Which farming game is better on Nintendo Switch, Harvest Moon: One World or Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town? Fans of both farming franchises had a variety of reactions to the new games when they released last month. But which game is really worth your while?
As a longtime farming sim fan, I needed to know the answer. I developed a grading rubric to compare the two games, using what I consider to be core game elements that make a farming sim a fun experience for players. There are ten categories, so I’ll give both games a grade for each section, and then we’ll tally it up for an overall score. Yay math!
Please note that these scores are based on the initial game releases, and not any subsequent DLC packs.
Time / In-Game Clock
HM:OW — 2/10 — The clock in Harvest Moon: One World is insanely fast. You have to prioritize your tasks and there is no time for hanging around! Don’t leave your Nintendo Switch unattended without pausing this game.
SoS:PoOt — 8/10 — Ahh, a reasonable clock that moves at a leisurely pace. Time keeps on ticking even when you’re in a building in both games, but the speed of time in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is much less stressful.
HM:OW — 4/10 — The premise is literally that the people don’t know how to grow crops. Yet the local inventor knows how to shrink down an entire farm and move it to another location. Seems questionable (and ridiculous).
SoS:PoOT — 5/10 — Your grandpa leaves you his dilapidated farm, and you have to tame the wild land and restore everything to it’s former glory. Then the Mayor decides you are responsible for improving all local tourism. No pressure.
HM:OW — 5/10 — Harvest Moon limits you to a hetero lifemate in this latest game. There are five male and five female marriage candidates to choose from, each located in a different town and come with an associated back story. To me, the characters look like they are in their late teens or early twenties.
SoS:PoOT — 6/10 — Story of Seasons gets docked points here because the characters look like they are tweens. THEY ARE TOO YOUNG TO GET MARRIED! It creeps me out a lot. I will note that this game has inclusive same sex marriage, which is something that I personally think should be the standard by now…
HM:OW — 4/10 — Each town has approximately one important ‘other’ character who gets an actual name. The rest of the townspeople that you encounter only have vague descriptive names like ‘Easily Excited Man.’ It’s like they didn’t even try to come up with personalities for these additional characters. Not that it matters, you don’t have much free time for chitchat anyway.
SoS:PoOt — 6/10 — All of the townsfolk live in Pioneer Town. That means you don’t have to traverse the map in order to do your neighborly rounds! It’s easy to learn the routines of your favorite characters and figure out where to find them. The dialog is a bit repetitive, but the various families around town are diverse and interesting to get to know.
Farming: Gameplay Loop
HM:OW — 6/10 — Due to the intensity of the clock speed in Harvest Moon: One World, I had to dock some serious points here. However, the game does compensate for the time crunch by making tools easier to use. Your character will automatically choose the right tool to do whatever job you need, so you don’t have to fumble through the menus. The game speed makes the farming chores feel rushed, but it is still possible to get into a rhythm. Sprinklers are unlockable but it takes a long time and many quests with Doc Jr. in order to gain access.
SoS:PoOT — 7/10 — The latest Story of Seasons uses the classic farming formula that players are accustomed to in these types of games. SoS also utilizes a crafting mechanism, which allows for a lot of customization around the farm. Unfortunately, most crafting projects require refined materials that are created in maker machines. These maker machines can only process one item at a time, and take several in-game hours to complete. A true test of patience.
HM:OW — 9/10 — For a world full of people who don’t know how to grow crops, there sure are plenty of seeds lying around. It’s easy to walk around town and find plenty of free seeds to plant. Depending on which type of terrain you plant a seed in, different mutations of the same crop may appear. Seeds can also be planted in all seasons in order to get all of the types. There are hundreds of crop and flower variants to cultivate, and it’s a lot of fun to experiment! The in-game encyclopedia has a Pokedex-like aesthetic that makes collectionists feel compelled to grow every single crop.
SoS:PoOT — 6/10 — The crops found in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town are fairly basic and standard to previous farming games. A few new crops and trees were added to the list, such as zucchini (yum!), but for the most part the crops in this game have not been altered or upgraded much. Snooze.
