gaming

16 Games Like Harvest Moon

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Nintendo

There is a type of player who isn’t necessarily drawn to entertainment that features stories of action, adventure and high stakes. It’s one of the reasons why slice-of-life anime and literary books are so popular. Sometimes people want to slip into the lives of someone else without being burdened with a swashbuckling adventure.

 

Games like Harvest Moon offer players a low stakes story while still managing to keep them immersed in gameplay. It’s little wonder Harvest Moon has gone on to cultivate legions of fans since it’s release in 1996. While not the first game of its kind, it is considered genre defining by fans of games that feature calming, low-stakes and ambiatic gameplay. Luckily for these kinds of gamers, there is a wealth of games that can scratch that particular itch.

1. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is two parts Harvest Moon and one part Legend of Zelda. While Harvest Moon is laid back, Stardew Valley adds some stakes, requiring players to survive in a wilderness while carving out a life for themselves and others. Much like Harvest Moon, farming still takes center stage but is sometimes punctuated with combat against the creatures of the game’s wilderness. Overall, however, it’s clear developers tore a few pages from Harvest Moon’s playbook.

2. Story of Seasons

Craving a Harvest Moon game but with better graphics and an added element of character customization? Look no further than Story of Seasons. Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS a version for the Nintendo Switch is forthcoming and if you don’t want to wait you can play another version of the game that features characters from the anime Doraemon. Both Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons tasks players with managing a farm and cultivating a community but Story of Seasons allows for a bit more wiggle room and player choice.

3. Summer in Mara

What started as a Kickstarter quickly grew into one of the most anticipated games for the Nintendo Switch. Summer in Mara takes the concept of Harvest Moon but puts it on a tropical island, throws in a dash of richly animated cutscenes and features a cast of interesting characters. On top of the usual farming players fish and explore the depths of the ocean, which gives the game an element of verticality.

4. Farm for Your Life

It says it all in the title. Farm for your Life is a pc game that heavily emphasizes farming, sometimes to the detriment of other elements. However, players familiar with Harvest Moon should have no problems picking this up, at least at the start of the game. At some point it’s revealed that the game’s universe is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and one of the tasks includes fighting off the undead.The way the game goes about revealing this is quite clever.  It’s a bit different from Harvest Moon but a welcome addition to the genre.

5. Ooblets

Ooblets is perhaps the strangest game on this list. It combines gameplay elements from Harvest Moon, Pokemon and Pikmin in an interesting, if not whimsical, title. While farming is an integral part of the game, the vegetables, once harvested, turn into tiny creatures that follow the player around and participate in battles. However, this is no Pokemon rip-off. Although your characters are able to level up, the battle system is not as in-depth as the one found in Pokemon. That’s largely because battles are a small aspect of the game. Customizing your farm, as well as dance parties, take center stage. However, Harvest Moon elements like upgrading your living space and caring for your crops/creatures are also key parts of the gameplay. Ooblets may not be as grounded as Harvest Moon but fans of the latter will enjoy it all the same.

6. Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin

A game that puts the stakes back in farming simulators. Sakuna combines realistic farming mechanics with not-so-realistic battle mechanics. Throughout the game the player must fight monsters who drop items that help make farming easier.

 

One would imagine the juxtaposition of farming and combat aspects make it look like two different games stitched together but somehow it works. There is no mistaking the fact the farming and combat parts occupy the same in-game universe.

 

While Sakuna is definitely a departure from Harvest Moon, much of the spirit is still there. Building your rice farm in Sakuna  is as rewarding as building a Harvest Moon farm, particularly in the latter parts of the game when the difficulty becomes unrelenting.

7. Stranded Sails

Harvest Moon fans who also happen to enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean will almost certainly take a liking to Stranded Sails. Another game that takes place on an island, the player is stranded and has to farm to survive. Exploration is also a key gameplay element as the player must also befriend individuals throughout the island and set up a camp to accommodate them. Unlike Harvest Moon, combat is present in parts of the game, although it isn’t as in-depth as some of the other titles on this list. Instead farming and crafting and building up your relationships are the primary focus. With enough time, those characters will become members of your crew.

8. Staxel

Staxel looks like a Minecraft farming mod. Despite its appearance, however, the game has features found in Harvest Moon, like farming and community building and it allows players to invite other players with tasks. Because of the Minecraft aspect, players are able to construct truly amazing personal living spaces.

