What I'm Playing - No. 81
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Spoiler warning: In the Radiant Historia section, there are spoilers for the Prologue of the game. It’s roughly the first 3 or 4 hours of the game, so if you want to play it completely blind you shouldn’t read that section.
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (Switch)
This game is a remake of Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, a GBA game from 2003. I didn’t play the original, but from what I’ve heard it’s a faithful remake with updated graphics, a few new characters, and some quality of life improvements. More importantly, it’s super charming, and offers similar gameplay to Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life or Harvest Moon: Magical Melody, and I love that!
One of the new things in this remake is the option to customize your character. It’s pretty limited, but at least you can play as either a male or female character, as well as choose from 1 of 3 skin tones and pick from two character styles. I named my character Worm, as is tradition. Another new thing is a sort of difficulty level settings. There’s Normal Mode, which starts you off with very little resources, or Simple Mode, where you start with extra money, items sell for slightly more, relationships with the townsfolk increase faster, and you even start with turnips already in your field. I picked Normal Mode, but it’s always nice to see options like this that make a game more accesible.
Anyway, in classic farm sim fashion, you inherit a farm from your grandpa and start a new life in a small town to run it. From there, you’re on your own to do as you please. There’s no time limit of any kind, so you can really just expand the farm and work at your own pace. I named my new farm Kirijo Farm, after a Persona 3 character, and got to work. The farm starts out in rough shape in the beginning, covered in weeds, stumps and rocks. In time though, I cleaned up most of it and made a nice fenced in spot in the northwest corner to grow my crops. I’ve seen some profitable harvests in my first year, and I think my farm is really shaping up.
Obviously, there’s more to Mineral Town than just the player’s farm. The townsfolk are all a friendly bunch, and there are various events that trigger between them and the player as your relationship with them improves. In the beginning I tried to talk to most of them daily, but now I mostly just focus on talking to the ones I encounter on my daily routine, stopping at people’s houses on the way to the general store to talk with them and give gifts and whatnot. I’m not sure which of the eligible bachelorettes I’m going to have my character marry yet, but it’ll probably be Elly since she’s easily impressed by common flowers as gifts. She’s been oblivious to Worm’s love confessions so far though.
I’ve really enjoyed my time in Mineral Town so far. The art style is simple but cute, and reminds me of Harvest Moon: Magical Melody. The gameplay loop is a relaxing grind. Each day consists of more or less the same chores, with some planning around when crops will be ready to harvest and which days various shops in town are closed. It’s a good time if you’re into this sort of game!
Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS)
As enjoyable as Friends of Mineral Town is, I began craving an RPG while I was playing it. This game was my pick to scratch that RPG itch, and it’s been amazing so far! It’s an enhanced port of Radiant Historia, which was an original DS game. I’m playing on what it calls Append Mode where the new story content introduced in Perfect Chronology is unlocked after beating the original story, since that’s what the game recommends for people who didn’t play the original game.
The kingdoms of Alistel and Granorg are at war over dwindling natural resources as the world itself is slowly turning to desert. The player takes up the mantle of Stocke, a member of Alistel’s Special Intelligence unit. For his next mission, two able soldiers are put under his command - Raynie and Marco. Before the mission begins, Stocke is given a mysterious book by his boss, Heiss. This book is known as the White Chronicle, and Heiss tells Stocke to hold onto it as a good luck charm.
The mission the group sets out on is supposed to turn the tides of the war in Alistel’s favor. But things quickly go wrong. The intelligence agent they were meant to lead to safety is killed by the enemy along with Marco and Raynie. Stocke is tormented by the deaths of Marco and Raynie, and seriously wounded. All seems lost when he is forced to jump into a river to escape enemy pursuit. Instead, he wakes up in Historia.
Historia is a place that exists outside the flow of time. As the true bearer of the White Chronicle, Stocke can enter this place, and use the Chronicle to rewrite past events. The catch is that he can only altered events that he himself was present for, and only if a node exists there. Nodes are revealed as Stocke is faced with decisions, and allow the player to safely make choices without fearing the consequence, as you know that you can always go back to that point in time and choose the opposite choice should things go wrong. In Historia, Stocke meets strange children named Lippti and Teo, and they explain all of this to him. The two tell Stocke that he is the only one who can guide history to the proper path, and task him with stopping the desertification of the world. With this new power, Stocke first resolves to go back and change things so that Raynie and Marco don’t die. He succeeds, and this time their mission is completed successfully as well. But this is only the beginning…
Naturally, using the White Chronicle to travel through various points in time is a massive part of the gameplay. A choice early in the game causes history to diverge into two timelines, and traversing between the two is required at various points. For instance, Stocke may have no way forward in one timeline, so he must travel to the parallel timeline in order to learn some skill in that one that allows him to proceed in the original timeline, or vice versa. There are interesting side quests too. Many of them are just fetch quests, but what makes them interesting is that you don’t just need to remember where to find the quest objective, but when. A lot of them are only available at certain moments in time, and it’s pretty satisfying finding the right point in time where you can find the item or NPC you need. That same sort of thing makes the areas you travel through interesting as well. You’ll pass through several areas multiple times, but they change depending on what’s going on at that point in time on that particular timeline.
I haven’t talked about it yet, but the battle system in this game is really interesting and fun too. Enemies are placed on a 3x3 grid. Enemies at the front of the grid deal more damage, while those in back deal less damage. A key part of this system is that you can move enemies around the grid using various attack skills. Doing so causes them to slide on the grid until they hit an edge or another enemy, and in either case they’ll stop on that tile. Then, if you have allies attacking immediately after you in the turn order, they can attack the enemies that collided and are currently stacked on the same tile, dealing damage to all enemies in the stack. Planning to stack as many enemies as possible and deal a bunch of damage to them at once is awesome! Supporting that system are the usual RPG staples like healing spells, equipment, level ups, status ailments, and so on. There’s more depth to the battle system than just than brief summary, like the option to exchange a character’s turn with an ally or enemy’s turn in the turn order, allowing you to create longer combos…but I won’t drone on any more about battle system than I already have!
Everything I said about the main story happens during the Prologue. I won’t spoil anything after that point, but it’s good. I really like Stocke as a protagonist, in part because he’s voiced by Xander Mobus who voices the main character in Persona 5, and the supporting cast is really likeable too. The amount of voice acting here is really impressing me too. This is a 3DS game, but nearly all of the main cast’s lines are fully voiced! There have been some pretty emotional moments in the story for me that are really elevated by the music. The medieval fantasy setting with some high tech elements here and there really does it for me too, and the time travel element is super cool. I’m really looking forward to playing the rest of the game, and seeing how it all turns out!