The last time a team decided to spin-off from Harvest Moon to make something new, we of the fantastic series that is Rune Factory. Now, six years since the first Rune Factory game reached North America, we have our second spin-off: Hometown Story. Instead of keeping the farming aspect and adding dungeon crawling as Rune Factory did, Hometown Story focuses on the selling aspect, where you get to run your own shop, purchase the products and sell them for profit while meeting the whimsical characters you love from Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. It sounds like a great idea, right?
Well, that’s all it is, a great idea.
Hometown Story features some of the most frustrating game play mechanics I’ve ever experienced in a game, starting with just running around town! The camera is fixed in an odd area in a few spots throughout each area, making it difficult to advance as the camera switches to new angles that often make it hard to see where you’re going. Going to the shop aspect, how you purchase your product is also irritating. You have to wait for a seller to show up once a day to buy a limited amount of product from, or run around a very spread out town to find the farmer, chef or fisherman to buy from instead. Or you can scavenge, too. While you’re away from your store, people can’t purchase items, as you also run the register.
Each time someone buys an item, you have to restock the shelf it was on. Early on you can only fit at most five items as well, so you’re replenishing constantly. Now, setting up the store isn’t bad, and having time before you open to prepare is a good addition, but that’s the end of what’s well done in the shop. You can’t even close shop for the day or leave without opening the store, with or without products to sell! Interacting with villagers is very limited as well, as there’s no interesting dialogue, and you never know how to progress in your relationships with people. You can get married in this game, but with personalities as rich and flavorful as a bowl full of mud, there’s no interest there. There are events you can trigger as well, but there’s no clear way on how to trigger any of them.
To be honest, I’m not sure if there ever was any story development. A relative of yours passes away, and you move to take over their store. That’s the entire story I got in the month of game time I was willing to put in. That’s it. Some of the characters started to reveal a little bit about themselves, but honestly, I didn’t care.
3D models with 2D avatars you see when you speak to characters. The character models are well made in a simple, cute way, but the environments are rather bland. Surprisingly, the stores and homes are nice, and you can customize your own store to look even nicer, which I’ll give the game credit for, and the soundtrack is solid.
Buyer’s remorse. That’s the best way to summarize this game. Notice the review wasn’t very long, and that’s because I don’t like to continue to go on about something negative, and I really gained nothing from this game. Really, this game could be nice for your phone or tablet, and it’s supposed to be released on iOS in early 2014. So with that in mind, I might recommend Hometown Story in that format if they make any improvements to interactivity, and shrink down the town, but that’s not nearly enough time to do so. So you’ll just end up with the same clunky, frustrating game that’s on 3DS. Sadly, this game is just bare bones and boring, completely lacking the charm of the Harvest Moon series, and in just about any sort of play ability.
Leave this one on the shelf, and back out of the store.
I did get a nice green dragon plush… so there’s that.
Sum it up in one word: Closed