Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is the newest entry in the long-running series of farming simulators, and the third Harvest Moon title independently developed by Natsume. This title promises mechanical refinements grounded in criticism of Natsume's previous two Harvest Moon titles and the chance to raise fluffy endangered donkeys. Curiosity: established!
My character for the demo was a noodly-armed man with an interest in the ladies, but I could have also chosen to be a lady searching for an eligible bachelor. Natsume is aware of fan requests for queer relationships, but haven't provided the option "this time." Regardless of the character, the plot revolves around restoring Skytree Village's faith in the Harvest Goddess and her sacred skytrees. Each skytree is keyed to a different farming activity and harvest sprite, so tasting a little bit of everything will ultimately be required to be crowned the Best Farmer, Savior of Skytree Village, Champion of the Harvest Sprites. Sheer all the donkeys and eat all of the snacks!
I started my grand quest by running my flop-limbed hero around town. The townsfolk were pleasant, but seemingly unaware of the trouble they were causing the skytrees. I wasn't able to find any of the three marriageable partners to evaluate their interest in the Old Faith, so I decided to head home. There were stories to document, requests to uncover, and genealogies to explore, but it was time to track down the homestead. By this point, night had fallen and my horse was asleep. Waking him up resulted in a frowny face icon, which I can only hope was remedied later by petting him.
After a night of rest, I started to take care of my farm. I hoed the ground, planted cabbage and celery seeds, and watered them with a watering can I filled from a nearby well. While at the well, I went fishing in the nearby river and caught a 28.3 cm tilapia. Next, I harvested some crops, chopped down a tree, and removed the stump. Context-sensitive controls helped streamline all of these actions. Interacting with an object automatically uses the most intuitive tool for the job: unwatered seeds receive water, while gnarly stumps get the axe. By this time my character was getting tired, so I went to bed.
The next morning, I had a hankering for terraforming. By taking shovel to farmland, I was able to dig some ponds and build up a large collection of dirt. In turn, this dirt was turned into large mounds. I considered planting tulips on top to create a raised flower bed, but wasn't sure how the elevation would influence the crop. Elevation modifies crop statistics and fish production, so it's worth monitoring while building the farm of your dreams.
Even after a short time playing, I imagine my first move in a full game would be tracking down upgraded tools to farm multiple squares at a time. Limiting the animation time appeals to my sense of efficiency, and digging multiple squares appeals to my pride at building terraced pyramids covered in cabbages. Harvest Moon: Skytree Village is set to release fall 2016 as a digital download and a premium physical edition that comes with a stuffed animal.