Romance mechanics in games can be an opportunity to connect with characters you’ve spent a substantial amount of your life with. Even though they’re virtual people, spending 30+ hours in a game might mean you start to care about them, in a way, and want to root for their happiness. Life sims, particularly ones with farming elements like Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, often incorporate that element. Harvestella is no exception, as it ensures there is an opportunity for romance with an array of love interests who both can and can’t fight alongside you. How it tackles it, however, makes it stand out. While you do need to be patient and can’t immediately start dating and marrying the characters you love, the approach does mean that it feels like your avatar and the other option actually have a history and are connecting when things happen.
Editor’s Note: While there will be mention of how relationships with romance options in Harvestella work, there will be no spoilers for anyone’s stories or screenshots with spoilers.
To start, getting together with people doesn’t feel like it is a chore to check off a daily to-do list. Rather, it’s something that develops as you play. In the case of Aria, progression is gated off by story progress. You get a new crystal filled in the chart with every major chapter completed. Here’s a quick Harvestella guide to romance to help anyone wondering how to find love and a relationship in the game. Sit back and let it happen.
It really is that simple and, the joy of it is, it makes everything feel more natural. Wooing a love interest in Harvestella doesn’t mean making a stockpile of mayonnaise and chucking one into their arms while screaming, “Romance!” (Though I mean, if that ain’t love, then I don’t know what love is.) Sure, some charater quests that open up as you advance the story can involve bringing some items to people. Heine could use some silver ores, for example, and Cres will ask for pink aloe. But these are never random requests. They make sense over the course of their character development.
Likewise, the way it is handled means you can’t turn to a guide for Harvestella romance and immediately win a love interest over the course of a single season. Don’t worry about forcing folks into your party if they don’t fit your gameplay strategy. They aren’t going to hate you if you bench them after recruiting them. There’s no need to waste time talking to them every day. Just do their quests when they appear. Also, it can be physically impossible to get through certain storylines until you unlock certain locations or hit certain milestones. You can go through Asyl’s story rather easily, establishing who he is, getting closer as you see what he’s going through as he deals with a substantial loss. Even though you meet Istina in the same chapter, her storyline will remain grayed out and unable to be continued until you visit the Holy Capital Argene for the first time.
Not to mention these extra side stories honestly aren’t going to be hot and heavy love affairs. Rather, you’re getting to know who they are as people better. You’re watching them deal with major life events and supporting them through it. Personally, I’m a little disappointed that both Asyl and Heine’s involve grieving and coming to terms with losing someone else. (One backstory like that I can understand, but two?) Still, it feels like these extra side quests are designed to facilitate the player falling in love with them, while also providing evidence for why that Harvestella romance option would feel enough trust and affection to consider becoming your partner.
All this taking it slow also means that love doesn’t come until you finish the whole “saving the world” thing. You’ll be able to pick who your life partner will be. The mayor will give you a recipe to make a Promise Ring. Juno will talk with you and let you pick who you want to spend the rest of your virtual life with. If you don’t put in the time to get to know someone and support them throughout their events, their name won’t appear in the list of people you can propose to. Juno will send a letter off, and you’ll get a scene where you ask them to be your life partner.
Your priorities are in order in Harvestella. You do what needs to be done to make the world a better place. Now, you can be together with a character who was by your side for the important moments. And, because of the way things are handled, you get to stand by them when they need you too.
Harvestella is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC.