Many games have the ability to turn what would be dull, every day chores into something much more fun - whether it's redecorating your house a la Animal Crossing, looking after a household full of Sims, or, y'know, doing totally normal Dad-ly things as a secret octopus. One of the longest running of these 'slice of life' style games is Harvest Moon, a series which tasks you with farming your way through life as you help out the local townsfolk along the way. Marking the 20th Anniversary of the series' European debut (and 22 years since its initial Japanese outing) comes a brand new game, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition.
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What is Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition?
The newest instalment in the long-running Harvest Moon series, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope, brings more of the same farming, friendship-forming fun, this time to the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. By planting crops, tending to your farm and looking after your animals, you'll gradually begin to help rebuild the dilapidated Beacon Town, encouraging new people to move in. More people means more shops, more requests and more faces to befriend, as you carve out your own little rural niche - and who knows, you might even fall in love and start a family too?
For those that haven't been following the series as closely these past few years, it's worth noting that Harvest Moon is no longer developed by the same people as it once was. A few years ago, the studio - and therefore the series - split, with publishers Natsume keeping the Harvest Moon licence, and developers Marvelous moving on to make Harvest Moon-alike Story of Seasons instead. Natsume meanwhile started to make their own version of the game, but still under the same Harvest Moon moniker as before.
What's so special about the Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition?
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope originally released on the PC, via Steam, back in November 2017. The same game is now being remade for the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch under the Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition name, with a few extra additions (most notably an extra romance character - and co-op!). All versions of the game on the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch are by default the Special Edition, so console players don't need to watch out for different editions or worry about missing out on anything - there is no standard edition - it's just a bit of a confusing name.
What is the story in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope?
Looking for a change of scenery and a fresh start, you set off on a voyage to begin a new life - but, unfortunately, en route to your destination, your ship gets hit by a storm. Shipwrecked, you drift into a small harbour town, once known for its mighty lighthouse, and are saved by a friendly young doctor called Jeanne. Once you come round, it emerges that the town has essentially been deserted, when the lighthouse's everlasting light was mysteriously extinguished. But far from a bad omen, it turns out to be just the new start you need, as you set about helping rebuild the town, via the medium of a conveniently abandoned farm. With some hard graft growing crops, tending to livestock and gathering materials for repairs, you'll gradually rebuild the town, revive the lighthouse and make some new friends along the way.
What romance options are there in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition?
One of the main draws of the Harvest Moon series is the ability to fall in love, get married and start a family, and every game in the series has its own selection of eligible characters you can befriend and try and get into the pants of. Most of the bachelors/bachelorettes you can romance on Beacon Island seem to be largely all the same folks as the previous Harvest Moon game, Harvest Moon: Skytree Village (which in turn borrowed characters from Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley). Unlike the previous game, you can now give villagers gifts to help increase your affection with them, with each character having their own unique likes and dislikes. The list of eligible folks is as follows:
- Dean - the flower-loving florist who's surprisingly manly, but really just a big softie at heart.
- Cyril - the absent-minded aristocrat who legit talks like a private school boy, all tally-ho and pip-pip.
- Edmond - a wise old wizard who's been researching the lighthouse, and acts as Tabitha and Gareth's teacher - and often, peacemaker (originally DLC for Skytree Village).
- Gabriel - a shy, introverted livestock herder, who has a real way with animals.
- Gareth - a calm and intelligent wizard that can get a bit OCD where his research is involved, often disappearing for days at a time.
- Melanie - the high-spirited fashion-savvy girl from the city, who lives with her grandfather, a stubborn old blacksmith.
- Jeanne - a bookish, kind-hearted girl who works as the town doctor - who also rescued you when you first washed up ashore.
- Elise - the innocent daughter of the local restaurant owner, Elsie aspires to be a great chef some day.
- Nova - a somewhat wild girl who's best friends with a local bob cat and spends most of her time wandering the mountains (originally DLC for Skytree Village).
- Tabitha - a rather chatty, somewhat naive witch who has a fierce rivalry with Gareth. Her hobbies include turning people into frogs.
What's in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope's DLC and Season Pass?
Like several of the more recent Harvest Moon games, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition will have a selection of downloadable extras you can buy to enhance your game. There will be four packs of DLC, spread out over a few months - and you can opt to buy a $10/£7.99 Season Pass to access them all.
