Harvest Moon: One World is the latest entry in a long-running franchise of farm simulation/role-playing video games. In One World you create a character who lives in a land where everyone has forgotten what farming is. In fact, in this reality, people don’t remember growing any other edible things other than potatoes. And they’re only remembered because those little brown tubers still grow wild in and around the area.
Fortunately, your character has found and begun reading a special book that’s hundreds of years old and filled with farming secrets. One thing the book notes is that there once was a Harvest Goddess who used to bless the people with bountiful yields. And it’s now the player’s responsibility to begin growing vegetables, fruit and flowers and restore the world by step-by-step reawakening that long-forgotten diety.
Gamers acquire seeds from little sprites called Harvest Wisps. These little creatures are scattered about everywhere and invisible to most people, but they give a variety of seeds to those who spot them. Then it’s up to you to travel to faraway lands, where you’ll look for lush biomes to cultivate, interact with townsfolk, grow crops and take care of animals. After clearing your first farm, you also earn the ability to pack up your farm into a small Expando-Farm cube and unpack it in various areas around the world.
In addition to these farm caretaking tasks, you also perform farming and livestock-raising quests for locals you meet. And you can develop relationships with other characters, get married and even raise a family of farming kiddos. (Same-sex relationships are not currently a part of the game mix.)
More than any of the past Harvest Moon games, One World has more than enough challenges to keep a player hopping and working toward future goals. There are many characters to meet and interact with through cute character dialogue. And relationships steer clear any sensual suggestions or innuendo.
Each new land explored tends to have unique people and animals—such as camels, bears and tigers—to encounter.
And it’s satisfying to unlock new areas, develop a booming set of money-making crops and fulfill quests for new friends. All of those elements combined promote planning and organizational skills.
Reading my summary of the game above, you’ve already encountered the main issue Christian gamers may wonder about regarding this game: it’s worldview.
As mentioned, the story here revolves around the notion of the Harvest Goddess—a narrative detail that suggests something of a polytheistic belief system. But apart from that mention, there’s really nothing here that fleshes out anything deeper in truly spiritual sense. Still, families that are interested in the game will want to talk through this issue with younger players.
Elsewhere, the worst we have to worry about are a few uses of exclamations such as “heck” and “dangit”
No one will call Harvest Moon: One World a compelling game. (It’s experience pales in comparison to the creative aspects of similar Nintendo sim title Animal Crossing: New Horizon, for instance.) But there’s definitely fun to be had here for young gamers looking for crops and animals to tend, duties to organize and sweet virtual relationships to develop—as long as you’re talking through the game’s superficial spiritual concerns.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.