Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos Review

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 1:00 pm

A promising game hurt by a punishing stamina system.

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is now available on consoles and PC. 

We had the chance to check out the Switch version of the game.

What is Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos? What’s this game about?

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is the latest title in the long-running Harvest Moon video game series. The farming and life simulation game takes players to a fantasy world where the Harvest Goddess and Harvest Sprites have fallen into a deep sleep after using their power to protect the people of the surrounding villages from a volcanic eruption 10 years ago.

As a result of the Harvest Sprites’ actions, most of the land’s villages have been cut off from the outside world by impenetrable rock walls that have appeared around each one. Players will be able to remove these walls as they work to revive the Harvest Sprites and Harvest Goddess.

(The Harvest Moon franchise has a complicated history. The original series of Harvest Moon games from developer Marvelous became “Story of Seasons,” and the current Harvest Moon games are released by a different company, Natsume.)

How do you play this game?

When players first begin Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos, they’ll be able to become a male or female character, customize their character’s appearance, and give their character a name. From there, they’ll be taken to Lenctenbury Village, where they can begin creating a new life for themselves in this colorful in-game world.

The Winds of Anthos allows players to grow crops, go fishing, raise livestock and other animals (including pets), cook dishes, collect resources, craft objects, go mining, and more. The game features main quests that can be completed to drive the story forward, as well as side quests that players can complete if they choose to do so. Players can also get married to one of the game’s 10 marriage candidates, and according to GameSkinny, same-sex relationships are supported.

The game uses a day and night cycle that sees time pass very quickly during each in-game day. Players have a limited amount of stamina (energy) to use each day, and this stamina is depleted whenever players complete actions, including simply walking around. Players can eat crops and dishes to regain some of their stamina, and they can eventually unlock upgrades that increase their maximum stamina (though these upgrades are hard to come by).

The Winds of Anthos features a large in-game world that’s divided into different sections. Each section has one or more warp statues players can activate that will enable them to quickly move to these locations at any time, rather than being required to walk everywhere on foot (or ride a mount). Players can also discover a variety of different farming locations, and they can move their home, animal barn, and other structures to a different area whenever they’d like (once they complete the game’s introductory sequence).

The game features four in-game months, with each one themed to one of the four seasons. Some areas of the world experience all four seasons, while others are locked to a single season. For instance, the game’s starting area, Lenctenbury Village, is constantly in Spring.

Source: Natsume

Each crop has one or more “preferred” seasons that give players a general guideline for when they should be grown. Crops can also “mutate” at random depending on the season and the location where they’re grown. As a couple of examples, Broccoli can mutate into Yggdrasil, and Strawberry Pansies can mutate into Orange Pansies.

Unlike a previous Harvest Moon game, Harvest Moon: One World, mutations feel like a fun bonus in The Winds of Anthos, rather than a punishment. That is, when a crop mutates in The Winds of Anthos, players will receive both the mutation and the original crop they planted once it’s harvested. This means players won’t be penalized if they’re trying to grow a particular crop to complete a quest and it mutates.

Rather than being required to purchase seeds, players can collect a wide variety of free seeds by interacting with Harvest Wisps that can be found throughout the in-game world. Once players have collected a seed type once, they can use the game’s search function to find more Wisps that are carrying the same kind of seed. This makes it very easy for players to find the seeds they’re looking for if they need to grow a particular crop to complete a quest.

Players can sell any unwanted items they collect (like the crops they’ve grown) to receive coins that can be spent on various items at the game’s stores, like cooking recipes and fishing bait, among others.

As players explore the in-game world, they’ll come across wild animals like horses and foxes. Players can interact with these animals everyday in order to eventually tame them. Players can also purchase farm animals from in-game stores.

Players can have up to five barn animals, five chickens, and one pet at a time. The pet (like a fox) will live inside the player’s house, rather than the barn. Animals must be fed daily, and there are multiple ways to collect animal food (including purchasing it outright).

