Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading.
In this explanatory review, we’re covering Harvest Moon: Winds of Anthos by developer Natsume:
Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos: (The Explanation)
The Harvest Moon franchise by Natsume stems back many years and has a rather awkward history. Longtime fans of the series know it all too well and many had left the series behind in support of the original developers who went on to create the Story of Seasons series. It is no word of a lie that the later instalments in the Harvest Moon series have had trouble swaying the hearts and the minds of former fans but the newest entry, Harvest Moon: Winds of Anthos may just be what reunites them with the series once again.
Harvest Moon: The Winds Of Anthos is a third-person adventure and farming simulation game. Previous entries in the series were predominantly portrayed from a “Top-Down” perspective but this new game features a free moving camera that can be angled behind the protagonist as well as above to facilitate planting seeds and tending crops, as well as other activities. The camera can then be returned to behind the protagonist at any time so you can freely explore the world of Anthos.
As for the game’s story, Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos takes place in the land of Anthos which was once a quaint and peaceful place. One day, disaster struck when the island’s usually dormant volcano suddenly erupted, threatening all life on the island. The Harvest Goddess and Harvest Sprites, who were tasked with protecting Anthos, used all of their power to seal away the settlements in order to keep the people and animals of Anthos safe.
It came at quite a cost, however, as the towns and villages were cut off from one another and those caught travelling far from home were unable to reunite with their families. Ten years later, it is up to the player, with the help of their friend Doc Jr (a brilliant inventor) to reunite the people of Anthos by restoring power to the Harvest Goddess and her faithful Sprites.
In the beginning, the player will be rather limited to what they can do. The player starts in their home town of Lenctenbury Village and can only grow very few types of crops and flowers. As you progress through the game, you will be able to find more times of crops and also board animals in your barn. Boarding animals gives you access to other kinds of produce like Eggs, Milk and Wool, for example. You will also be able to home other animals like cats and dogs as pets but bear in mind that animals do require feeding and attention every day, much like the crops in your fields. On the plus side, you can find a wide range of animals to tame including wolves, tigers, camels, meerkats and even a raptor! Some animals can even be used as mounts which will make getting around Anthos a lot easier than on foot and can also participate in races with some NPC’s.
We say fields, plural, because as you explore Anthos, you will gain access to other fields where you will be able to plant more crops. Depending on the region (like a cold or arid area), crops can grow easier or struggle. You do have a trusty encyclopedia in-game, that will tell you which region a particular kind of crop will grow well. You will also be able to unlock fast travel points further into the game, making reaching each field that much easier. You will also have the option to move your house and barn closer to any field that you have visited but you won’t be able to move the fields themselves.
A series staple is the ability to create friendships and relationships with other characters. To do so, you can undertake requests to deliver them certain items that they require, as well as gift them items that they like. Some items can be simple like a particular flower or food item, while other requests may require you to cook a certain meal or provide them with refined materials. Cooking dishes can be done by using the cooker in your home and you can refine wood on the workshop bench in you home as well. As for minerals and metals, you can extract them in mines and then take them to Doc Jr, who can refine them for you at a price.
Some NPC’s can become more than just friends with your character and if your relationship has blossomed enough with them, you will be given the option to marry them. There is a potential bachelor and bachelorette in each of the game’s five settlements and while in previous games, you could only marry characters that were the opposite gender of your character, you are free to form relationships and marry whoever you want in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos, which is a first for the series.
Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos may seem like yet another farming sim game to the layperson but it is so much more than that. It has adventure, exploration and plenty of charm. This is not just some typical “top-down” sow seeds, water them, harvest the crop, and start all over again. It has a deeper story and even though the game never pressures the player with serious time constraints (with the exception of timed requests but you can opt to do them or not), you are free to explore and play at your leisure. If you have stopped playing Harvest Moon games for a long time, then may Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos be the game that entices you back.
Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos: (The Gameplay)
Publisher: Natsume Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Simulation, Role-Playing, Lifestyle, Adventure
No. of Players: 1 (Single System)
Release Date: NA/EU: September 26, 2023
File Size: 2 GB