The villagers demand the right to smooches. Harvestella is Square Enix’s upcoming farming life sim, first revealed during the Nintendo Direct Mini in June 2022. It appears to be an intriguing mash-up of Harvest Moon and Final Fantasy. If it’s like other games in the genre, it’ll probably have wholesome interactions, a soothing farming routine, and cute magical creatures.
But that’s the thing. We don’t know if Square will lean into the genre or subvert it. Developers will have to balance the slice-of-life elements with Harvestella’s very JRPG-like “save the world” plot involving the deadliest season, Quietus, and the protagonist’s investigation into the crisis. From the announcement trailer, it appears to lean into JRPG trope elements more than other fantasy sims like Rune Factory 5.
There’s one thing Harvestella needs to get right: Relationships. Romance? Even better.
Square Enix hasn’t even confirmed if Harvestella will have a romance mechanic. The best clue we have is from a Redditor who posted a screenshot from the German Square Enix press site. The translated sentence reads, “You are even able to live together [with townspeople] in your own home.” But living together doesn’t necessarily mean marriage. Meanwhile, the English site only mentions “bonding” with residents through story quests.
Not all is lost without romance, though. Well-written relationships in general can work. Harvestella could include a “support” feature like in Fire Emblem, where bonding with characters activates special abilities. In Three Houses, these support mechanics and storylines also make characters more memorable.
Support-like mechanics would make a lot of sense for Harvestella, since players can form teams. Rune Factory 5 already does something similar, but its mechanics around multi-character fighting are limited. One scene in the Harvestella trailer appears to show two health bars with separate names, possibly indicating one for each party member. However, it’s still unclear how these mechanics will work compared to other titles.
Relationship dynamics can significantly affect how invested players get into a game’s world. After all, farming sims tend to add some levity to the tale with character interactions between the farm-to-market grind. So farming in Harvestella needs to make sense in relation to the overarching plot. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Harvestella launches for PC and Nintendo Switch on November 4, 2022.