Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town has a steep learning curve worth exploring.
I’ll admit, right out the gate, I’m a bit of an Animal Crossing main when it comes to social simulation and village management games. So I was a little skeptical when given the opportunity to play through Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
While the intro is very cute, the amount of options it gives you is surprisingly limited for a game in 2020. I had two male and two female characters to choose from and you can’t alter their hair or anything else beyond skin color. The options menu only presents you with a giant menu screen that only gives you the option to change the game’s language.
Going in I was given a story about how my grandpa left me a farm in his will and I decided to go and live there. It was quick and dropped me into the game pretty fast. From there I’m dropped headfirst into the game. What really surprised me was that there was no tutorial for the game. I left my home and just had a massive field of weeds, sticks and rocks to clean up but no real idea what I was doing it for.
I tried clearing the field but forgot the game has an accelerated time structure and ended up having to go to bed.
In the virtual day two of the game, I decided to check out the village. It was a bit bizarre as every character I met was incredibly quick to throw their life story at me. Talk to one person for the first time and she immediately tells you about her sick daughter. Another person can’t wait to tell you they’re writing a book. Another person welcomes you to their store by telling you they’re thinking of quitting as they can’t take the pressure of working there. It’s… intense.
Eventually though, as time went on, I learned the mechanics of the game. That was thanks in part to an actual in-game library that has books you can read on what to do. The farming mechanics reminded me a lot of Stardew Valley but the relationship system is a lot more straight forward. Say something nice to someone, it builds friendship. Be mean, it doesn’t. Say nothing, nothing happens. Simple. And buying animals was kind of nice. I didn’t get to really experiment too heavily with it but I love the aesthetic look of the game’s animals even if they don’t necessarily make sense, like Coffee Calf below.
All in all, Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is about the chillest, low stakes game you are going to find outside of Animal Crossing and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just be prepared for a very steep learning curve if you’ve never played a game like this before. But once you get the ball rolling, it stays rolling.