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Doraemon and his friends have been transported to a brand new world and they must find their way back home. In the meantime, they must farm, interact with villagers and live out their day-to-day lives in this new world. With the charming art style of the world of Doraemon and the beloved Story of Seasons gameplay, this iteration should be a match made in heaven…

Gameplay

Doraemon Story of Seasons is a game that’s a seemingly lengthy tutorial. A lot of that has to do with the story, introducing the characters, etc. but for veterans of the farming simulations genre, you may find it to drag out and hold your hand to begin with.

Farming has reverted back to its roots in this iteration, and not in a good way. As the series has evolved, the developers have learned from the mistakes of past iterations and streamlined the action for the sake of convenience. In Doraemon Story of Seasons, you’ll find yourself having to sow patches and plant seeds for each individual square which after a few dozen tiles, turns into a real chore. Another aspect of farming that has become a chore to undertake is harvesting. When you water a plant it grows straight away. The issue we took with this is that once a plant has been watered and harvested, you’ll then need to rewater the plant again in order for it to continue growing, meaning you’ll spend a lot of time rewatering your plants. This combined with the awkward controls makes the task become increasingly frustrating and tiresome, especially as your farm grows.

Another aspect that we found particularly irksome was that the game doesn’t tell you how to split item stats. In most Story of Seasons games, when you go to add things to shipping containers, the game asks how many of one particular item you want to ship however in this iteration, it ships the full quantity. Since you use the shipping container almost every day, you could understand that this gets quite frustrating after a while and seems like an oversight.

As is in all Story of Seasons game, your backpack starts off very small and this entry is no exception. However, the difference here is that the backpack is considerably smaller than usual, forcing you to pay 6000 gold in order to upgrade it. This may seem like standard practise, but the game isn’t very clear as to how much gold you’ll be earning when you ship off items, making the process tedious. I thought that after I shipped an item once, it would then tell me every time, but that wasn’t the case.

You are only occasionally told when there is a festival which for a Story of Seasons game is ludicrous! As many times as we played, we almost missed out on festivals and only found out about them by happening upon them by accident. The only festivals you will be told about are ones such as the Harvest Festival and the Chicken Festival. Even then, you are told about them a few days in advance, which for the busy farmer who is busy looking after their farm, means they are easy to overlook. During the first festival that we encountered, a story event was triggered as we were traversing through the forest. Having both the festival and the story both happen at once is quite overwhelming as this is generally planned out in a more cohesive manner. In addition to this, you’re only told of your objectives once, meaning that there is no task list in a menu. For anyone who’s played a video game with quests, you could easily understand how frustrating this can be.

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Considering Doraemon: Story of Seasons released only for PC and the Nintendo Switch, it seems incredibly lazy that there is no HD Rumble to be seen (felt). It didn’t have to be much but for a AAA release without a second thought, it’s quite disappointing to say the least.

Story

This iteration of Story of Seasons has much more of a story than your usual entry. As previously mentioned, this had a somewhat negative effect on the opening hour as what is generally a much smoother transition is instead used for character building and plot setting; that being said, it comes down to personal preference. The addition adds a nice change of pace to the regular setup which may be welcomed to some.

The combination of Story of Seasons and Doraemon is a fantastic fit that works seamlessly. The game contains many cutscenes which help to progress the story but can also become a hinderance when they occur back to back.

Graphics / Art Direction

The art style is probably what you drew you to this game in the first place with a beautiful watercolour aesthetic. Couple that with the Doraemon manga art style that blends well with the game’s presentation. The border is also something I thought would be distracting at first, but I ended up finding it calming.

The water effects are absolutely stunning, to the point where you can see every ripple and even your own reflection blend with them. There must have been a whole team working on the water itself, that’s how good it is!

Music / Sound Design

The game’s soundtrack is wonderfully calming, to a point where I could close my eyes and drift peacefully to sleep. When you have that soundtrack with the beautiful watercolour art style and that is, without doubt, the game’s best feature.

In the localisation, the game’s voice acting has remained in Japanese but with English dialogue. This isn’t necessarily a negative if you enjoy watching anime and Japanese shows/films with Japanese voice acting and English subtitles but for someone unaware of this, it may come across as jarring. The voice acting however is to a high standard so if you are one who appreciates that (like myself), then you’ll have a great time.

Final Score: 61%

Doraemon: Story of Seasons is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The presentation is beautiful and relaxing, but the unintuitive gameplay and the ambiguous quest system leaves you just as frustrated as ever. For longtime fans of the series, Doraemon: Story of Seasons will see that this iteration is an out of date game with a pretty coat of paint.

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Posted by Rachelle Suri-Tucker