I think that even during my long history of gaming, the fact that I’ve only ever played one Story of Seasons (what used to be Harvest Moon for you old school fans) game ever is a little bit of a crime. My whole childhood, I’d heard from a countless number of people that Harvest Moon was amazing, but what did I care? I had Animal Crossing, which in my mind was similar enough and ultimately better. I didn’t need another game like that.
Even when I picked up the one game I played later in life, I had a really hard time getting into it. The game was slow, even for my standards (and I’m a very patient person), so it didn’t take me long to set the game aside and never really think much of it again. That is, until, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale was announced. I was completely unfamiliar with the PopoloCrois franchise, but when I saw the trailer, the game looked enchanting enough. While it’s not wholly a Story of Seasons game, and rather a crossover, I liked the idea of combining a farming sim with an RPG to create a fully fleshed out game.
That fairy tale-esque feel
When I got my hands on Return to PopoloCrois, I was immediately charmed. It’s flat out adorable, and while some may not be a huge fan of the simplistic, fairy tale-esque graphics, the game unabashedly presents itself as a children’s storybook and never tries to be anything else, which I commend. Now, that may turn people off to the title, as a game that’s presented as a children’s story is probably going to be aimed at children, but I wouldn’t necessarily say this is true, either. Return to PopoloCrois is the definition of a family-friendly title, but it can be and certainly is entertaining to all.
A nice mix of life sim and RPG
While I haven’t gotten very far into PopoloCrois’ story yet, I’m already finding myself excited to see how it plays out. The characters– at least the main ones– are engaging enough to have me invested even early on, and the fact that they’re so young definitely helps with that. Logically, a 13-year old boy should not be going on grand adventures, but our hero Pietro’s age doesn’t stop him for even a minute. And if nothing else, that’s cute.
I think it’s important to point out that this game takes the RPG elements from the PopoloCrois series and brings them to the forefront, consequently taking Story of Seasons’ farming sim elements and throwing them to the wayside. While I have run into some of the farming parts of the game, they really don’t take importance the way the RPG parts of the game do, and while I don’t think this is a bad thing (the opposite, in fact), I’d hate for anyone to go into this game expecting a farming sim. I really couldn’t tell you much about the farming because there hasn’t been much that I’ve seen, but I can say that it’s easy enough to understand, and plays a practical role in the game.
As for the RPG parts of the game, I’ll give them props. Its story plays out just like your standard RPG, and you’re given quests and tasks that you can choose to carry out or not. You’re also given a roster of characters that create a party for combat, which immediately makes it feel like a classic role-playing game. The combat system is extremely straightforward and easy to grasp, and it harkens back to the early PlayStation days with the grid-based fighting system. And to top it all off, the music is absolutely incredible. Addictive and fitting, if I could give the soundtrack a grade higher than an A+, I would.
Taking note of localization
Lastly, from what I can tell so far, the localization has been done extremely well. The narrative is great, and I can only assume that it’s even better in its original language. The voice acting is actually done extremely well. Because of the great job bringing the game to North America, the interactions throughout the gameplay don’t feel much like a chore, and instead are enjoyable.
While I do plan on finishing this game soon, I’d already say that I can recommend it. Don’t let its whimsy and fantastical elements dissuade you from picking up a copy, because you’ll find yourself quickly getting used to the unique style as it all plays into the game itself. The entirety of the world, including the graphics and music, feel extremely cohesive because of the whimsical qualities within, and enhances the experience immensely.
Oh, and the 3D is absolutely gorgeous!