Raise your hand if you find it difficult to de-stress during these tumultuous times. Both my hands are up. I wake up stressed and go to sleep the same way, so any chance I have at decompressing is a win for me. To do this, I often play music games or the occasional sim when I'm not hitting up a shooter, and I'm a big fan of the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons series.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a 3D remake of the Game Boy Advance title Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, which is itself a remake of PlayStation's Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. Confusing naming conventions aside, Friends of Mineral Town has been one of my favorites in the series since I tried the Game Boy Advance version.
Now, it's been given a loving amount of polish with a fresh coat of paint for both PC and Nintendo Switch. I jumped into the PC version for some hands-on time with the game, slated for release in July, and watched the tensions slowly melt away until I was in the zone, farming away to my heart's content.
Like many other farming games, you can choose a male or female character and rudimentary customization options, then it's off to meet up with the mayor of Mineral Town. There, you're tasked with building a neglected farm back up to its former glory. From then on, you name your farm, equip yourself with your first set of rudimentary tools, and get to work.
What does that work entail? Everything a farmer typically does, including using a hoe to till soil, breaking up rocks and wood to make way for crops, planting and watering seeds, and taking care of your animals. You can also head over to the mine to collect goodies and coins that you can add to your stash.
Of course, there's a whole town to interact with, too, where you can buy supplies and check out what the folks are doing there. You can befriend several villagers, and eventually even adopt a dog and a horse. Yes, farm animal fanatics, there are chickens, sheep, and cows as well, all with commodities that can be sold to help make your farm more prosperous.
You can work as long as your body can take it, but you have to remember to take time for yourself as well. There's a hot spring you can soak in to restore stamina so you can get right back into the game, but the in-game clock still runs, so eventually shops will close and you'll need to make sure you deliver your crops and other goodies before indulging in lengthy soaks.
It's best to call it a day before collapsing, obviously, but your character will make it clear that they're on the brink of exhaustion so you shouldn't have to worry about missing cues. A good night's rest will cure everything, so make sure to get some sleep early sometimes and just get a fresh start the next day.
Marvelous Interactive has done a fantastic job of bringing everything I loved about the Game Boy Advance version to life in 3D, and everything feels smooth and fluid. It's a joy to clear out your farmland, and the graphics are bright and cute, almost overflowing with friendliness and positivity. You can even dress up in a cow costume if you wish, which only ups the "aww" factor.
I have trouble focusing on a clear goal with games like Stardew Valley, simply because there's so much going on at once. That's why I have more success relaxing with games like older titles from the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons monikers. There's still plenty to do, but it comes at a much less relentless pace.
The only stress I feel is when the in-game clock is nearing 5 PM and I haven't filled up the Shipping Bin for my friendly delivery person Zack to pick up for the day. That means I have to wait until the next day for more funds, but even then, it's all good. I just like to be an overachiever and help Zack out.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town is a vastly enjoyable update to a beloved handheld title, and it ran like a dream on PC. You'll be able to try it out for yourself when it debuts on both PC and Switch on July 14.