In the hands of developer Natsume, the labyrinthine history of Harvest Moon takes a fresh turn. After 2013’s A New Beginning reboot, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley develops things beyond a simple farm simulation to the rather grander story of placating the Harvest Goddess and restoring peace to the village.
Nonetheless, planting, watering and tending crops, along with caring for animals, are still central; they result in goods to trade with townsfolk, which in turn develops relationships and uncovers specific tasks. Do well at these and a life partner can be won, as well as the prospect of having children. There’s also a nod to the Minecraft set, with The Lost Valley granting terrain sculpting for the first time. Shovel and hoe, flatten or raise farmland to create custom landscapes and more space to grow.
However, these innovations rarely cohere into a whole. The lack of a central village loses the freeform feel of past games. Features that have been aimed at younger players are often too unwieldy to be effective and new abilities feel more like a chore than a joy. While there’s great ambition, the simple charms of Harvest Moon have been lost in its complexity.
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