Let's start with fact number one: Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is not the same Harvest Moon title that came out this February in Japan. As far as we know, there's no scheduled American release date for it. The Lost Valley is a new title entirely that's both developed and published by Natsume. It isn't out in Japan and, in fact, it's unknown if it will even be released there at all.
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley takes place in a town where they only have one season: winter. The Harvest Goddess recruits the player to bring back the other seasons and save the town. Its style is reminiscent of Harvest Moon 64, and the gameplay brings equal parts nostalgic elements and new developments. They've taken out some of the more complicated elements of recent Harvest Moons — no more workshop or freshness ratings — and they've made the basics more enjoyable.
Instead of cluttering your bags with a dozen or more tools to take care of your plants and livestock, The Lost Valley has intuitive controls. When you walk up to plowed land, you can press a button to plant seeds. Press another button to water it, and tap it again to fertilize. You can talk to, milk, and brush your cows without having to switch between the milker and brush. Your animals also have bubbles over their heads to tell you what they need, alleviating a lot of the guesswork of getting everything done each day. Cows, sheep, chickens, and horses return, along with some other animals as well. New crops can also be expected. Celery and barley were both mentioned, and broccoli will be making its return.
Natsume has also added a Minecraft-like element to let you shape the world. Change the elevation of your land by adding platforms to plant on, digging a fishing hole, or removing obstacles to create a shortcut into town. Shape your land exactly as you want it. At this early stage, I'm unsure what difference it'll make aside from aesthetics, but it was implied that there will be an effect caused by different elevations.
I only got a small taste of Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley at E3 2014, but it left me wanting more. The emphasis of quality over quantity and the old-school style combine in a way that Natsume hopes will please even the most jaded fan of the genre. We don't have to wait too long, either: Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is scheduled for release on 3DS and 2DS this fall in North America.
More articles about Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley