Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos preview impressions
Image via Natsume

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos Preview Impressions — Over the Moon

Following a preview session with Natsume, Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos looks like a promising new entry.

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is shaping up to be a successful attempt by developer and publisher Natsume to breathe new life into the franchise. I had the pleasure to sit down with the game’s development team to preview The Winds of Anthos during nearly an hour of gameplay, and I was over the moon, to say the least.

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The upcoming Harvest Moon title maintains farming and life sim staples in a beautifully textured world yet sets itself apart from other recent successes in the genre, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, solidifying its standing as a big name in cozy gaming.

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos Preview Impressions — Over the Moon

Lenctenbury Village in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
Image via Natsume

I went into the Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos preview with high hopes as a longtime fan. From start to finish, I wasn’t disappointed. I received the warmest of welcomes from the Natsume team, Graham Markay (Vice President of Operations), Taka Maekawa (Producer), Adam Fitch (Localization Manager and Editor), and our presentation moderator. Soon after, we arrived in Lenctenbury Village to start our day on the farm.

Each of the towns in The Winds of Anthos are perpetually locked in a designated season. And they’re seemingly unaffected by the game’s time mechanic. In Lenctenbury, it’s spring, and the Japanese cherry blossom trees are in full bloom. I’m curious to see how this might affect the growth of seasonal crops in the final game.

At best, it could provide a great incentive to move your farm across the expansive map and secure a plentiful harvest at any time of year. That said, making your way to new settlements drives the nonlinear plot forward. It presents you with new opportunities to reunite and rebuild communities once devastated by a volcanic eruption.

Player cares for raptor in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
Image via Natsume

Animals Aplenty

The Winds of Anthos also features an impressive variety of fan-favorite farm animals. Some are the ones that you might expect to see in a Harvest Moon title, of course. However, an even greater selection of furry friends is on offer than ever before. In addition to franchise staples like the Jersey Cow and Silver Dappled Horse, much more exotic animals roam around, too. These include raptors, snowy owls, and budgies. They’re also available to befriend and put to pasture, opening up new doors to collect and sell materials. Monetary value aside, these critters are adorably designed, and I can’t wait to raise them.

While diverse wildlife isn’t entirely new to the franchise, several species can serve as mounts for faster travel. It’s a feature that has long been requested by the playerbase. What’s more, you can take part in ranked Equestrian Challenges with your trusty steed, which are regular events marked on your calendar. To compete, you’ll saddle up a traditional horse or race to the finish on the back of a zebra, raptor, or camel. Wins will help you qualify for future challenges, with raptors being your fiercest competitors. Personally, I’m partial to the blue-spotted dino variety. Jurassic World, anyone?

Player speaks with marriage candidate, Neil, in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
Image via Natsume

Romance Options and Marriage

Apart from bonding with pets, marriage is perhaps the biggest draw to Harvest Moon. I’m happy to report The Winds of Anthos continues this beloved trend. The game delivers a roster of 10 new bachelors and bachelorettes. Additionally, you now have the option to marry whomever your heart desires. Same-sex romance is a first for the Harvest Moon franchise, and it promises an even brighter future for couples. After meeting several characters during the preview session, I’m decidedly torn between Aolani, the blue-haired Lilikala native, and the leader-type Westley.

Switch Performance

As much as The Winds of Anthos brings to the table, Natsume has optimized the graphics for a smooth image across platforms. I would compare the quality to that of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s a big step up from the previous installment, Harvest Moon: One World. The development team stressed how much effort was put into achieving this feat. Specifically, they cited the game’s performance on Nintendo Switch as a top priority.

I’m willing to bet these efforts won’t go unnoticed, considering a recent X poll showed roughly 60% of players plan to play on the Switch. The end result: A gorgeous landscape brimming with life and color at every corner, on every platform.

Player holds up a fish in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
Image via Natsume

All things considered, Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is primed to deliver a bountiful harvest of fresh and familiar content. While the competition amongst farming and life sims is certainly stiff, The Winds of Anthos has the potential to put Harvest Moon on top, reminding us of its influence as a pioneer in its genre. I can’t wait to meet the full roster of new characters and creatures that call Anthos home. With just a month left until its launch, I’m eager to put my pre-order in.


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Author
Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls earned her degree in English from the College of Central Florida in 2021, and began her career as a freelance writer at Screen Rant the following year. She currently directs her creative efforts toward offering tips and insight on a wide variety of game titles at GameSkinny and N4G Unlocked, a passion she's held close to her heart since adventuring alongside Chikorita in the Johto region of Pokémon Crystal Version as a child. Olivia's all-time favorite franchises are Pokémon and Animal Crossing, but she's generally fond of fantasy RPGs. She's also a budding animanga enthusiast, her personal big three being Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and InuYasha.