Wild Season: Episode 1 Review

Games | Nov 30, 2015

Quickfire Games Wild Season

Years before Farmville bastardized the idea of a farming game and turned it into a shallow money pit of microtransactions, a title called Harvest Moon was released, which perfectly encapsulated the fantasy and charm of running your own little quaint farm. Now Wild Season, a title from Filipino indie studio Quickfire Games, is trying to recapture the same magic that made Harvest Moon such a hit back then. But while it does enough to be distinctly different than its inspiration, Wild Season feels like a Harvest Moon game. It even looks like a Harvest Moon game. But is it as, if not more, fun than a Harvest Moon game?

Not quite-- at least, it's not there yet.

But before we get to the nitty-gritty parts of this review, let's get this out of the way. If you are not a fan of Farming games or Harvest Moon-esque games, Wild Season will not change your mind. Still interested? Good. Let's get started.

Wild Season begins by warmly welcoming you to Bedford Valley. A town that is not at all suspicious, and whose citizens are all honest people with nothing to hide. You just bought a farm here from a random stranger you met on the road. With nothing but the clothes on your back and the help of your new neighbors, you begin your rosy life as farmer in the countryside.

Except that's not at all true.

The people of Bedford hate you and want nothing more than for you to leave. There is a festering mystery behind the rose-colored facade of the small town. And the farm you bought is in ruins.

What is immediately noticeable about the game is its incredibly polished sprite work and soothing background music. The game features a cartoonish aesthetic that serves well enough to give each character (and his corresponding in-game sprite) a distinct look that makes him easily identifiable and memorable.

Wild Season, beyond the gameplay, relies on its central narrative to hook you in and the effectiveness of which relies primarily on how well you can tolerate Wild Season's cartoonish writing. The humor works well enough but any scene that requires weight or gravitas, Wild Season simply can't deliver. The writing feels incredibly stilted and one dimensional, a quality that just doesn't work outside of gags. But it gets worse. The story itself sometimes gets in the way of the gameplay. Your time farming can be annoyingly interrupted due to the plot deciding that you need to be elsewhere. Be it on a date, a fishing contest, or breaking into someone's house.

Gameplay wise, Wild Season is a game you've played before. Quickfire Games advertised the game as "...takes its foundation from the greats within the farming simulation visual novel, and RPG genres and delivers them with a twist." Quickfire Games certainly delivered with the first half of that statement but fails with the latter. Wild Season definitely has trappings of other games of the genre but it doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from those games. Its farming mechanic feels very much like that of Harvest Moon and I realize it's unfair to Wild Season that I keep on comparing it to what amounts to be the best game in that genre, but if you're taking queues from a popular, albeit niche, game. You better make sure you do enough to differentiate yourself from that game. And Wild Season simply does not do enough to be unique. It's not just a Harvest Moon like game, it is a Harvest Moon game. Normally that would be a bad thing but when was the last time you've even heard or even played a Harvest Moon game?

But is it a good Harvest Moon game? Again-- not quite.

The mechanics are quite solid and work well enough that I found myself, hours into the game, enthralled and wracking my brain to formulate crop rotations so I can maximize profits for the least amount of work in the shortest amount of time. But the amount of content is a bit sparse and lacking. Seeds are few and season-locked and upgrades feel lacking and also lackluster. Wild Season feels like it should have more but it doesn't. Maybe the developers are coming up with other gameplay features for future episodes but episode 1, as a base game, is bare bones and in need of meat.

The controls are very basic, fitting for a simple game like Wild Season, although they definitely need getting used to. One frustrating experience with the controls is when you go fishing. The button used to cast your line is not the same button you use to reel it in.

I would gladly recommend Wild Season to people itching for a decent farming simulator if not for the glaring problems I have with the game.

Simply put Wild Season is a buggy piece of work.

It sure looks polished but frame rate issues and game breaking bugs makes the experience less than ideal. One bug locked me out of a side quest because an NPC simply stopped being interactable. Another crashed the game when a scripted event played out, while I was in the middle of exiting a building. Worst of all was when my chicken (who I lovingly named in-game as Cocky) disappeared without a trace simply because I interacted with her.

Quickfire Games has acknowledged the issues about the game being buggy and they've promised that they will be releasing patches that will fix it. They also promise that future episodes will be cheaper and contain the game's storyline (which is fairly mediocre) as well as expanded gameplay elements (which is great).

That said, until they release the bug fixes, I cannot in good conscience recommend this game. Wild Season is too buggy to be worth the price it's asking. I can definitely see potential in this game. That's why I'm not writing Wild Season off.

If the plethora of bugs are fixed and if future episodes fluff up the lacking content only then will Wild Season be gain a unabashed recommendation but as of right now, you can skip this one. 

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