Doraemon Story of Seasons Review
We’ve been playing Doraemon Story of Seasons for two weeks now, and have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Natura, engaging with the various citizens, solving problems, and working on finding a way back to the present. We ran over the setting up of the story in our Story of Seasons Prologue article, so be sure to read that – now we dive into the nitty gritty of this experience, and spoilers…it’s really good!
When asking Bandai Namco for an opportunity to review Doraemon Story of Seasons, I had to pitch to them how much of a fan I was of the franchise. Shoot, the last two Story of Seasons titles on 3DS saw me racking up over 100 hours in each of those title. At 56 hours into Doraemon, I might quickly eclipse those numbers.
But part of playing this franchise so much is being somewhat of an expert on what to expect, what not to expect, and be able to detail how well the development team did on bringing this franchise to Nintendo Switch. This isn’t Stardew Valley, and those coming in thinking it is, are going to be wildly disappointed. While Stardew Valley is a fantastic title, it’s pure focus is not so much on the re-making of your grandfathers farm, but more about being the supreme farmer in the region, working tiredlessly day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year to bring in as much money as possible. That isn’t Story of Seasons.
Instead, the development team worked on creating a more relaxed farming experience, one that isn’t worried about maximizing profits, but rather about building relationships with those around you, and slowly building up your own farm into something beautiful an efficient. It’s a relaxed, slow experience, and one that is nailed in Doraemon Story of Seasons.
This game is about story first, farming second. More often than in other farming simulation titles, I was planting crops and raising animals not for major profits, but because I knew a specific townsperson liked cows milk, or wool from sheep, or perhaps carrots. I grew to match the desires of the people I needed to interact with, instead of growing to maximize my funds. Because as you get going in Doraemon, you quickly realize this game isn’t about getting from A to B as fast as possible. It’s suppose to be relaxing, it’s suppose to take a few seasons to build things on the farm, buy all the recipes from the cook, and so on. It’s a slow go, and that needs to be understood going in!
Ultimately, I think Doraemon Story of Seasons delivers on the story. Since the development team was able to leverage all the characters, feelings, and ‘vibe’ of the Doraemon anime into this title, it made for interesting story opportunities. And there are tons of different plot lines to follow, whether it’s getting Doraemon’s gadgets back from the mayor (making farming and traversing the world easier), or figuring out why the blacksmiths son hates his father, or the potential budding romance between the doctor and the nurse. I always wanted to see what would happen next, but to unlock the next part of the story, friendships and bonds need to be formed.
And that gets back to what Story of Seasons is all about. Again, it’s not about the profits, but more about the relationships. Story plots don’t move forward if you aren’t building stronger and stronger relationships with the people involved. If nothing else, prioritizing relationships is the key to beating Story of Seasons, not necessarily farming the soil or taking care of animals. And the development team nailed that, and makes it very obvious from the get-go. Relationships are king, so prioritize them.
That being said, the farming aspect of this title still needs to work, and work well, and for the most part, that is true. If you’ve played a farming simulation game before, it’s par for the course. You begin with a set of worn out tools which can be upgraded using ore from the mines. You have limited stamina, that needs to be refilled by napping or eating. You’ll plow fields, plant crops, fertilize them, water them, and ultimately harvest them to be shipped.
When you aren’t working with the crops, you’ll be tending to chickens, cows, and sheep. You’ll have various animals around your farm (Dog and Cat) and around the world (squirrel, monkey, bear…) that you can interact with as well. You’ll be collecting stone and wood to build new buildings, catching fish and bugs to make a few extra bucks, and so much more. The day to day farming in Story of Seasons is fantastic, with only a few hiccups.
Most notably, dealing with animals is much slower than it really needs to be. Like in other games of this ilk, animals like to be outside when the weather is nice, but for whatever reason, the second you pick up a chicken or push a cow or sheep, your character slows to almost a crawl, which really pulls you back from the experience. When you have only 1 or 2 chickens, it’s really not a problem. But when you are toting 5-6 chickens outside every day, one at a time, it becomes a major, unnecessary chore.
At least, however, the world of Doraemon Story of Seasons looks great. Although the art style might not appeal to some, the beautiful water colour backgrounds are the perfect setting for a Story of Seasons title. Add in outstanding natural sounds of moving rivers, chirps of bucks and birds, slow roll of the ocean waves, and you have an ambient experience, on top of an entertaining one.
From top to bottom, the development team behind Story of Seasons have created an experience that is driven by story, and aided by farming. No one part is emphasized too much, and when it all comes together, it’s a wonderful experience that narrative driven, farming simulation fans are really going to enjoy!