Friday, 2 November 2007

Harvest Moon: Innocent Life

Harvest Moon is a series of games that I have discovered in the last few months. I was in despair, I could find no games that I liked to play on my PSP. I must say though, that I am quite fussy when it come to games. Racing games bore me, shoot 'em ups with blood, gore and huge weapons of mass destruction are way to violent for my pacifist tendencies, sport games are not worth the effort, that leaves very little else, that isn't aimed at pre-pubescent children. When I found the game Innocent Life: a futuristic Harvest Moon, the blurb on the back of the box had me hooked...

Till the rough soil and grow crops on your land!
Raise a selection of different farm animals!
Explore the near future world of Heartflame Island!
Meet new people and make friends in the town!

I bought the game and immediately fell in love with it after the first minute of playing. Finally a game where you do not have to kill or destroy anything, on the contrary, you have to rebuild and grow. You have to be kind and considerate, amicable and thrifty, manage your time and resources to gain maximum rewards, be those jewels, happy cows or upgraded tools. The graphics are wonderful and Natsume and Rising Star Games really did well with this game. That is, in my humble opinion, many reviews on the Internet rated it poorly, but these misguided folk probably love killing, blood, war and weapons, and are too uncultured to have picked up on the finer points of this game.

The philosophy behind the game deals with man's relationship with the Earth and its inhabitants. The way we treat Mother Nature, and the way modern man, races towards mass production and automation, without considering the destructive impacts he is having. It reminds us of our place on this Earth, and our role as temporary caretakers of the planet. The dialogue in the game, can often be read on many levels as the game is designed for ages 7 and older however, some of its themes are quite mature. To complete the game totally, and extract maximum pleasure, is a task that I enjoyed doing. It whiled away many hours whilst I sat in the train on a daily commute, and, provided an escape from the hubbub of the morning and evening rush hour. In my attempt to play the game to its utmost, I did turn to help from fellow players, one in particular, Freyashawk. She writes guides for Harvest Moon games, and is herself a great fan of the genre, for there are many more Harvest Moon games apart from Innocent Life. Her extremely well written guide(s) provided more insight and value into the game. I did not follow her walk-through to the letter, but extracted many useful answers to questions I had. Her guides are indeed well worth the time to read. It is evident that she invests much time in writing them.

If you are feeling like there is nothing good left in this world, try playing Harvest Moon, It'll certainly bring peace to your heart and a smile to your face, it did to mine!

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