World’s Dawn plays a lot like Harvest Moon, but goes by a different name – something that’s been happening an awful lot, in recent events. What most people know as the Harvest Moon series goes by the name of Story of Seasons in the West, now, due to a falling out with localizing publisher Natsume, who actually owned the Harvest Moon name. So, what is World’s Dawn then, you may ask? It’s a Kickstarter-funded life simulator game styled very much after the Harvest Moon series. Is a Harvest Moon by any other name play just as sweet? Let’s find out.
World’s Dawn is an RPG Maker game inspired by Harvest Moon. As such, you’ll tend to crops and livestock, forage, fish, mine, and potentially meet a romance one of three eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. The game is set in a rural town and, after a brief introduction to most of the game’s characters, you’re set on your own to begin farming. This game does not try to improve upon the Harvest Moon formula: It seeks to reiterate the magic of a series not commonly copied.
You create your own character in World’s Dawn, though it is done with extremely simplistic options. You even get the opportunity to decide on your romance options, as it will ask you if you prefer boys, girls, or both. After introducing yourself to each other member of the town you moved into, you begin a series of events that essentially just constitutes running errands for the townsfolk. You’ll obtain items such as a watering can, seeds, and tools to till and shape the land- each of these are important for the farming aspect of the game, which is by far the most important mechanic of the game.
Farming is extremely straightforward and exactly what you would expect from a game inspired by Harvest Moon. Till a space of land, use seeds to plant crops, water the aforementioned plants, and then harvest the crops to earn the almighty dollar. You can sell your raised plants and vegetables, or you can also gift them to the townspeople to increase friendship or romance them.
There are plenty of shops and characters to interact with in World’s Dawn, as well as festivals that approach with each passing season. There are two markets in each of the four seasons, which each offers specific seasonal ingredients that can be used in a variety of ways, such as cooking. There are also three festivals per season, each of which have minigames or some kind of goal that ties in to the rest of the game.
Much of the progression in World’s Dawn is giving gifts to various characters in the game to either increase friendship or romance, lots of farming, and then waiting for significant events such as festivals. There’s a never-ending stream of things to do in this game, as you’ll be constantly and marginally improving your tools, relationships, and farming throughout your time spent in World’s Dawn.
The dialogue also takes on the Harvest Moon feel- characters may wind up repeating themselves multiple times as you grind out the next friendship level with them, but that’s usually to be expected when you’re giving them the same Sweet & Sour Shrimp every single day for a whole season. Many of the characters actually have backstories and feel fairly natural during much of their dialogue, as a result (which may have caused me to be more forgiving of the repetitious conversation text). The three male and female marriage candidates receive the most of the conversation and motivation expansion in World’s Dawn, for obvious reasons.
World’s Dawn’s visuals are quite nice for an RPG Maker game. All of the art assets were created in a simple but colorful hand-drawn aesthetic, and most of the sprites are designed so that you can easily recognize what the player is looking at without any issue. The character portraits are drawn quite well, with a feel that easily evokes thoughts of Harvest Moon through most of the characters. The music is extremely fitting in nearly all cases, though not entirely memorable in any regard.
Overall, World’s Dawn is a simple Harvest Moon game: It doesn’t want to make improvements on the Harvest Moon formula, just recreate it for those who had been starving for such a game since last year’s Story of Seasons or for those without a 3DS.
Not advancing the formula isn’t a bad thing by any regard, but it does mean that whether or not you will like the game is wholly dependent on how much you enjoyed the earlier Harvest Moon games, such as Harvest Moon 64. Those who can appreciate the Harvest Moon series will appreciate World’s Dawn as a great diversion since it has hours of content, while those who are unfamiliar with the Harvest Moon games or abhor them will want to stay far, far away from World’s Dawn.