Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns Review - Cultural Bonanza
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is a charming farm-life game where players grow crops and tend to animals on their own farm while befriending lively villagers and romancing eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. The latest entry in the real Harvest Moon series plants the player at the crossroads between three towns rich with their own lifestyles, cultures, and festivals.
I should start this review by admitting that -- aside from about 7 hours with Stardew Valley -- I've never played a game like this before. I didn't know what to expect going into it, and I didn't even know if I'd like it. However, I'm happy to report that Trio of Towns eventually won over my heart.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns Review
The game starts by asking you whether you want to play Seedling or Veteran Mode. Being a newcomer, I picked Seedling Mode, though I'm not entirely sure how that has affected my playthrough. If I had to guess, some prices are probably cheaper and festivals are easier to win. Veteran Mode is likely the regular experience most players are looking for.
After picking your difficulty and creating your character, the game thrusts you into an incredibly long intro sequence. Here, you get to meet your family and learn why your character is so intent on moving out to work as a farmer, which you eventually do, meeting your uncle in the western-themed Westown. He lets you stay the night and shows you around town the next day before finally showing you to your farm and setting you loose.
Now that the intro is done, you'll be thrust into a tutorial that spans seasons. You can expect a lot of visits to your house as you're just getting out of bed for the first couple of months. While I did grow annoyed with people popping in so often and delaying my daily routine until 8:00 a.m. or so, I found the spread-out tutorial perfect for slowly getting acclimated to the game.
After your first two weeks, a tropical-themed town called Lulukoko opens up. With it comes the jack-of-all-trades shop where you can upgrade your tools, make farm circles, and renovate your house. This is also when you get your first hammer and learn how to take advantage of Westown's status as an old mining town.
What struck me when I entered Lulukoko for the first time was just how different everything was from Westown. There were wildly different kinds of crops to grow, the meals were exotic, and most importantly, the shop schedules were different. Unlike Westown's regular 10:00 - 18:00 operating hours, Lulukoko would have a siesta in the middle of the day. Shops are open from 8:00 - 10:00 in the morning then from 17:00 to 22:00 in the evening.
Not only does this allow you to get your shopping done at virtually any time of the day, but it really adds to the town's rich culture. As you might imagine, I was similarly pleased when Japanese-themed Tsuyukusa opened in the first week of Summer and I found their shops operating from 8:00 to 16:00.
This total clash of cultures is a refreshing take on the traditional Harvest Moon formula. It's fun growing the vastly different crops that these cultures are so well versed in, and it's incredible experiencing them gradually blend together and seeing what comes out of it.
I remember a mission I did for a cook in Westown not long ago. He requested Sweet Potatoes from Tsuyukusa so he could try out some new ideas he's had. His first experiment didn't turn out too well, but after some pointers from yours truly, he managed to make some delicious Candied Sweet Potatoes. These three different cultures have some truly tight harmony with each other.
Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns Gameplay
Once the intro finally lets you off your leash, you find yourself starting the day bright and early at 6:00 in the morning. With a handful of radish seeds in hand and a rash of fresh tools from your Uncle Frank, you set out to till the ground with your Hoe, plant your radishes, and soak them with your watering can.
After that, you look at your clock and find that there's still plenty of daylight left. Without direction, naturally, you wander into town and find yourself talking with villagers and trying to figure out where you can your various farm supplies. While you're in town you'll also encounter a few select individuals that act a little flirtatious around you.
That flirtatious dialogue isn't just for flavor. That flower next to their name tag denotes them as a bachelor or bachelorette eligible for romance and, eventually, marriage and children and all those other fancy hooks.
Now don't you be getting too ahead of yourself: You won't be putting a ring on it anytime soon. Besides, there's plenty more where that came from in the neighboring towns. Just take the time now to enjoy their stories when you come across them.
After buying a few startup seeds and mingling with the townsfolk, you head back to the farm after a long day, plant your new seeds, water the radishes again, and go to bed.
All of this happened in the span of 5-10 real-time minutes. You wake up the next day and start again. During your time with the game, more layers are gradually added on top of the formula until your daily checklist turns into a monster that only you could so masterfully wrangle.
New Additions to Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns
There are a fair few new features in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (as far as I can tell as a series newbie, anyway). You can now walk your pet into town with you, though you won't be able to enter any buildings with them.
There are also Farm Circle Combos for passive buffs and bonuses on your farm maps, and even the ability to renovate the interior of your house based on town styles and themes. In fact, upgrading your house is required to unlock integral game mechanics like cooking or changing your clothes.
That's right, toss out those old farm rags; you're allowed -- and even encouraged -- to be fashion savvy in the latest installment of the series. Not only can you get clothes tailored in any town, but Tsuyukusa is home to a hairstylist and a guardian spirit willing to change your appearance in exchange for some native crops.
You'll also find part-time jobs available every day at the clerk in Westown. Doing all of them on any given day can provide anywhere between 2,000 and 8,000 extra pocket change. There are more opportunities here than the longstanding Bokujo Monogatari series has ever seen before.
Understand that I booted up this game expecting to dislike it for one reason in particular: the time system. The days go by relatively quickly in these farm-life games and it made me feel like I wouldn't be able to keep up and accomplish everything that I wanted to do. Despite my fears, however, I found myself finishing my chores relatively early in the afternoon -- more often than not. Being introduced to one town at a time definitely helped on this front.
After the first few days of playing, I reflected back on my experiences and realized just how much I had accomplished. It dawned on me then that the days are short not just to kick my butt into gear but to also allow the player to experience the rewards of farming without all the time and patience that real farmers have to deal with.
Overall, I've enjoyed my time with Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns and I can't wait to see what the remainder of the game has in store. I believe Veteran Harvest Moon players will be pleased with the cultural diversity presented here while newcomers can discover the joys of farm-life games thanks to the easy-to-grasp and well-paced tutorial.
If you're a newbie like me, head on over and bookmark our Beginner's Guide for everything you need to know about being successful on the farm. What do you think of the game so far? Leave your comments down below!
Review copy provided by the publisher.