About Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

A hopeful harvest in the light

There is a sad irony in the release of Harvest Moon for PC. Over the years, there has been a growing number of fans of “purely Japanese” video games, as well as clones of varying quality. In order for Light of Hope to appear on Steam, Nintendo had to release a console with a touchscreen. Only then did the developers at Natsume realize that a lazy port of the game to computers – with “Tap to start” on the main screen and hints for a gamepad in the game itself – was enough work to not really fix anything, and the client still worked.

It doesn’t matter that Harvest Moon: Light of Hope is the same as Skytree Village for 3DS, just in profile. In fact, the series has already undergone rebranding.

The funniest thing is that the studio actually succeeded. Welcome to the simulator of a young farmer from Japanese cartoons with the most convenient controls available on PC!

Brief summary of previous episodes

The Harvest Moon series, which debuted on Super Nintendo, seemed to tell the same story from game to game. It revolved around a young man (or alternatively, a young woman) who, by some twist of fate, ended up on an abandoned farm. After that, they would get to know the residents of the nearby town, plant potatoes and corn, go mushroom picking, fix barns, and marry a neighbor they liked… in short, they would build a happy rural life.

The gameplay looked, and still looks, something like this: the hero wakes up in bed at six o’clock in the morning local time, then goes out to the yard, where they dig beds one after another, then plant seeds in these beds, then water the beds, then weed out the weeds that appear on some of the cells, then run to town to court the ladies and buy new seeds, then go to sleep. The next day, our hero wakes up at six o’clock in the morning local time, then goes out to the yard, where they dig beds one after another, then plant seeds in these beds, then water the beds, then weed out the weeds that appear on some of the cells, then run to town to court the ladies and buy new seeds, then go to sleep.

On the third day, our hero is invited to participate in a sports fishing competition, where it is probably impossible to take first place yet, because a professional fishing rod has not been purchased, and the necessary skill has not been leveled up to an insane level. But the Groundhog Week is over, and in general, such festivities only happen once a season.

But now the festival is over, it’s time to return to the family business. So that later, you can approach the next holiday as the first guy in the village and a wealthy person. In the second year of this life, you might even be able to get married…

In short, welcome to a pastoral life with simple, but endless grinding and happiness in the little things, like buying a carpet for the living room at the fair. It was an unusual pastime, especially compared to Mario, Secret of Mana, Jungle Strike, and other FIFA 96.

Tending the fields of hope

Slight delay

As we already know, the game had enough success to spawn a bunch of sequels (and even a spin-off called Rune Factory), but it remained relatively niche in the world of Japanese console gaming.

The second-to-last game in the Harvest Moon series was titled Skytree Village and was released in 2016 on the Nintendo 3DS. It differed from its predecessors in two ways. First, it had a relatively limited amount of content compared to contemporary standards. Second, it featured a new storyline about an island that had survived a wild hurricane, with a magical lighthouse.

However, we are hardcore PC enthusiasts, so we don’t really know much about all that. With four candidates for a spouse, several locations that are not immediately accessible, and vast expanses of farmland, what more could we ask for?

Oh, wait. It seems that there was another game that came out, called Stardew Valley. Skytree Village, sorry, Light of Hope, cannot compare to it in any way. The only advantage it has is mouse control.

Stardew Valley diligently borrowed all the best elements from Harvest Moon. The pleasant animated style, festivals and other events from different parts of HM, and most importantly, the carefree atmosphere. Along with all this happiness, however, Stardew Valley completely copied the old control model and the poorly optimized keyboard and mouse interface. Everything is great, but for some reason, it’s impossible to play leisurely farming simulators without WASD movement, and it’s impossible to have a healthy inventory screen with filters, not to mention the wonders of a draggable interface.

Farming under the light of hope

In LoH, you can play with just a mouse, and for this achievement alone, I would recommend trying the PC remake to all genre lovers. If before, an ordinary fan of pixelated fields of 3×3 could only dream of control that was at least partially compatible with the modern invention of 1970, now we have a living example of it. And from the genre’s founder, no less! A lazy, sloppy port that in half of the cases even hinders farming affairs, yet the controls turned out to be more convenient than anything that appeared on PC before.

Indie developers, older Japanese brothers have given you the green light. Finally, make an anime farm with a mouse-controlled hero, at least in 2018.

To repair everything

Well, you have to give credit to the plot twist about the hurricane. Starting the game on an island with a population of two people is an unusual and interesting turn for the series.

Yes, at first our new home is practically uninhabited. The roads are blocked, the houses are boarded up and abandoned. Only Pocahontas and a lady engaged in various scientific activities live on the island. In fact, the former finds the protagonist (or heroine) passing the time in an unconscious state and brings them to the doorstep of the latter, so that she can figure out how the protagonist is doing health-wise.

Building a cozy farmstead

The entire island will need to be repaired. The new native home, roads, bridges, houses, shops, mine, beach cabin, descent into the underground kingdom, the magical lighthouse – everything requires attention, as well as stone, wood, and other resources.

As the renovation progresses, the island’s former inhabitants will return. They won’t bring anything special with them at first, except for grateful speeches, but the town will gradually come to life. Shops will open, the blacksmith will start working. Eventually, there will be someone to flirt with. A great incentive.

For about five hours, I was passionately repairing the islanders’ houses. The farm was actually more like a shack in a logging camp. One and a half beds of cabbage, ten seconds of watering, and off we go, to reconstruct everything.

However, once I managed to bring most of the townspeople back home, the enthusiasm subsided. After all, I had already gotten used to more crowded places, more spacious areas, and juicier scenery. I became spoiled.

A flourishing farm in the light

The glass is half empty

In Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, your humble servant has only two major complaints. Why such a sloppy port and why so late.

Well, poorly optimized game clients on PC are a common drawback of 95% of Japanese projects. A non-resizable window, an untouched console interface with console prompts, bugs popping up in unexpected places in the ported code, Japanese game buyers on Steam essentially agree to all of this in advance. How it happened that buying Harvest Moon on a computer became possible only in 2017 is a mystery shrouded in darkness.

Oh, I came up with a third major complaint. Why is Harvest Moon: Light of Hope – Skytree Village, and not the magnificent Rune Factory: Frontier? Since you are not releasing a new game anyway, but reissuing an old one, why do we need this poor relative with nothing? Why do we need this pale shadow of past happiness, even inferior to Harvest Moon DS: Grand Bazaar from 2008? We already have the aforementioned Stardew Valley.

I would gladly replay the wonderful Frontier. And many gamers, who are experiencing the genre for the first time, would be delighted.


Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Adventure, Simulation
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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