I want nothing more than to praise Wild Season, to rave about how wonderful this adorable farming sim is, and to encourage everyone to get lost in its mysteries and charm. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this game in its current state… and it breaks my heart.
Wild Season is a Harvest Moon clone with a somewhat devious twist. Like most farming games, your adventure begins when you purchase a run-down farm and set out to achieve financial stability, overhaul and expand your farm, and fall in love. Unlike most farming sims, you do not find yourself surrounded by a happy, friendly and encouraging community. Your new home of Bedford Valley is a close knit town which would love nothing more than for you abandon your farm and head back to your life in the city. Some of the townspeople will be impolite to you, some will threaten you, some will even try to bribe you, but everyone will work to drive you away, and to protect the town’s secret.
This opposition, a far cry from the usual endless, relentless, and often obnoxious optimism presented in other farming games, makes Wild Season incredibly addicting by giving you inspiration to prove all of these individuals wrong. Bedford Valley is a hostile place, and it has an enticing secret which you will have to uncover if you want to feel comfortable enough to call this place home. The combination of the mysterious, the dangerous and the unknown does a great job of piquing your interest, and provides a wonderful distraction for the monotony of farm work.
The characters are distinct and have big personalities. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you overcome the innate suspicion of a favorite character and start to form a friendship. Characters change their outfits with the seasons, dawning warm coats and hats during the chilly months, and have entertaining, silly little stories built into the bulletin board quest system. From the spunky little Pancah Giles, who is a bossy Sherlock Holmes wanna be, to Jack Brant, the local lumberjack who is quite literally obsessed with all things wood, to interestingly named Schenck family– Brock and Misty– I found myself quite entertained by the over the top personalities of the villagers, as well as the game’s self-deprecating sense of humor.
The game is also loaded with features. In addition to the overarching mystery to solve, Wild Season has huge mountain mine for you to explore, cooking, horse and dog races, fishing, festivals, bulletin board quests and more. You can even pursue same-sex relationships, so there is plenty to do to fill your days beyond farming and animal husbandry.
While the story is intriguing and the characters are fun, Wild Season suffers from a massive infestation of bugs. Some bugs are simply annoying, some are game-altering, and some can actually halt your gameplay entirely. Tool tips are almost entirely empty, and items such as seeds are lacking critical information, such as what season do these seeds grow in? How long do they take to grow? Do they only grow once, or are they renewable? The only way to find out is to purchase, plant, time, and remember.
There are layering issues which often cause sweet little old Luanna Knight to stand on top of the church’s altar instead of taking her place behind it, but these harmless little quirks are the least of the problems with Wild Season. For example, there is a persistent bug inside the mine which randomly causes the entire screen to go black. Players explore the mine, climbing up a mountain one level at a time, in hopes of finding better and more valuable ores. When this bug hits, the protagonist character remains visible while everything else on the screen goes black. You end up trapped within the mine, unable to advance, but equally unable to exit the mine. The black screen only seems to happen once every twenty to fifty floors, but it requires you to either restart and replay the game from your last save, likely causing you to replay the majority of the day, or to flail your hammer wildly around until you pass out, effectively wasting the rest of that day, and dooming yourself to start the next day with only half of your stamina.
Many bugs are less crippling, but just as disruptive. When using a gamepad, the shoulder buttons, which are used to switch tools, do not function at all. You can still select the necessary tool by using the keyboard, but this means letting go of the gamepad, which very much breaks the flow of the game. Crops sometimes get ‘stuck,’ and individual plants are not ready to be harvested at the correct time. Carrot seeds are supposed to be ready to harvest after 8 days, but one particularly stubborn carrot took 14 days to grow, despite constant watering and care. Seeds are sown 9 at a time into 3×3 blocks, and having a straggler can completely throw off your garden layout, requiring you to either destroy a plant, to till a new 3×3 square to plant, or to waste one of your valuable seeds and throw off your harvesting schedule by planting on that block anyway. In addition, the action key misses about one in twenty times, which can cause you to miss wearing a seed or sprout, further throwing off your harvesting schedules. This means that you have to double and triple check every single square every single day, and turns watering your crops from a simple chore to an obnoxious exercise.
My farm life was further crippled by my inability to purchase key tools, such as the milker and cooking implements. Despite uninstalling and reinstalling the game three times, the shops would take my money, but the tools would never appear in my inventory. Because of this, I was never able to unlock cooking, nor was I able to harvest milk. As animal husbandry and cooking are two major features of the game, my experience as well as my ability to properly monetize my farm was severely hindered–and that’s ignoring the roughly 22,250 Aur, the currency of Wild Season, which I wasted trying to purchase pots, knives, frying pans and milkers.
Normally, at this point in a review, I would be talking about how these bugs are simply a part of the process of a game still in Early Access, and that we can expect to see improvements and fixes in future updates. Unfortunately, I am unable to present this kind of optimism for Wild Season. The last update was released all the way back in June of this year. A few months without a major game update is understandable, but six months without any communication does not bode well for the future of this game.
Wild Season is a delightful farming sim with a darker, fascinating story and a mystery to be solved. Unfortunately, an abundance of bugs means that this game is virtually unplayable. With no game updates in recent history, and no word on bug fixes, this charming little game seems to be, heartbreakingly, dead in the water. Between Stardew Valley working well, and soon to be available on the PS4, and a new Story of Seasons game just around the corner, you’re probably better off taking Denise’s advice and going elsewhere, investing your money in another title.
Of course, the above statement only stands until Quickfire Games begins releasing updates again. Without a plethora of bugs crippling its gameplay, I would likely give Wild Season a rating of 7 or 8 out of 10. If the game is updated with bug fixes, I would love nothing more than to have the opportunity to revise this review. With cast of unique characters and an interesting and unusual storyline in addition to all the expected goodness of a farming sim, Wild Season could be a delightful game… Unfortunately there are currently too many bugs to be able to enjoy all that it has to offer
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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