Hoedown Throwdown: One World versus Pioneers of Olive Town

 If you're in North America and like farming simulation games, you're probably aware that two titles came out this month for the Nintendo Switch. But, if you aren't an avid player of the genre, you may be confused as to which one to try. Well, I'm going to help you with that.

The Harvest Moon series people knew from years ago is not the current one. Natsume, the company in charge of localization, kept the name out of spite when Marvelous decided to go with a different company to bring it to North America in approximately 2015. So, anything with the name Story of Seasons in front of it is actually what people used to know as Harvest Moon. This is important for people to grasp, as current day Harvest Moon is not indicative of the way the games used to be.


Tending to the crops in Harvest Moon: One World.

Harvest Moon: One World is a barren, muddy palette of a game. Everything is bland. The character design is uninspired, the areas (even those in different climates) are virtually the same. There is slow down at points when you walk, but it isn't too bad because there's not much in the game to render. You can walk for virtual in-game hours and not see anything too much of interest (slowly losing stamina while you do). The story relies on the character saving the goddess (a played-out plot).

The gardens in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town always has something going on. There are no winding roads to traverse between sections. The slowdown on the first section of your farm is significant and even at points alarming, but frame drops are generally confined to there. While you help awaken a goddess, your main goal is to make the town a better place. Players don't lose stamina when they walk. The payoff to mining, cooking, fishing, raising animals, and all the normal activities in this game feel rewarding where One World felt meh or like a drag. There are little touches in PoOT (like better indicators for things like the watering can) that One World would benefit from.

The snowy town in Harvest Moon: One World.
All towns are basically a cluster of similar buildings.

One World has some unique concepts that Pioneers of Olive Town doesn't. There are multiple regions with different climates. There is a huge crop variety and animals never seen in the series (like reindeer). You can move your farm to multiple locations after you meet requirements. However, no matter the climate everything is similar, the crop variation is mostly different colors, and finding the exact seeds you need for a quest (while they are free and the general location is shown on a lackluster map) can be a huge pain. There were also no festivals that I saw and time moves so fast, you can lose half your day just walking around and finding seeds instead of planting or caring for animals (there is limited fast travel, but it is only to a few select locations). A final negative note is not being able to decide where your crops will go; you can only plant crops where the squares already exist.

Walking around Olive Town.
You can see how much character is in each building.
They all have their own feel.

Pioneers of Olive Town keeps your farm in one place, but it is divided into multiple sections you can unlock (you can decide where on the farm to plant crops). There are mutated crops, but you have to work for them instead of them being handed to you by random sprites. Olive Town is a much more colorful place, and there are a lot of things to do to keep your farm running and help the villagers. You don't automatically take every quest like you do in One World, you can decide what you deal with when and rewards are more significant (villagers change requests daily, though). You can forage for a greater variety of things. Festivals, while not all top notch, exist. The sprites feel less present (but more useful) as the game progresses than in One World.

Let's talk glitches: One World had a couple significant ones just in the handful of hours I played it. I had a cutscene that drained my stamina and worsened my condition (which should have fixed itself with sleep), but even sleeping for three days didn't restore my condition to normal... increasing my stamina depletion exponentially. A character would never leave her house to receive quest items, and you couldn't just knock on her door to go inside. Going to different areas without preparation, while not a glitch, can also deplete your stamina with the extreme weather conditions (you are penalized for walking into them the first time). In Pioneers of Olive Town, the only glitches I have experienced are graphical ones.

Pioneers of Olive Town has one major flaw for me besides the slowdown on the first section of the farm: The makers. There is a brick maker, a lumber maker, a mayonnaise maker, a cloth maker, a thread maker, a condiment maker, a cheese maker, powder maker, honey maker, and more. And they all need space on your farm. Some people won't care about that, but I don't like the industrialized feel of my farm with all the makers going, though they are useful and/or help you make money.

Same-sex marriage is possible in PoOT but not in One World. The character customization and clothing options are also better.

Both games have extra content to buy, but One World is holding the strongest tools in the game hostage behind a paywall.


Basically, if you own a Nintendo Switch and want to play a new farming game, definitely go with Pioneers of Olive Town. There's always something to fix or someone to help, and there always seems to be a goal just on the horizon. One World isn't worth it, especially at the price. If you own a system other than the Nintendo Switch, stick to Stardew Valley.

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