John Alas
E3 2017: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Preview
Captures the appeal of the Harvest Moon series.
07.02.17 - 5:14 PM

The farming genre is currently undergoing somewhat of a renaissance and it's fitting that we are getting another title in the series that gave birth to the genre with Harvest Moon: Light of Hope at this year's E3. Natsume had the game playable at their booth and I was able to get hands-on experience with the latest title in the long-running farm-simulator series.

At the beginning of the demo, the protagonist is caught in a storm at sea and ends up washed ashore on an island that has seen better days, shown by several abandoned buildings and a worn down lighthouse. One of the game's main objective is to restore the town and bring prosperity to the island, which is accomplished through the usual Harvest Moon activities, growing crops, and raising livestock in order to revive the economy.

During my time with the game, I got to experience several of the game's features, starting with the standard farming activities. When clearing the land of rocks, pulling out weeds, or chopping down trees, the game automatically equips your character with the proper tool when interacting with the object, making farming more convenient than ever before. Another returning feature is the mutation system for crops, where a harvest has a chance of yielding a different, yet related crop. The example in the demo was a white strawberry growing amongst several standard strawberries I had planted earlier. Livestock also has different variations, such as cows that produce chocolate milk and sheep with cotton candy wool. While I didn't get to see the livestock variants in my playthrough, it will add another layer of depth to the game as the alternate products are treated as completely different items.

Rebuilding the island is a major aspect of gameplay I got to experience with the demo. As the game progresses, there will be buildings that need to be rebuilt with materials from your farm. The building I repaired required several stones and lumber that I acquired from clearing farmland. While the building was not visitable, residents establishing themselves on the island will occupy many of the buildings, increasing the amenities available and the number of characters you can interact with. Seeing the town thrive from the resources the player produces provides a feeling of satisfaction that captures the appeal of the Harvest Moon series.

However, I did encounter a small bug in the demo where the cursor would sometimes disappear in the menu screen. While it was a minor inconvenience that could easily be resolved by exiting and re-entering the menu, it is clear that game is not quite finished and needs some final polishing. The rest of the game played excellently and improves upon the foundation set by earlier titles. While I did not get to try the daily events, I was told that there would be several of them on a daily basis and they would be affected by the day/night cycle.

All in all, Light of Hope should appeal to longtime fans and is shaping up to be a solid entry in the Harvest Moon series. I enjoyed my time with the game and would recommend it to any fan of the farming simulator genre.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC this winter.