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A green and pleasant land

  • nhubi
  • 05/03/2014 08:25 AM
Disclaimer: I've never played Harvest Moon, I know what it is because I went and researched it, but I've never played it. I believe that makes me a little weird*.

Disclaimer 2: I don't know Sagitar personally, I've played Prophecy and now this game and enjoyed both, (and really want Prophecy to be completed) but this isn't an 'I'm doing a review for a friend thing'. Anyway this is my first review so I'm not sure that would help anyway.

This review is for the first part of World's Dawn. The Spring Season. It's not a demo, more like the first chapter of a four chapter story.

World's Dawn is a quiet, peaceful game, much like the village in which it is set, Sugar Blossom. A place as pretty to look at as its name suggests. I mean look...

It's just so fluffy pretty!

There are no enemies to fight, no evil overlord to slay, just a gentle unravelling mystery to solve, why is the village failing? Inhabitants have left, crops aren't as bountiful and, by all accounts, the weather is fickle and unpredictable - why?

Of course you don't know any of this when you arrive in this little seaside village, led by the somewhat enigmatic merchant trader Paxel, who, it seems, has been visiting this village for years and appears to be universally liked by everyone. He installs you in an abandoned (but not derelict) farmhouse that for reasons that are not explained he has the deed to, and after introducing you to the Mayor leaves you to make your way in this village. To plant crops, mine gemstones, forage, fish, farm livestock, make friends and perhaps, fall in love (with both a villager and the village itself).

This is where some of the fun of this game kicks in, whom you are is up to you. You choose your name, of course, but also your gender and your gender preference for a potential mate. There are six marriage candidates, three of each gender and you can, if you indicate in the opening section that you are open to all possibilities, pursue any of them. I chose to play as a female and after meeting all the potentials sought out another female as my prospective partner, but given the multiple possible permutations of the male/female 6 candidate options, I believe replay value is high here. In addition you don't actually have to pick a partner, as far as I can see. I imagine it will cut down on some of the dynamic and content planned by the developer, but it's not a 'must do'.

The hours of the day tick by automatically, so I'd suggest NOT walking away from the game to make yourself a cuppa, you'll come back and the day will be over and you'll have been warped back to your home for an hour in front of the television before bed. In addition you have a limited amount of energy (EN) to spend during the day, and it is used up in the various activities, planting, fishing, cocktail making, foraging, mining and importantly running. The walking speed is slow which can be a little annoying and dashing uses up that all important EN, so you have to ration it. There is a hot spring to revitalise you once a day back to full EN and of course consuming food/drink does the same. Though this village is very civilised, you can't eat on the run, you have to find a table to sit at before you have a meal. However they are spaced in useful locations like the mine where you're going to want them.

Just what you need to relax those bones after a day of mining.

There are 30 days in this section of the game, though the developer tells me when all the seasons are done you'll just roll around the year so while the time limit is somewhat pressing in this section, it won't be in the finished game. That being said, one of the highlights of the season is a village dance and you'll have to have impressed the partner of your choice sufficiently by that stage that they'll accept your somewhat nervous invitation to attend with you.

You build friendships in the game by gifts, working for the villagers and quests, though I believe there have only been two quests so far, to meet all the residents and to get a remedy for an unwell villager. In addition to the over-arching, what is going on in the village main quest. The meet all the residents one is vital since you get the village primer as the reward which allows you to track your friendship ribbons or love hearts progress with the rest of the inhabitants.

With three hearts, she'll say yes to the dance.

You can find out what the favourite items of the residents are over at the developer's webpage, or you can try and work it out for yourself by listening to their conversations and trying out different things from your inventory and seeing how they react. The choices are somewhat intuitive; a botanist likes plants/flowers, two people who moved from a northern climate are fond of a brew from that region for example.

You can save anywhere, not that that is as vital as it is in a game where you can die, but given the resource management you have to do, if you choose to try and work out what people like you may want to save beforehand so you don't give them something they actively dislike or waste something you can use. Or if you went off an made a cuppa and lost a day, then the save anywhere is helpful too :).

Money is earned either by working for some of the shopkeepers/farmers or more frequently via the sale of your excess inventory, whether that is produce (not a lot at the beginning of the game), gemstones (my preferred option), fish or foraged items. You pop them into a crate on your property and the next morning the cheque is literally in the mailbox. Though given that some of your produce and foraged items are also gifting choices you have to balance the need for money with the friendship growth so you don't run out of either. Gemstones don't appear to be a valued item to anyone so make sure if you go mining you drop them in the crate at the end of each day.

There are a couple of mini-games available, fishing which you will need to do for a certain event as well as saleable item, involves timing when you throw your hook to catch the fish and Lockball, a one-on-one football (soccer) type game which I believe aids in the friendship with a few of the people you play against. Not that I would be able to confirm that since I didn't like that game at all. I found the mechanics of it frustrating and for the couple of times I played it I basically helped the other guy win more than myself so I gave it away. I'm not a big fan of reflex like games though, so if that is your cup of tea I'm sure you'll enjoy it. The developer has put Lockball as a stand-alone on this site so you can try it out and I believe you can import your scores from the stand-alone into World's Dawn to increase your standing, which is a nice touch.

By and large I'd be the one NOT scoring - and standing in the middle of the field like an idiot.

There is also a dancing mini-game but that is really only for an event rather than something you can go back and do again, at least not in the Spring season though there are probably other dances during the course of the year.

The music is soothing and fitting for the game, no triumphal marches or fast-paced action sequences, just gentle lulling melodies. In addition you can buy a music system for your home and CD's from the artists for something else to listen to inside your home. This is one of the many customisable optons you have from the floor and window coverings to the colour of your pet's bowl.

Oh yes, you have a dog! He's adorable and nameable, as are all the animals in the game, chickens, cows, horses etc. He's a talking point when you travel around the village as well as a pointer for you to dig up worms for your fishing needs and other random and very useful items.

Don't all little boys smell like dirt?

Oh and keep your animals happy, well fed and sheltered from the rain and you'll get great rewards.

Yes I named my cow Daisy, so what? The other one is Buttercup. Don't ask about the chickens.

This is overall a very enjoyable, easy-paced game, something to wile away a few hours in a pleasant and green place where the worries of the world can just slide away. Not to say there aren't a couple of things I'd like to see included, like people's names being shown when you speak to them. At the start of the game there are 26 villagers and remembering just who they are, especially when they aren't inside their shops or farms can sometimes get a little confusing. Also if there are going to be more quests in the future, some kind of journal/quest book could be advantageous.

Still I enjoyed my time in Sugar Blossom and I look forward to returning when Summer rolls around. If you like a gentle 'Harvest Moon' type game, I'd suggest you pay a visit to it as well.

*That actually isn't news to me.


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Thanks so much for the review! I truly appreciate you taking the time to offer your thoughts and put them out there for other people to read and reference =)

It was really interesting hearing your opinions on everything from the soundtrack to the festivals to LockBall, and your suggestions will definitely help looking forward to future seasons. The visible character names and some kind of quest journal have both been pretty common requests, so I'll have to figure out the best way to incorporate both features.

Once again, thank you writing this review. I'm happy you enjoyed the season overall!
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