Released in the past week, Harvestella is one of many new RPGs released by Square Enix in the past year. This one has a twist though – it’s also a farming sim. The player is dropped into a world governed by crystals which features a fifth season, Quietus, that brings death and destruction. In between managing crops and befriending villagers, players must battle monsters and find out how to stop Quietus.
With its unique premise, Harvestella will appeal to a specific audience who love life sims and RPGs in equal measure. However, even though the game has a lengthy runtime, it’s still likely to leave that audience wanting more once they’re done with it. Fortunately, it’s not the only RPG out there that features management or life sim elements, so there are plenty of options for those looking for more.
7/7 Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin
While mostly an action game rather than an RPG, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin has the feeling of an action RPG. Players can upgrade their gear and there are stats to manage even within the frantic side-scrolling beat-em-up action. Most importantly though, all this action is in service of rice farming. The player is Princess Sakuna, a harvest goddess who has to escape from an island of demons while also helping out a group of humans who have faced the same fate.
Survival in this environment is built around ensuring a ready supply of rice, grown through a series of minigames to control tilling, planting, and fertilizing. The two sides of the game complement each other. Defeated enemies drop resources for farming, and farming helps increase Sakuna’s stats to make her stronger.
6/7 ActRaiser Renaissance
Sakuna wasn’t the first game to combine side-scrolling action with town management, as ActRaiser did the same thing back in the early 1990s on the SNES. In its original release, it was just a simple side scroller paired with SimCity-style town management elements. But its remake, ActRaiser Renaissance, released in 2021 with significantly more RPG elements.
The side-scrolling elements can now be influenced by stat boosts, while the town management elements now feature additional tower defense sections. It’s a drastic shift up from the original that promises a more in-depth experience than the game it’s a remake of.
5/7 Little King’s Story
Originally released for the Wii and now available for Steam and GOG.com, Little King’s Story places the player in the shoes of King Corobo, a small boy who finds a crown that makes him king of a magical village. Now he must manage his kingdom and turn it into a prosperous land, mostly by commanding his loyal followers to do his bidding.
The game itself is a combination of a top-down action adventure and a town management sim. Corobo has to manage resources in order to improve the town’s buildings and train up his villagers’ skills. With enough improvement, Corobo can lead his followers out into the world to battle monsters, with his followers doing the fighting on his command.
4/7 Dark Cloud
An older game, Dark Cloud originally released in 2001 for the PS2, and featured a boy named Toan caught up in a catastrophe that sees his whole village destroyed. However, there is hope, as elements of his village have been transported into some local caves. He ventures in to retrieve the pieces in order to rebuild his village, then go on to repeat the process in other affected towns.
The gameplay is a cross between a dungeon crawler and town management. When Toan finds villagers and buildings in the game’s dungeons, he can return to the surface and rebuild the town, allowing the player to customize it to their liking while also trying to meet villager requests for extra bonuses. Dark Cloud is a lot of fun, and a remaster is now available on PS4 and PS5.
3/7 Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom
Harvest Moon was the original farming sim RPG, and it continues to this day under the new name of Story of Seasons. Released in the same week as Harvestella, this latest entry is also the franchise’s second collaboration with iconic manga Doraemon. The premise is similar to standard Story of Seasons, except Doraemon and his friends are on hand to help with farming thanks to his array of gadgets.
Of course, there are plenty of other Story of Seasons games available, including the recent entry Pioneers of Olive Town, for those who aren’t interested in the Doraemon elements. Gameplay is still largely the same, as the player grows their farm and befriends the locals for a nice chill time.
2/7 Dragon Quest Builders
Bringing together the surprising combination of classic JRPG franchise Dragon Quest and the crafting and building gameplay of Minecraft, Dragon Quest Builders puts players into a ruined world and tasks them with rebuilding it.
The game plays out much like Minecraft, with the player having to collect and place blocks of different materials together to build structures while fending off attacks from monsters. Unlike Minecraft, however, there is a story here. Residents of the player’s camp will have requests for structures they’d like to see built.
1/7 Rune Factory 5
Story of Seasons got so popular that it spawned its own spin-off series, Rune Factory. However, unlike typical Story of Seasons games, the Rune Factory series is set in a fantasy world where, in addition to tilling the land, players must venture onto quests to save the land from danger.
The latest entry, Rune Factory 5, sees the player taking on the role of a ranger in a fantasy town, completing tasks for their fellow residents, from growing specific crops to heading out and battling monsters threatening the town’s safety. Ultimately, their goal is to seek out the secrets behind mysterious rune stones that may be involved in a series of strange events around the town.
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