I didn’t just play one farming sim at E3 2014. I played two. I made a point of stopping by Natsume’s booth to see Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, the first Harvest Moon game developed internally by the company. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I sure didn’t think Minecraft would be the first thing to come to mind when I started playing.
Yes, you read that right, Minecraft. I’m not saying that as clickbait. One of the first things I noticed upon walking out of my house in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley was that the ground seemed to have a grid texture. It turns out, everything can be terraformed. Dirt can be dug up and placed to adjust the landscape. Bridges can be built, routes created, trees chopped or placed, and more. Natsume wasn’t kidding in the press release when they said you could design your own town with valleys and such. I learned I could dig wells, make more efficient paths to different areas, and more. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort to acquire resources like dirt, wood, stone, and more, you can really shape your world.
I also learned something else quite important. One of the first items a player gets in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is a harvest sprite whistle. One blow, and the player is instantly teleported home from where ever they happened to be on the map. It’s a fantastic addition and, according to Natsume, was implemented so people wouldn’t be afraid to explore.
Actually, the Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley E3 demo was really built for investigating. I was able to choose whether I wanted to play as the male or female avatar, and after leaving the house, could do whatever I liked. I was pleased to see right away that it was simple to bring up the building menu, and could then adjust the landscape to my liking. But even regular activities are much easier.
For example, if you have a tool in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, you will automatically use it when you’re near the applicable area. For example, I walked up to a tree. Since my character, named Claire, had an axe, I just had to press A to chop it down. No tool swapping! When I walked to the farmland, I could press A again to fertilize or water. After entering the barn and chicken coop, I could just press A to pet animals, brush them, and deposit feed in their troughs.
Apparently, as seasons are restored in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, new areas are opened and people discovered. While information about love interests isn’t available yet, I did learn something interesting. You don’t just give items to earn love. You can undertake requests, like in Rune Factory, to help make characters appreciate and love you. Also, Witch, Wizard, Goddess, and God characters will be making a comeback in addition to the sprites.
Honestly, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley‘s E3 2014 demo made a big impression on me. I went from being worried about the game, to perhaps being more excited for this than I am for Story of Seasons. But then, that’s a story for another article.