Wild Season for PC
Oh, early access games. It’s hard to know where to start when you’re trying to form an opinion of an unfinished product, and let’s be clear: Wild Season is definitely an unfinished product. A farming RPG in the style of something like the Harvest Moon series, this charming yet rough title seems pretty ambitious but numerous issues are still holding it back. While many of these, presumably, are likely to be resolved in the months to come before the game’s official release, it’s hard to know in advance which features are broken, and which are just poorly-designed.
Wild Season is, as I mentioned, a farming sim crossed with an RPG. Most of the game’s action is centered around an abandoned farm that, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, you’ve recently purchased after cashing in all of your life savings to give up the city life. Arriving in the rural town of Bedford Valley after a nasty car accident, players are introduced to some of the locals who then show them to their newly-obtained prize: a dilapidated farm filled with weeds, stones, and fallen logs that make it virtually impossible to do any actual farming.
After this introduction, the current issues with Wild Season really start to pile up. With limited gamepad support, awkward and ill-conceived keyboard controls, and no real mouse interactivity players are forced to choose between one of these poor options for actually playing. In addition, the game is slow to respond to controls and at times may not respond at all. Just to drive home the tedium, players are tasked first with clearing out the field they hope to plant in. This means pulling up the inventory menu, navigating to a tool, equipping it, closing the inventory menu, and finally swinging the tool in a slowly-animated sequence. Since the field is littered with different obstacles each requiring a different tool to clear, you’ll find yourself going through this repetition dozens of times just to begin thinking about creating an actual farm space — at least the monotony of it captures the excitement of real-life farming, I suppose!
Where Wild Season seems to get some things right is mostly in the RPG elements. With plenty of NPCs inhabiting the town, minigames to explore and a plot that seems to revolve around the mysterious means by which you’ve come into ownership of the farm, there’s quite a bit to take your mind off of the farm itself. Still, since the farm is the central hub of your activity and your only means of income, most of your time is spent working the fields to clean up, till, plant, water, and harvest the slow-growing crops that serve as your lifeblood.
Most of the town’s residents are also blindly mistrustful of outsiders such as yourself, and players will often find themselves berated, shooed, offered buy-outs, or otherwise discouraged from keeping up the task of making the farm something other than a plot of wasted dirt. Between the fumbling mechanics, boring play, and oppressive locals, I found myself very tempted to accept the buyout — but, of course, actually taking the deal isn’t an option.
All things considered, Wild Season has a long way to go before I can put a stamp of approval on it. It’s got the makings of something interesting, but until some improvements to the controls are available, it’s almost impossible to judge. In its current state I can’t imagine a way to spin this so that I feel it’s worth the Early Access discount of $26.99 on Steam. That’s a pretty hefty tag on any unfinished product, and Wild Season had better be far from finished if Quickfire Games have any intention of raising that price, which they say they do. Suffice it to say, I’ll keep tabs on Wild Season for now and perhaps offer up a proper review once launch rolls around, but in the current state I can’t possibly recommend it unless you’re already so enamored with the idea of a Harvest Moon-style experience on the PC that you’re willing to gamble with the never-certain beast that is Early Access.