Update: This story originally stated that Yasuhiro Wada, the creator of Harvest Moon, was working on Story of Seasons. This was incorrect and the story has been changed to reflect this.
Natsume announced today that Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, the first Harvest Moon game for PC, will be released on November 14 on Steam. Originally slated for 2018 alongside the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 versions, Natsume's CEO and president Hiro Maekawa said in a press release that the ahead-of-schedule PC launch is due to "the hard work of our team." In an era where game delays are commonplace, having one launch sooner than expected is pretty cool, hey?
Well, you might not want to get too excited. As a massive Harvest Moon fan, there's plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this latest entry in the series. Back in 2013, Natsume and the original development team behind many of the beloved Harvest Moon games parted ways, with Natsume retaining rights to the series' name.
Marvelous Inc., the original developers, continued creating Harvest Moon-style games under the new name Story of Seasons. Meanwhile, Natsume continued making their own version under the original name Harvest Moon, but those games haven't been all that well received. It's all a little confusing.
Light of Hope could hopefully change that lukewarm reception to the new era of Harvest Moon. Though it was announced back in May, Natsume finally showed it off on the Switch and PC at E3. Similar to other Harvest Moon games, your character arrives in a town and is promptly tasked with solving all of their rural issues by sweating it out on the fields planting crops and raising livestock and wooing all of the single people.
Light of Hope adds a twist in that the town was recently devastated by a storm and it's up to you to rebuild the ruined houses and stores so that residents can return. "The game also introduces a retro plus feel, with classic SNES-inspired graphics alongside some modern features in honor of the 20th anniversary," Natsume says. "And in addition to these new features will be some familiar faces from previous Harvest Moon titles."
That all sounds like classic Harvest Moon, but recent impressions haven't been positive. Looking at the trailer, fans (myself included) are quick to criticize the bland art style, which doesn't evoke the 16-bit glory days as much as it makes it look like a mobile game. With Stardew Valley firmly cemented as the best Harvest Moon-type game on PC, I'm not sure that Light of Hope will have what it takes to punt it off the throne.
We'll find out for sure on November 14 when Harvest Moon: Light of Hope releases.