Finally, the game features a Photo Mode that allows players to take pictures (including selfies) with the in-game camera.

Source: Natsume

Is this game fun to play?

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos has a fun premise, and most of the game’s features are fun to experience. However, the game also has some major problems.

For one, the game’s stamina system is far too punishing. Since stamina drains even when players are walking around (and this drainage speed is increased if they’re in a “hot” or “cold” environment), it drains far too quickly, and players can easily run out of stamina for a day before they’ve accomplished anything meaningful toward their current story quest(s).

As we mentioned before, players can eat crops and dishes to refill their stamina, but if they’re trying to earn enough money to purchase a particular item, they’ll have to sacrifice (eat) items that could be sold just to have enough stamina to keep going. And while players can technically increase their maximum stamina, the collectibles required to do so are hard to find, so players may be stuck with minimal stamina for some time.

Similarly, players have limited inventory space to work with, which means they may find themselves repeatedly heading back home so they can store things away before being able to continue exploring. Players can also increase their maximum storage capacity, but these upgrades require the same collectibles as stamina upgrades, which means players will have to choose which upgrade (inventory space or stamina) matters more to them.

Source: Natsume

The game’s mining feature also isn’t very fun. To start, large rocks may appear in mines that block the path, and these rocks require a ton of stamina to remove. Rocks can also fall from the ceiling as players are mining, and if they hit players on the head, they’ll lose some stamina. 

The mining feature asks players to use a “dowsing” mechanic to find the ladder that leads to the next floor in the mine, as well as any resources that may be buried under the dirt. When players “dowse,” circles will appear on the mini-map, showing players the general location of a buried object or ladder. Players must dig in the exact center of the circle in order to find the buried object, which is sometimes easier said than done. And, again, when players accidentally dig in the wrong spot, they’re wasting valuable stamina that can’t be spared.

This mining system places a huge hurdle in front of players early on, as they’re required to find silver to repair their animal barn before they can leave the first village, which we found extremely frustrating.

Elsewhere, the game will give players lots of quests (both story quests and side quests) to complete at the same time, which can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, with the exception of timed quests, players can complete quests in the order they’d like, which means they can ignore some quests until they’re ready to tackle them.

Finally, on a technical level, we found the game’s graphics during rain storms to be far too dark, making it difficult to navigate the environment, especially in unfamiliar areas.

Overall, we have a lot of complaints about Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos, but most of them could have been avoided by simply removing the game’s stamina system altogether (or at least greatly increasing the amount of stamina players begin with). Without a stamina system, players wouldn’t be required to so heavily micromanage which tasks to complete each day (and which to ignore), and we’d be left with a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience as a result.

Source: Natsume

Is there anything else parents need to know about this game?

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos doesn’t feature voice acting, so players need to know how to read.

What’s the final verdict?

If you’re already a fan of farming and life simulation games similar to those in the Harvest Moon franchise (like Stardew Valley and the Story of Seasons games), you may find it easy to “deal with” the problems in Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos and still have fun with the experience. For instance, I came into The Winds of Anthos as an existing fan of the genre, and I mostly enjoyed the game, even though it does have issues I would change.

That being said, we can’t recommend the game for everyone, especially those looking for a more relaxed experience.

Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is now available on Switch, PlayStation consoles, Xbox consoles, and PC for $49.99. The game is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.

A Limited Edition version of Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos has also been released by Natsume and NIS America for Switch, PlayStation consoles, and Xbox Series X for $84.99. The Limited Edition includes the main game, the game’s soundtrack CD, a Harvest Moon 25th Anniversary Sleepytime Cow Plush, a set of six animal pins, and a collector’s box. This Limited Edition version of Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos is available on the NIS America website.

Disclosure: SuperParent received a code for Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos for coverage purposes.

Brandy Berthelson

Brandy Berthelson has been writing about video games and technology since 2006, with her work appearing on sites including AOL Games, Digital Spy, and Adweek. When she’s not gaming, Brandy enjoys crafting, baking, and traveling with her husband.

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