Title: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4
Category: Role-Playing, Simulation
Release Date: May 29, 2018 for Switch/Playstation 4 in NA; November 14, 2017 for PC
How we got the game: Bought it for the Switch
Harvest Moon has been one of my favorite franchises since I was introduced to Friends of Mineral Town for the GameBoy Advance way back when I was in… I dunno, the beginning of high school? It was a long time ago, let’s just say that. I feel as if the older titles in the franchise better capture what Harvest Moon is supposed to be about, and I think that Light of Hope recaptured that.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope operates in a similar way to the majority of the other games in the franchise. As one of the main objectives of the game, you spend much of your time cultivating a farm, growing crops and raising livestock. Fishing and mining are also two activities that you do in order to help improve both your farm and the island itself.
The controls for Light of Hope are, actually, fairly simple. With the Switch controls set up the way I had them, usually in the Switch’s handheld mode, you move your character with the left analog stick and the A button on the right Joy-Con was your main action button.
A cursor — usually a little leaf or a green square if you were by a farming spot — showed you where you could make an action. The green leaf was used basically to indicate who you could talk to, while a green square would indicate what tool you could use. There is no switching tools around in this game. Instead, the game is smart enough to know what tool you need based on what you were facing. If there’s a tree in front of you, you’ll automatically use the ax to cut it down. You’ll swing your hammer if you meet a stone. And if you were facing a spot where you can grow a crop? Just stand there and hit A as your character automatically tills the spot, plants your preferred crop, water the spot, and toss on some fertilizer.
Of course, sometimes this hiccuped a little (yes, I know I patted and brushed my cow already, can you please just automatically milk it now?), such as if you suddenly moved your character and they’re tilling the next spot of grass instead of watering the potatoes, but it works well enough for me.
While you’re improving your farm and completing the story, you’ll also be making friends and wooing potential spouses, as you do in most Harvest Moon games. Talking and giving gifts to people improve your friendships, potentially unlocking further activities or pieces of the story. Many of the NPCs are in charge of shops on the island and you can sell products that you grow on the farm directly to them rather than stuffing them in the shipping bin. Some stores will pay you more for certain goods — such as the restaurant for fish or the flower shop for, well, flowers — than you would receive when shipping them.
All in all, the game play and controls are pretty smooth on the Nintendo Switch.
Light of Hope’s graphics were rather charming. Full-bodied sprites moved fluidly across the Nintendo Switch screen, and the animated expressions while characters were speaking to each other definitely amused me!
I almost always enjoy the music in Harvest Moon games, and Light of Hope was no exception. The seasonal music is always relaxing, especially in winter. Most of the tunes are updated versions of music from past Harvest Moon games, which just makes me enjoy them all the more.
The protagonist of the game washes ashore a mostly-deserted Beacon Island in the middle of a storm. After being rescued by a couple of the last remaining inhabitants of the island, the protagonist decides to stick around and help draw back citizens to the island by farming and rebuilding the shops.
Beacon Island is home to a majestic lighthouse whose eternal light has vanished, the catalyst as to why many people abandoned the island. The protagonist vows to figure out why the lighthouse went out and to restore it once again.
The story reminds me of a cross between Animal Parade and Sunshine Islands. Restoring the lighthouse’s light comes down to finding the the lighthouse tablets. The game itself pretty much carries you through the story, so there is no literal searching for the tablets. NPCs will guide you through the chapters, giving you hints (or just outright telling you) what items you need in order to proceed. The story can take as little as 10 hours as long as you are able to find and/or save the necessary items you’ll need in order to find the stone tablets.
After the tablets are replaced in the lighthouse and the light is restored, the story ends. The protagonist is now able to continue raising their farm, expanding their house in case they want to marry an eligible candidate, as well as unlock special livestock and crop seeds.
The story itself isn’t much, but the many interactions between the player and the NPCs were cute. The only thing I found odd about the story was at certain parts where NPCs would “wait” in an area for the player to return with specific items to help move the story along, even if it took the player a couple of seasons to find the items.
Most Harvest Moon games have plenty of replay value if one considers the different spouses one can woo and the multitude of ways one can arrange their farm. There are three save files per profile on the Switch, so if you’re the type to try to marry every potential spouse, go for it. Light of Hope also has multiple farms on the island as well, allowing you to experiment with different plants and crops.
It’s a charming, relaxing game that has plenty of potential for multiple play-throughs.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope gets…
4 out of 5 lives.