Animals: On the Farm
HM:OW — 7/10 — The biggest issue with the animals on the farm is that you are very limited in how many you can tend until you upgrade your barn. From the start, you can only have 5 chickens and 3 large animals, such as a horse or cow. The barn upgrade does not happen until you make some serious progress, forcing you to be very selective with your animals during early gameplay. This is extra heart-breaking because certain towns have exotic animal options, such as a camel! Would you trade in your horsey friend for a fancy new camel?? These are the tough choices you’ll have to make. Although, with time so limited in this game, do you really want to have to tend 12 cows? Luckily, your character automatically switches between the brush, the milker, and the pitchfork as needed, to help save time.
SoS:PoOT — 5/10 — Not only is the livestock mostly the same as in previous games (OK they added a goat and a buffalo) but now it’s harder to obtain them because first you have to restore their barns and coops that have fallen into disrepair. As you clear the wild foliage and unlock more areas of your farm, you come across broken down barns and a farm animal wandering around on it’s own. You can’t befriend the animal until you repair the building, which – you guessed it – requires many construction materials that are only made in the horrendeously slow maker machines. It’s a slow start when it comes to ranching in this game. I will admit that I think the Story of Seasons cows and alpacas are really darn cute though!
Animals: In the Wild
HM:OW — 8/10 — The number of different types of wildlife is quite impressive in Harvest Moon: One World. Each town comes with it’s own set of wildlife that is appropriate for the terrain. You can meet different bunnies (including dwarf rabbits!! Eeeee!), wild cats, foxes and even various types of bears! These critters don’t run from you, and you can improve their affection by greeting them each day. When you get a small animal up to maximum affection, you can adopt it as your pet, and it will move into your house! You can only have one pet in your house, but it’s easy to swap your pet with another. Larger wild animals that are at max affection can be moved into the barn, if you have space.
SoS:PoOT — 3/10 — In Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, you are given a camera which allows you to take candid shots and explore the world in a new first-person view. The main reason for the camera is to take photos of the wild animals that you come across. Donating a photo of a new animal to the Pioneer Town Museum will unlock a corresponding animal statue. However, once you donate a photo of a wild animal, there is very little purpose for them. You can’t interact with the wild animals, and they are basically just ‘living decor’ around your farm.
HM:OW — 4/10 — Who has time for festivals?? Before any event can occur, a special fetch quest will need to be fulfilled. Once this is done, the annual event will be added to the calendar. The game does try to remind you when a festival is approaching, but in my hurried gameplay I was only able to attend one: the Fishing Tournament. And I had to forego part of my farming routine in order to get there in time. In my frenzy, I used poor fishing strategy and lost. Tragic.
SoS:PoOT — 6/10 — Story of Seasons gets a couple extra points here because of the variety of festivals in the game. Many of them may be cut-scenes rather than mini games, but they offer dating opportunities and a chance to gain extra hearts with your sweetie. This is in addition to fishing tournaments, pet races, and egg/mushroom hunts, which do offer a bit more action.
HM:OW — 8/10 — Thanks to the many different towns in Harvest Moon: One World, there are all kinds of music styles in the game. Each town has a musical theme that matches the local culture. As someone who loves beachy reggae beats, I had to move my farm to the shores of Halo Halo town so that I could hear the luau music more often!
SoS:PoOT —7/10 — The music in Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is bright and cheery. The tunes change based on the season and location of your character. It’s quite lovely, but nothing remarkable.
HM:OW — 57
SoS:PoOT — 60
The scores are pretty close, if I didn’t mess up my addition. My major complaints about Harvest Moon are the clock speed, festivals, and lack of personality/storyline. My problems with Story of Seasons are the maker machines and the lack of innovation in the latest title. In my opinion, Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town was too focused on fan-service, incorporating major elements from popular games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing which made the game seem like it didn’t have a personality of it’s own. Harvest Moon: One World needs a clock re-tinkering, but at least created interesting new gameplay innovations by adding crop mutations and exotic animals.
Which game is right for you? That depends on how you like to play a farming sim. If you like speed running and cultivating a variety of different types of crops, you might love HM:OW! If you need a more leisurely pace and deeper storyline, you might prefer SoS:PoOT. What kind of farmer are YOU?
If you’re curious to try either one of these games but don’t want to commit, you should consider RENTING the game from GameFly! I’m a long time customer and I highly recommend their service. Plus, ya know, GameFly has a free trial. 😜