiting areas on each boot-up of the game, loading screens took about twenty seconds to load in areas for the first time. The load times massively reduce after first-visiting the locations on each gameplay session so it ultimately isn’t too much of a nuisance when playing longer sessions, but those wanting to quickly check in on the farm in a short break from real-life may be disappointed.
Performance-wise, the game was generally stable with a few frame-drops when quickly running from one end of my farm to another or when all the townsfolk congregate on special occasions. Ultimately, I still think the Switch is a great platform to play Story of Seasons on. I greatly enjoyed growing my farm whilst watching television or listening to a podcast. Playing the game in the evening was also enjoyable and the soundtrack had a slight Western flair, suitable for the “pioneer” nature of the game’s title.
Worth Moving For?
Pioneers of Olive Town uses a tried-and-tested formula; a formula of which the developer has historically shaped and, appropriately, pioneered the genre to what it is today. Whilst the latest Story of Seasons doesn’t add any ground-breaking features in both design and gameplay, Pioneers of Olive Town ultimately has an incredibly fun gameplay loop that keeps bringing me back for more!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Pioneers of Olive Town for £44.99 on the Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.