For years, Bokujou Monogatari games have been about routines. You find a schedule that works for you each season. You figure out a routine that maps out your entire day, leaving time for farming, caring for livestock, socializing, and other activities. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is no different, as I noted when preparing my preview. Yet even within my first three seasons of the game, I see how critical looking ahead can be this time. There’s a sense of development that comes with living a virtual life.
As with most entries in the series, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town begins with trading one kind of life for another. Players create an avatar who decides to move to Olive Town, a small rural village their grandfather helped found with his friends. Unlike other entries in the series, you begin by choosing how your character looks from a number of personalization options. (You pick your gender later, and initially the two base clothing options go by what they offer.) All voices, default stances, hairstyles, and eyes are available for everyone.
Once a person gets to the homestead, you’re faced with the usual dilapidated, abandoned ruins. You don’t even have a house this time around and have to camp out. Over the course of a few days, Mayor Victor helps you settle in. Initially, you have a small space, half invaded by trees and a time-ravaged chicken coop. There’s a relatively small mine nearby. (Literally, as it doesn’t even reach 20 floors.) A wild chicken will roam around, waiting for you to tame it and provide it with a home. There are trees everywhere, and you’re right on the beach. There’s also a broken bridge, and someone who uses the new camera tool could use it to see remains of a barn, a wandering cow, and more land. Wild crops might show up, which can be shipped to unlock new seeds at the store.
Which means setting a routine again. I tilled soil and started planting. (Cucumbers and onions are great early money makers.) I cleared the impromptu forest and plains. I dabbled in early mining, grabbing some ore. Before long, I had my first few makers set up to create things like the bricks, lumber, and ingots that would serve as building blocks for my first home, a repaired coop, a restored bridge, and initial town revitalization project.
And that’s where it seems like, initially, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town gets to someone. Yes, finding a schedule is critical. Personally, my first spring and summer were spent taking things from the makers and refilling them first. (Some ingots, lumber, and threads can take longer to produce than others.) Then, I’d water my fields and harvest, since they were in my initial area nearest the shipping box. After that, I’d head across the bridge to livestock central. (Once I repaired the bridge, I moved the coop next to the barn.) I’d tend animals and let them into the pasture, then put their byproducts in the animal-specific makers near them. From there, I’d head to town to socialize and check in on missions or upgrade requirements. Finally, it’d be back to the farm to check the makers again and perhaps clear away vegetation that returned, cook, or mine.
Sound like a busy day? It definitely is. But there’s also a sense of purpose in these early hours. Even though I definitely saw myself making progress in these earliest seasons, I was still very much a fledgling. “Disposable income” wasn’t a thing until I discovered rogue melons and pineapples near the barn and invested in those seedlings. They’re days filled with potential and progress. Every hurdle cleared offers hints of new carrots on strings. I look at the wild horse near the ancient stable and think, “Soon, buddy. I’m 10 Supple Lumber away. I just really needed that Golden Axe first!” It feels like a game with a lot of milestones and objectives, like farm upgrades, museum upgrades, personal upgrades, and town improvement projects.
It’s still early goings for me in Olive Town. I’m still getting to know folks. I haven’t decided which love interest will win my heart. But three seasons in, I’m getting a feel for things. And it seems like Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is a game designed to keep people busy if they want, even as they get a preview of an eventually busier and richer schedule. There are a lot of projects at my new homestead, and by my first fall I’ve only started to put a dent in my to-do list.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town will come to the Nintendo Switch on March 23, 2021. It is immediately available in Japan.