“Don’t try to do everything in one day.” – Misaki, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
A few hours into Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, one of the most striking things about it is just how much stuff there is to do. It’s almost overwhelming at first— it’s easy to try doing everything there is to do with each in-game day, only to run into the reality of limited stamina and time. But as soon as you remember that Story of Seasons isn’t a do-everything-at-once sort of game, and learn to just take each day as it comes and focus on specific little goals, you can start to really appreciate the engrossing nature of the daily life sim and the new innovations that Pioneers of Olive Town brings to the table.
The most significant of these innovations is the whole wilderness theme. As in every Story of Seasons, the game begins with you taking over a rundown old farm, but this time around, “rundown” doesn’t just mean overgrown fields that need a bit of weeding. This is a farm that’s been almost entirely reclaimed by nature; you can see remnants of the old farm in the odd dilapidated barn, but for the most part, it’s untamed land. There isn’t even so much as a farmhouse at first—you spend your first days living in a tent, until you can gather the resources to build a little log cabin.
This means two things: one, unprecedented freedom to develop and customise your farm, and a new means of progression. There are no predetermined fields or allocated building spaces; it’s up to you how to use each tile of flat land, where to establish your barns and coops, and so on. There’s a wealth of decorative elements—fences, pathways, statues, hay bales, and the like—to craft, buy, and unlock, creating plenty of scope to really make your farm your own.
The other side of the wilderness element is the progression system that comes with it. The total area you can potentially use for farming is huge, but it’s not all immediately available. As you explore the wilds, you’ll regularly find blocked pathways to extra sections of the map that you need to unlock—say, by rebuilding a collapsed bridge or clearing out rockslide debris that’s blocking a pathway. The resource cost of getting past these roadblocks gets increasingly hefty, ensuring there’s something to work towards.
The rewards you get for opening those new pathways isn’t just getting more land to use, but is the main way of expanding what you can do with your farm. You have to first find and repair a barn before you can raise livestock, and each type of animal has to first be found in the wild and tamed before they become available to buy. The general store has a basic assortment of seeds at the start of the game, but you’ll unlock a lot more by finding wild crops and shipping them.
This exploration alone is something you can invest most of your playing time into, certainly in the early stages of the game. But there’s also all the rest of the usual Story of Seasons stuff going on: tools to upgrade, money to make, pets to raise, townsfolk to fall in love with, and so on. Again, it’s easy to try to do everything there is to do every day: manage a huge field of crops, talk to every resident every day, tend to all your animals, gather resources for a bunch of different forms of progression, craft all sorts of different items, redesign and beautify your farm, take photos for the local museum, create new outfits for your character …
But it soon becomes apparent that doing everything isn’t really viable, and you lose nothing by putting some tasks aside for a moment (aside from watering crops, perhaps). Instead of being a game of doing all things at all times, it becomes a game about just taking each day as it comes and choosing what’s important for you at any particular moment in time. Once you start playing this way, and start to better appreciate all the little details and ways that the different systems in all come together, you can truly get lost in the wonderful world of Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town launches on March 26, 2021 for Nintendo Switch.