- Decorations & Tool Upgrade Pack - $1.99/£1.69, 29th May (US)
Customise your farm with 7 different decorative fence sets and two new statues. You'll also be able to upgrade your Hoe (that's, the farming tool, not the bachelorette) and Watering Can by two additional levels, making farming much easier!
- New Marriagable Characters Pack - $5.99/£4.99, 19th June (US)
Includes two new eligible residents to romance! Shirlock is a fledgling journalist and self-proclaimed detective, while Michelle is eccentric scientist/inventor Doc's research partner.
- Doc and Melanie's Special Episodes - $5.99/£4.99, 10th July (US)
Help out Melanie and Doc in two new side stories that unlcok new shops in Beacon Town! Melanie, the town's interior/apparel designer is in a bit of a slump and needs your help finding some inspiration, while Doc is having some trouble in the romance department and needs a helping hand.
- Divine Marriageable Characters Pack - $3.99/???, 31st July (US)
Unlocks the ability to woo the Harvest Goddess or Gorgan, the king of the underworld, letting you get to know them better, and potentially marry yourself a divine spouse!
Each of the main console's own online stores have the option to purchase and download the 'Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition Deluxe/Bundle', which includes the game and the season pass in one handy bundle at a cheaper price.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition's New Features - co-op, dog racing and crop mutations
For not-quite-the-first-time-in-series-history, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition will now feature two player co-operative play on the Playstation 4 and Switch. A second player can jump in at any time and play as Soleil, a 'Gem Sprite' fairy-like creature who can help "grow crops, tend livestock and gather materials". Soleil does seem to be an independent character that you can control, rather than a simple 'helper' co-op pointer as per previous (Wii) Harvest Moon games, although it sounds like they can only help with grunt work, and can't chat to villagers, accept requests and otherwise interact with the folks of Beacon Town.
Beacon Town also holds a bi-annual Dog Racing festival, which will see you and your pet pooch racing together to be the best-bonded pair in the town. Essentially, you need to run quite fast, from one end of the course to the other, while your loyal doggy trots faithfully along behind you - just be careful not to go too far out in front, or it may panic and stop dead. By carefully matching your step with your furry companion, you'll be able to cross the finish line in style - and it's well worth taking the time out to shower your pet with affection the whole year round too, as the higher your friendship, the better they'll follow your lead, and the better chance you have of coming first.
Recent mobile game Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories added some cool new animals, which will also be making an appearance in Harvest Moon: Light of Hope. A Brown Cow will give you chocolate milk every day, whilst Brown Chickens lay Candy Eggs, Cotton Sheep can be sheared for Cotton Candy Wool, and Silky Donkeys produce Silky Fur. However, you'll have to play for quite a while - and finish restoring the lighthouse - before you're able to unlock the rarer animals!
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope also adds an extra dimension to raising crops, as plants now have the possibility to mutate into a completely different crop. Throughout Beacon Island, you'll now find new terrains to farm on, from the dry, cracked and harsh terrain of the mountains to a swampy marshland found near the beach. By playing around with the different terrain types, as well as the effects of different seasons, weather conditions and neighbouring crops, you may be able to mutate your crops into something new. Purple potatoes, jalapeno peppers and magical berries are just a handful of the crops on offer, all of which require a bit of experimentation on your part if you want to grow 'em all.
What is the Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition Collector's Edition?
As if the naming wasn't complicated enough, Rising Star Games are also releasing a (European) Collector's Edition of Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Special Edition, which comes with a whole host of goodies for series fans. Alongside a copy of the game and the digital season pass (which gets you access to all the extra downloadable add-ons we cover further down), you'll also get a set of metal pin badges, a ceramic mug and a canvas tote bag, all decorated with some of the Harvest Moon series' adorable chibi animals. All this comes packaged in a nifty Farmyard Barn Collector's Box - essentially a novelty cardboard barn.
American fans aren't missing out on the Collector's Edition fun either, and instead get their own nifty package - a copy of the game (although no mention of the Season Pass), a soundtrack CD, a hardcover 'Farmer's Journal' notebook, an animal-themed pin badge set and a cuddly 'Chocolate Cow Plush'. All of this comes packaged in a special collector's box, which seems to just be a cardboard box covered in Harvest Moon artwork, rather than a novelty barn or anything. Still, we're pretty jealous of the plush cow, as UK versions never ever seem to get a cuddly farm animal!
- NIS America Online Store - $64.99
So that's your lot - if you're looking for a game with a little more romance, and a little bit of a change of pace from the norm, Harvest Moon: Light of Hope could be right up your street.