Harvestella review

Reviewing Square Enix’s new release


Kathleen Capistrano, Staff Writer

Harvestella is a brand-new single-player game released by Square Enix on November 4th, 2022. It is for the Nintendo Switch and Windows platforms and is currently priced at $60.00 USD for both platforms.

In the game, players take on the role of an amnesiac who wakes up in a rural village during a dangerous phenomenon known as Quietus. The world is governed by Seaslight, which are crystals embedded into the ground that control the four seasons.

Normally, Square Enix is known for its JRPGs (Japanese Role-playing Games) such as the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, and the Kingdom Hearts series.

Harvestella character customization. (Screenshot by K. Capistrano)

JRPGs have been a classic genre among video games for ages. JRPGs typically include (but are not limited to) character stories, detailed world-building, complex storylines, and my personal favorite, party-based systems.

And to my surprise, Harvestella introduces a new farming mechanic alongside their typical JRPG action features. This game is basically Square Enix’s “debut” into the popular, cozy farming simulator trend.

To be totally honest, it’s a great game. However, it has one major, glaring flaw.

Example of Harvestella cut screen and graphics. (Screenshot by K. Capistrano)

Harvestella tries to be a jack of all trades but ends up being a master of only one. Despite being advertised as a farming simulator and action RPG in one, I found the farming aspect extremely lacking.

Delving into dungeons is the main aspect of the game, and farming is more of a second thought or something to do when you finish all your quests. 

You can get by with farming the absolute bare minimum (which is what I did), but you cannot progress the story in any way without fighting. Thankfully, Harvestella’s combat mechanics are enjoyable, adopting the classic skill-point system. There are twelve available classes in the game; two of which are hidden behind “secret” quests.

Harvestella encyclopedia of all enemies monsters. (Screenshot by K. Capistrano)

After completing the prologue, which, as always, is a tutorial in disguise, you are introduced to the world of Harvestella which features several thriving towns, biomes, diverse NPCs, and a wide array of enemies to beat. You have total freedom to explore and do whatever you like, whether it is farming, mining, or progressing the story. 

Given you have enough stamina to, at least.

Both time and stamina were my biggest obstacles in completing this game. Every single action in the game takes up a fixed amount of stamina, which you cannot recover any other way except for cooking and eating, which still requires time, effort, and stamina to do.

On the other hand, in Harvestella, one minute in real life equals one whole hour in the game. This means there are only about 18 minutes in a single day, making it so you have to precisely plan out exactly what you want to do each day if you are looking to complete the game in a timely manner.

Harvestella snippet from Nintendo switch demo announcement trailer. (Screenshot by K. Capistrano)

For me, Harvestella’s saving grace is its beautiful storytelling and extremely well-thought-out characters. Progressing through the game, you can tell how the characters are slowly opening up and getting more comfortable with the player.

The storyline alone was what kept me hooked, with each chapter compelling me to complete the next.

Not to mention, the graphics are also stunning. The overall vibe and aesthetic of each character, town, and setting are all cohesive and aesthetically pleasing. Each area is unique and distinct, and nothing feels too bland or too overwhelming.

Harvestella class options. (Screenshot by K. Capistrano)

The game’s ending is phenomenal; being both emotional and mind-blowing. The game throws in a number of tiny details in the beginning which had seemed unimportant until the very end, where everything was revealed. Even the smallest detail could be a huge revelation later on.

And yes, while I found the farming aspect scarce, everything else about the game pushed it further up my favorite games list. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to experience Harvestella’s twists and turns, and I will definitely be keeping this game in the back of my mind for a long time.

I highly recommend this game to those who love Final Fantasy, Rune Factory, or those who are just interested in a new story.