It’s wonderful, living life to the fullest extent—something you can do in this farming slash life simulation Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. Developed and published by Marvelous Inc., this remake of the 2003 GameCube title of a similar name has players take on the role of a young main character of the player’s choosing, as they take on the farm left behind by their father after his death. A Wonderful Life starts out slow, introducing new mechanics and gradually gets you used to the game and the village, Forget-Me-Not Valley. But once it kicks off, it’s an addicting but yet an oh-so relaxing experience.
But lemme get started with the basics, too. It’s never a good idea to rush things.
I’m not all too familiar with the Story of Seasons series (and its forebearer titles), having only played a PSP entry long ago with its rather obtuse event checks. I personally prefer the Rune Factory series of games as they are much faster in pacing and have more action-focused activities such as combat. Going into A Wonderful Life, I had to slow myself down quite a bit and get used to the slower bout of life.
Unlike the Rune Factory games, Story of Seasons has players customise their appearance and gender right off the bat. Takakura, a friend of your father’s, gives you the bear necessities and helps guide you through the basics of farm life. He’s not the only one, however, as the people of the valley will gradually introduce themselves to you (and the other way around) and give you an idea of what life is like in their free world.
Gardening is simple and fun. You till the land, plop seeds in, and water when necessary. You’ll need to be mindful of your crop’s health and the season you’re in when planting, however, and you’ll need to be careful not to tire yourself out or you’ll find yourself visiting one of the series’ more unique doctors around. Keeping an eye on mother nature via the TV set will definitely give you an edge here (and more free time). One thing I wish the game was more careful with is how easy it is to overwrite a plotted seed with a hoe—if you’re not careful, you could lose a lot of seeds this way.
Farming and animal husbandry are pertinent to your success; you’re going to need a lot of monies to renovate the old farm. When your done tending to the chickens, sheep, cows, planets and whatnot, you’re beckoned to explore the valley. Whether that’s mining for Carter and taking home valuable artifacts to sell, fishing in the game’s many lakes, or collecting flowers, there’s a lot of activities that will eat up your time in a rather fun gameplay loop. But sometimes I wish certain mechanics were explained in-game rather than a notebook, like improving your animal’s health and how that is relative to the product they produce.
It’s also important to talk with the residents of the valley. Not only will they have solid advice to share, but you might even get some very useful supplies like cooking recipes which you can get from the valley’s sprites every day. And on a slightly more frustrating side, you can miss out on events with characters if you’re not always exploring.
Every resident has a story to share, and it helps really make Forget-Me-Not Valley feel alive. Whether you’re watching residents interact with one-another in cutscenes or when you’re directly conversing (watch what you say!) with the townspeople, the welcoming vibe of the populace is a bonus on top of the game’s fun gameplay loop.
You’ll also find your soul mate this way. Don’t get caught up in your work too much or you’ll zoom past one of the game’s important narrative themes.
This version of the old GameCube classic feels great to play. A full-fat 60 frames per second alongside pleasing bright ‘n colourful visuals amongst an array of seasons awaits you in A Wonderful Life. Multiple save slots, languages, and Quick Resume support too. Along with being able to save anywhere and anytime (it’s a good idea to save often!). Some might miss the original’s dirtier visuals that were more common on that hardware, but I don’t mind the change at all.
But to put simply, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is an addicting and relaxing farming game with a solid gameplay loop and lots of replayability. Definitely one of the better farming games out there, so put down the sword and shield and pick up a watering can for a change—you won’t regret it.
STORY OF SEASONS: A Wonderful Life
Xbox Series X
- Solid and addicting gameplay loop.
- The valley is full of life and characters have meaningful interactions with you and the others.
- Plenty of options to build out your farm and improve how you do your work.
- Side activities keep you busy when there's downtime.