9. Farm Folks

Another game that takes cues from Harvest Moon’s laidback gameplay. In Farm Folks, players can do whatever they want, whether that entails farming, livestock raising or cutting down  pesky trees. As the player progresses through the game they meet the inhabitants of the island and unlock memories. As each memory is unlocked, the story is slowly revealed to players, which is an interesting addition to the farming and crafting genre.

10. World's Dawn

The art style of World’s Dawn lends itself to the game’s tone. The game is just as laid back as harvest moon and features a somewhat familiar, although diminished, farming mechanic.The game emphasizes relationships the the player builds with the game’s characters. The player’s primary goal isn’t necessarily to have the biggest and best farm but to revive the town that serves as the game’s locale. Rife with mini-games to keep things fresh, Worlds Dawn is an interesting take on the classic genre.

11. Shepherd's Crossing

There was a time when Shepherd’s Crossing was as large as Harvest Moon but, for whatever reason, it fell by the wayside. While the game doesn’t feature farming as heavily as Harvest Moon, it does require players to build a village until it becomes self-sufficient. To do this, the player is required to cooperate with other villages by creating and trading products. The game gives players a crash-course in very basic economics without beating them over the head with it. Overall, it’s a solid game that deserves to be on this list.

12. Funky Barn

A game as silly as its name, Funky Barn is another game that gives players a lesson in economics by having them run a barn.  Released exclusively on the Wii-U, Funky Barn recreates many of the features found in Harvest Moon and other farming simulators while adding new ones. For example, players are able to assign certain tasks to strange machines. The machines can water crops and sell eggs, which gives the farm a measure of autonomy. The game also features seasons which have an impact on the way the game is played. This is in addition to certain hurdles the player has to periodically contend with as they build up their farms, which include things like alien invasions and other wacky circumstances.

13. Verdant Skies

Verdant Skies takes the elements of Harvest Moon and turns them into an RPG. The player takes the role of a colonist working to establish a town in the midst of a wilderness. To do so, hunting, foraging and farming are your primary tools. If the game’s tasks get to be too burdensome, players can invite three others to help lighten the load.

 

The game’s graphics are reminiscent of old-school Harvest Moon, which is probably what the developers were shooting for. Longtime fans of Harvest Moon will enjoy the nostalgic look, while newcomers will enjoy the updated gameplay and story.

14. Farming Simulator

Although farming is Harvest Moon’s primary task, it isn’t as in-depth as Farming Simulator. In this game you are tasked with managing a medium-sized farm, though, depending on how you play the game, farms could grow to being just shy of industrial-sized. Developers went through great lengths getting the machines to look as realistic as possible and it shows in the final product. Real life farmers probably would have some difficulty finding errors in the design of the machinery the game features, though they might take issue with the ease of which some of the tasks are completed. After all, sowing an entire field probably requires a bit more labor than pushing a few buttons.

 

The simulator offers a crash-course in how best to operate a successful farm. In both Harvest Moon and Farming Simulator, successful players are meticulous, though Farming Simulator might require an extra level of care.

15. The Sims

Another game on this list that manages to overshadow Harvest Moon’s popularity. For years The Sims has been a favorite among players for several different reasons. The game allows players to simulate lives that mirror their own. That coupled with a healthy modder community has made this game a powerhouse in the genre.

 

Most recently, Sims developers have released the Eco Lifestyle expansion, which only makes the game more like Harvest Moon. In the Eco Lifestyle expansion, players are given the chance to make their homes, and eventually communities, more eco friendly with sustainable architecture and community gardens, among other additions.

16. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

This one is a given. This is one of a small handful of games on this list that has managed to surpass the commercial success of Harvest Moon. These two franchises have always been compared to each other and for good reason. The mood and pacing of both games are near-identical and while Harvest Moon’s gameplay isn’t as aimless as Animal Crossing’s, both games have players tackling similar tasks.

 

Farming, trading and building are key components of both games but Harvest Moon features these elements as a means to an end. Also, the other significant difference between the two games is Animal Crossing’s emphasis on online multiplayer gameplay, in which several people can visit a person’s island. Frankly, there is no game on this list closer to Harvest Moon than Animal Crossing.

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