What is Harvest Moon: Skytree Village?
Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is a farming-come-life-sim game that puts you in the shoes of a new farmer in a desolate desert land. Part of the long running Harvest Moon series, it's up to you to restore the titular Skytree Village to its former glory in the only way you know how - by planting loads of crops, and tending to as many animals as you can manage, as you set out to bring fertility back to the farmland, and encourage the villagers to come back home. With the Harvest Goddess watching over you, you'll certainly have your work cut out, as you tend to your crops, milk cows and help villagers out along the way.
How do you play Harvest Moon: Skytree Village?
Playing as either a boy or a girl, Harvest Moon is a game about both farming, and socialising. Each morning, you'll be out tilling the land, planting seeds, and watering your crops in a simplified take on farming, before harvesting the finished produce a few days later and trudging it down to the market to sell. You can also raise a number of animals, with their care being handled in a similarly simplified and quick-fire manner - a quick brush, a spot of shearing, milking and egg-gathering, and a bowl of animal feed is all it takes to ensure your animals stay happy and healthy, rewarding you with produce you can flog for a pretty penny, or cook into something tasty.
The more you farm, the more your village will begin to grow, as you slowly restore the land to its original glory. With things going better, villagers will start to move back in, with all sorts of events (and plenty of drama) happening on a daily basis to keep you busy. Requests from the locals generally revolve around fetching them a particular item, be it a cabbage from your farm, a particular fish from the river or some fresh milk from your cows, and completing their quests will improve your relationship with them, in turn granting you access to special scenes, where you learn more about them. In a similar vein to Minecraft, Skytree Village lets you raise and lower the terrain in blocks, to create your own farm landscape - and as some crops produce better quality produce or rarer varieties under different conditions, it's in your interest to play around a little. You can also plonk down 'Insta-Buildings' in and around your little farm, adding barns, chicken coops and windmills to your sprawling fields.
How easy is Harvest Moon: Skytree Village to pick up and play?
With nothing in the way of time limits, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is a rather easy going game, where you're largely left to your own devices to farm, fish and form friendships as you work your way through the game's story. With in-game time only passing when you're actually playing the game, there's no onus on you to play at specific times of day, or check in daily to keep your plants watered either. Where past entries in the series had some degree of time management involved, as you could only grow seeds in their relevant seasons (and planting them too close to the change over would see them die), Skytree Village instead has crops that can be planted year round, regardless of the current conditions, so there's no need to keep one eye on the calendar any more. About the only way to fail is if you kill your crops by forgetting to water them, or perhaps fail to feed your animals for a few days and make them sick.
For the youngest of players, a reading ability is required. Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is entirely unvoiced, relying solely on text to get things across, be they tutorials, story scenes or requests from villagers. The requests in particular are important to understand, as they'll tell you what items the character in question wants and how many - information which is key to completing the request. Several characters also talk with faux French or English accents, which can lead to some awkwardly spelled (or phrased) sentences.
- "Astounding! Dashed different, eh, just on grounds of color? Most compelling! You must tell me more some time, old chap!"
- "Spring-a-doodle-doo! All the fuzzy-wuzzy animals get frisky and frolicky!"
- "So, whatever-your-name-is, am I, like, even in the right PLACE? Is THIS the Harvest Goddess' land?"
As with all the Harvest Moon games, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is pretty much as family friendly as they come - it's a brightly coloured, happy-go-lucky game, with nothing in the way of violence, bad language or sex whatsoever. About as close as it comes in terms of sexual content is the fact that the main character can get married and have children, although it remains entirely family-friendly and platonic, without the merest whiff of sexual overtones to it.
It's also important to note that there's nothing like a slaughterhouse, or anything similar in Harvest Moon - animals instead will simply provide eggs, wool and milk on a regular basis. However, that's not to say that they're immortal - all the animals you raise have a finite in-game life span (usually years), which may upset some children.