I've been through the desert on a horse that definitely had a name but I forgot it
I've been through the desert on a horse that definitely had a name but I forgot it

Marriage Candidates

Sure, this is a controversial and extremely subjective topic, but I think we can probably judge the overall goodness of the bachelors and bachelorettes based on a few key criteria:

  • Are they interesting? Do they have personalities beyond "liking farmers", or are they just a bunch of boring dialogue? Do you actually want to spend time with them, or are you only picking them because they're cute?
  • Are they varied? Is there a diverse range of people, or are they all pretty generic? Are there any limits on who you can woo?
  • Are they numerous? Do you have ten options, or five? Do the DLC candidates add much to the pile?
  • How much can you interact with them? Yes, giving presents and talking are staples of the genre, but can you really get to know them? Do their interactions with you change as you get closer?

Harvest Moon: One World

Marriage

It's not looking great for Harvest Moon: One World off the bat, given that a farmer can only date five of the game's ten candidates. Unlike Story of Seasons, HM:OW is limited by gender - a player can't marry someone of the same sex.

The diversity of the candidates is not great, either - especially for bachelors, who consist of a boring farmer, a vampire-but-not-actually, a child (seriously, wtf), a guy who lives with his mum, and a surfer bro. For bachelorettes, it's a choice between an angry vet, a surfer girl, a princess who stands in the desert all day, a teen with memory loss (again, wtf) and someone who looks like a Pokémon Professor.

Interacting with these cardboard cutouts is... okay. They have stuff going on in their lives, but it almost always revolves around needing a certain food/crop from you, and even after getting close to them, that doesn't change. They'll still be requesting things from you after you're married.

Speaking of marriage - it's closed off behind story walls, so if you ever want to get married, you have to complete the game's tedious, long story, which will likely take quite a while. In the real world, we'd probably want to wait a few years before settling down with someone, but in a farming game, we'd love the option to speed things up a little.

The DLC will add two new characters, but since you can only marry one of them anyway, it's not much of an extra choice, sadly.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

Marriage

One of the widely-accepted criticisms of Story of Seasons' newest game is that the dialogue with townsfolk is... pretty bare. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the marriage candidates, who - despite daily gifts - will usually either tell you that they're hungry, or that the Egg Hunt is coming up. The heart events are quite lovely, but the fact that they show so much more personality in the cutscenes just make their boring everyday dialogue all the more apparent.

However, the diversity is better than Harvest Moon, with your normal combination of "grumpy guy", "peppy waitress", "woman who loves farming a bit too much", and "basic boy with a heart of gold" alongside more interesting characters, like Linh - the Vietnamese florist's daughter - and Laura, a multiracial young lady whose mother works as a lawyer in the big city.

What's more, you can marry all of Story of Seasons' candidates - all ten of them, plus the six in the various DLC packs - since it allows for same-sex marriage. The DLC will also give you the option of past Story of Seasons flings - so if you're particularly missing A New Beginning's Iris or Trio of Towns' Ludus, you can always have them back.

WINNER: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town!

In terms of diversity, variety, and just sheer number of options, Story of Seasons is the clear winner - and although the dialogue is a bit rubbish, that's one of the things XSEED is planning to fix in future patches. Sure, it would be nicer to have this stuff in the base game, but a patch is better than no support at all, at least.


Oh, did we miss the memo about the wall-staring meeting? Sorry, guys
Oh, did we miss the memo about the wall-staring meeting? Sorry, guys

Art Style

Another very subjective one, and this time, we're going to let ourselves be as subjective as we need to be. Which game looks nicer?

Harvest Moon: One World

Art

Harvest Moon's art style has been absolutely atrocious for the past few games, and it's worth noting that One World is, in fact, an improvement. There are moments that it even - dare we say it - looks almost good. The water is quite pretty, the colours are certainly very bright, and, unlike Story of Seasons, the character portraits appear on screen while you're talking to them.

Beyond that, though, it's a mess of ugly textures, huge expanses of nothingness, and samey houses all over the map. Graphical glitches are common, there are a lot of things in the world that seem like they've been rushed, and the game has the overall finish of a cheap mobile game. Needless to say, it won't take much to beat this.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

Art

Story of Seasons may not have the charm of older BokuMono titles - the pastoral earthy tones of A Wonderful Life, the richness of Trio of Towns, or the simple, old-school aesthetic of Harvest Moon DS - but it's not bad.

Unlike Harvest Moon, the colours won't sear your eyeballs - everything's just a little more muted, and there seems to be at least the hint of a colour palette. There's a surprising amount of attention to detail, too - every house and shop is different, and each one has a ton of decor on the surfaces, patterns on fabric, and paintings on the walls. It's all pretty coherent, and nice to look at, even if the townsfolk don't quite live up to the personality of their house interiors.

WINNER: Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town!

Yup, it's another win for Story of Seasons. Honestly, if you're surprised, you have not been reading our coverage. Pioneers of Olive Town is a little empty, but it's quite pretty - it's just a shame that they did away with character portraits, since it's hard to get a sense of emotion and personality from a character who doesn't really emote.


Does someone need to teach these people about the birds and the bees...?
Does someone need to teach these people about the birds and the bees...?

World

As Aladdin once said, "I can show you the world." But if that world is a bit duff, we'd rather just stay at home, thanks. Farming games have often dabbled in the supernatural, the strange, and the downright weird, with areas themed around yetis, witches, and mermaids - do these two live up to that, or are they just tiny towns?

Harvest Moon: One World

World

You would think that a game so confident in its world that it put it in the title would be good, right? Well... yes and no. Harvest Moon: One World certainly has a lot of variety in its locations, from a snowy mountaintop town to a desert oasis, but what they gain in quantity, they lose in quality.

Each one of One World's worlds is lackluster, with a tiny centre of commerce and socialisation surrounded by a vast expanse of nothing. Sometimes it's desert-flavoured nothing, sometimes it's grass-flavoured nothing, sometimes it's grass-but-more-German-flavoured nothing, but it doesn't really change too much except the colour of the ground, and the foods you might have to eat to stay alive.

The houses and shops in the world are all extremely similar, with little aesthetic difference, and though the local crops and trees change from place to place, it just makes gathering resources annoying and slow.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

World

You might be thinking that Story of Seasons can once again dunk on Harvest Moon, but... Story of Seasons goes in the other direction. It's strange to think that the last Story of Seasons game (not counting the remade Friends of Mineral Town or the Doraemon crossover) was Trio of Towns, because Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town focuses on just the one. It seems like backwards progress.

Even though there's plenty to do in Olive Town, Olive Town is pretty much all there is - unless you buy the DLC, in which case, you'll gain access to three more areas. There are the secret Sprite areas, too, but those are mostly themed around one particular activity - mining, fishing, draining a huge ancient lake - and don't offer much in the way of new people or experiences beyond that.

There's a fenced-off area right at the top of Olive Town, but we're not sure what's beyond it yet. It might be the DLC areas, it might be some extra farm area, but we highly doubt it's going to be a whole second town.

WINNER: Harvest Moon: One World!

Almost purely by virtue of just having a world, Harvest Moon gets its first (and probably last) win over Story of Seasons. Olive Town has much more love put into it, but One World is just bigger. Of course, your mileage may vary: perhaps you want a small town, rather than a huge world, but since we're judging these two games on which one has more world, it's not hard to choose a winner.