previews\ Jun 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley Preview: Add a little Minecraft to your farming RPG


As any fan of the series will tell you, Harvest Moon has mostly been consistently good since its debut. Not every game in the series is a winner, but there's a constant degree of entertainment and success to be found as far as this little farming RPG is concerned. Obviously, it'd be foolhardy to say that Harvest Moon has evolved much in recent memory. But it looks like change is definitely coming as Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley looks to expand the series in some nice ways.

Natsume made no bones about the Minecraft influence in the upcoming Harvest Moon title. In fact, the moment you begin treading the land, you distinctly notice the grid-like layout of the map. This is specifically designed to give players a new way to farm and harvest their crops, but it also allows you to build away to your heart's content.

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Lost Valley offers up a myriad tools to develop different environmental structures and features. You can plow the land to add bodies of water, create farmland as you see fit, build bridges, and add wells. These are, of course, just a few of the things you can do, but the fact that customization is such an integral part of this Harvest Moon is telling of just how creative the game will let you be.

In addition to the massive building element, Lost Valley also streamlines a lot of the busywork that's been so prevalent (and tedious) in the past. You'll no longer have to enter different menus just to scour your bag for certain supplies if you want to tend to your crops. If you need to add fertilizer or water to a certain patch of dirt, going up to it and pressing the action button will suffice — you'll automatically perform the next command.

Additionally, once it comes time to harvest, you won't have to walk up to every single square on the grid and put each item in your bag individually. Simply go up to the healthy crops, press a button, and all of your freshly grown product will be put into your bag. Obviously, this mechanic will allow you to enjoy Lost Valley in a more productive manner, letting you actually play more than dealing with pesky menus and repetitive actions.

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Adding to the more intuitive approach on hand here is a new item that allows you to teleport straight to your house no matter where you are. This is certainly a sweet addition as the game's new building features encourage you to explore and get lost in the world of Harvest Moon. By having the ability to teleport back home, you won't have to worry about wandering off, building, and then dealing with a long trek back.

Obviously, the usual round of series tropes will be present in this installment. You can socialize with other characters, collect ingredients for recipes, and find a mate to grow old with. That's great, because those are some of the reasons people play Harvest Moon. It's the addition of robust creation tools that really stands out, though, making Lost Valley seem like a true step forward for this long-running series.

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Considering that Natsume has been developing Lost Valley for roughly two years, it makes sense that the studio wants to keep players engaged in the experience for quite some time. As such, there will be both free and paid DLC released for the game post-launch. This add-on content will be designed to expand the game once you've met and married your match, potentially opening the door for all types of story-driven scenarios.

Honestly, I haven't been this excited for a Harvest Moon game since A Wonderful Life on the GameCube. While a lot of the beloved staples that the series is known for will remain intact, some interesting new tweaks are being implemented, and an impressive world-building element is being added to ensure that Lost Valley truly does take the Harvest Moon name to the next level. The game is coming to the 3DS this fall.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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