Story of Seasons has a long and interesting history. The series formerly known as Harvest Moon started way back in 1997 on the SNES and continues to this day, despite some copyright shenanigans by North American publisher Natsume. Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is a remake of the 2003 game in Marvelous’ continued quest to reclaim their own work. While a lot has changed, for better and worse, this is the new definitive version of the game.
Just like most other farming games, you’ve inherited a farm from your father and move from the big city to the countryside to begin working the land. Changes from the original version are evident right from the start, with a completely redone intro and translation. In addition, you no longer have to purchase a separate game to play as a woman and create your character right at the start of the game. There’s a decent suite of options, all of which are available no matter your gender, and you can even be non-binary! Regardless of your gender, you can also romance, marry, and have a child with any of the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.
Marriage is a big part of this particular entry, but before you can do that you need to make a living and some friends. You’ll want to grow crops and take care of animals, both of which are pretty simple. To begin, you have two small fields next to your house – one with poor soil quality and one with good quality soil. After buying seeds from another local farm, you can sow them in your fields after tilling squares with your hoe. From there, you just need to water your crops once a day and they’ll be ready for harvest in no time. However, you still need to pay attention to each plant’s particulars, such as only growing in certain seasons or good quality soil, especially since there are only 10 days in each season.
Animals need a bit more attention. Yes, you’ll need fodder for them to eat every day, but to really take care of them you need to brush and snuggle them, milk cows and shear sheep, and send them out to graze on sunny days. Don’t forget to send them back into the barn or coop as well, because no one wants to spend all night outside in the cold. All of this is incredibly convenient now thanks to your toolbelt, which is separate from your inventory. Accessed by pressing L1 and swapping between tools with the D-Pad, you can quickly and easily swap between your watering can, new camera, sickle, milker, or anything else really. Taking care of business around the farm is simple enough, but you’ll also need to make time for socializing.
The Forgotten Valley (formerly known as Forget-me-not Valley) has several quirky residents who you’ll want to get to know by speaking with them each day and perhaps giving them gifts. Everyone has different tastes, but you can give anyone a gift simply by pressing L1 to access your inventory and scroll through slots with the D-Pad, then just approach and talk to them while holding the item. If they’re interested, you can offer it to them, but if not they’ll just comment on it. Several of your romance options like flowers found around the valley (such as Molly, formerly Muffy), but for others you need to find fossils at the local dig site or even cook meals with ingredients foraged, grown, or acquired from animals.
With only 40 days per year, the game keeps you busy from sunrise to sunset, especially as the years go on. In the first year you need to get married, because afterwards there’s a timeskip and suddenly you’re raising a toddler with your spouse. A Wonderful Life is all about making a wonderful life for your family, and the valley and its residents will change as time passes. Raising a kid (who can be male or female depending on your choice) and continually growing your farm is a difficult task, but a very fun one.
I ended up with Lumina (as a female character, so you can headcanon pretty much anyone as trans), which means our child is naturally drawn to the arts and creative endeavors. You can influence them by showing them objects pertaining to things like farming or ranching, taking them to places like your fields or NPCs houses, and giving them certain toys to play with. The game doesn’t explain any of that, so I’ve been referring to old GameFAQs to try and make my girl a farmer like her mama. Either I’m doing something very wrong or it’s slow going, because in Fall of year 2 she’s barely interested in the stuff. Perhaps the game is trying to tell me it’s better to just support your children in what they’re interested in rather than trying to force anything on them.
That brings us to the most controversial change in this remake: the lack of death. A Wonderful Life was all about simulating your life – your animals would die of old age, crops die if not taken care of, and yes you eventually pass on yourself at the end of the game. Life and death are essentially the game’s main theme. While you and your crops still die (I assume with the former, this is a long game), your animals are now immortal. On one hand, I do love my animals and don’t want them to die, but the artist in me feels like this takes away from the game’s themes. There are still moments in the game where you encounter this theme, but the lack of it in normal gameplay makes those moments feel jarring in a game that is now very relaxed, cozy, and cute.
Thankfully, every other change has been for the better. The visuals are much more colorful and appealing, gameplay has been sped up (literally in terms of text and movement speed), the translation is much improved, and everything is just more convenient. With the toolbelt and massive inventory always accessible with the press of a button, menuing is at a minimum. I really only brought it up occasionally (using Y) to check on quests, my character’s hunger, my daughter’s interests, and relationships with NPCs. With the start menu, you can also save and load anywhere as well as refer to Takakura’s notes. It’s all incredibly convenient, especially considering the original was hard to tolerate as a kid playing on PS2.
The PC version also contains some great features. While there’s no mouse hover support, you can play the entire game with a keyboard and mouse, rebinding everything as you see fit and swapping on the fly with a gamepad. There are minimal graphics options, but you can adjust the quality of things like Anti-Aliasing, shadows, and turn off Bloom and light shafts. Unfortunately the game is limited to 60 frames per second and you can’t increase the very noticeable draw distance, but it’s decent for a port from consoles.
The game is also playable on Steam Deck, though I’m not sure it’ll receive the verified status. It doesn’t play nice with Proton, and sometimes the game will boot to a black screen. It will also quickly drain your battery for some reason. It’s not graphically intense and even setting everything to medium or low has the device running hot with loud fans. There’s no in-game 30fps option and locking to 30 with the QAC introduces noticeable input lag. However, you can set the refresh rate to 40 with medium settings for a decent compromise. It’s not ideal, but in the 24 total hours I spent playing most of those were on Deck.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life does lose some of the original’s soul in this remake, but it gains some incredible convenience and quality of life updates to make it much more enjoyable for a modern audience. Returning to the Forgotten Valley is a nostalgic experience for veterans, and newcomers will discover why the original game is a classic.