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Review: Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (Nintendo 3DS)By Sasari At 11.10.2017 08:41

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The Story of Seasons games have always shown a focus on two major elements, the actual time-management farming and developing relationships with characters met in the world. This latest story sets the player as a character who has always wanted to be a farmer, but because of their father's job their family is regularly dragged from place to place. Just as the latest big upheaval of the family is about to happen and they are all about to be moved far to the West, the player character takes this opportunity to finally break away. Off he or she goes, then, to spend time with old "Uncle Frank," a kind and portly experienced agriculturist who is willing to guide the first steps of the budding new farmer on their new ranch.

While the game is entitled Trio of Towns it begins with just a single town available, Westown, an Old West style setup filled with friendly faces who are very welcoming of their new neighbour. Setting up in the new farm is a simple thing; there's a tiny shack to sleep in, with some boxes to store away things found or harvested. Outside there is a barn that can house a single animal and a coop for a single fowl, surrounded by a handful of plots of land ready for tilling and planting.

The game itself runs on an in-game clock that ticks away at a minute every second, meaning that getting through all of the daily tasks becomes a race against time as the farm grows and more activities build up, and there is a mammoth amount of activities to take part in. This is further complicated by a stamina bar, a series of small hearts that slowly deplete as physical actions are undertaken. The stamina can be recovered at least, by eating food either cooked up in a local restaurant or even cooked at home once the house is upgraded to include a kitchen but time, time never stops. The calendar moves, too, and is a constant factor in the progress of the farm; certain seasons mean only certain crops will grow and the weather can affect the animals, too, keeping them locked away and unable to graze.

In the first days and weeks of farm life, a repetitive cycle that is reminiscent of the many farming phone games out there is prevalent. Wake up, milk the cow, collect the egg from the chicken, check the animals have food, put the animals out during the day, harvest crops, water crops, complete "daily quests" in town, put animals in before night and repeat. It seems the sort of thing that would be horrendously dull, yet it is surprisingly addictive and a fantastic way to unwind in much the same way titles like Animal Crossing and Farmville are. Then it gets even better as the seasons progress and more elements begin to open up. Suddenly, the daily routine can't all be done in the day as the farm grows bigger and side activities like mining, fishing, chopping down trees and scavenging for items all become available.

After more time passes, the two other towns become available, adding essential new elements that really expand the game. The second town, Lulukoko, is a Hawaiian style resort with a beach to fish from, some tropical seeds to plant and, most importantly, a young man named Ludus who offers two absolutely essential services. The first allows tools to be modified, to improve their effectiveness and use less stamina, especially important when increasing mining power, which feeds into Ludus' most important offering, Farm Circles. These are elements of the farm itself, which can be built, improving the house, building more fields or bigger barns for more animals and the like. The third town, Tsuyukusa, is a Japanese style farming community with bamboo trees and monkeys; it's also home to an ancient shrine whose inhabitant rewards some special items.

There is a mammoth amount of things to do as these towns all open up and the story progresses. All of these towns, for example, have a "Town Rank" to increase. Undertaking quests for the town, such as helping the residents with their chores, speaking with the residents (even just sprinting past and hitting the L trigger to shout a hello) or taking part in big town events like cooking competitions or harvest festivals, all contributes to increasing the Town Rank. Starting at E, each Town Rank can be increased to A and there are some bigger tasks to accomplish when on the border between rankings, which again add more things to do. Not to mention a set of "Farm Tip" challenges from Uncle Frank; ancient ruins with a witch inside to complete tasks for - there are wild animals to befriend, pets to train and so much more. This will keep players busy for a very long time indeed!

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[i]Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns[/i] could have been a repetitive and tedious experience, and indeed the first few days playing it seems to deliver exactly that, but this breaks expectations in the long run. It manages to keep a steady flow of new gameplay elements and mechanics to continually keep the action interesting. This is the perfect title to chill out with after a long stressful day, and thanks to its addictive gameplay and huge amount of things to do, it's one to keep returning to again and again.



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