Hello and welcome to part two of my series on the differences between Stardew Valley and Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. If you missed it, you can find part one here. As always, enjoy and feel free to comment below with any comments or suggestions–no one is perfect which means mistakes happen and I’d rather know about them than leave them sitting there!
Variety of Materials and Animals
There certainly seems to be a larger variety of materials available throughout Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. There is a greater variety in animal products and the things that can be done with them. In Stardew Valley, eggs come in regular or large sized and can be used to cook, be sold, or used to make mayonnaise (regular, duck, void, or dino) and milk from cows and goats also comes in large or regular and can be used in cooking, sold, or turned into cheese (regular or goat). Story of Seasons, on the other hand, does not have ducks but features two different kinds of chickens: regular chicken and a silkie chicken. These chickens lay eggs that, like all products created on the farm, change in value depending on ranking on a 10-star scale and can also be + eggs which are worth more. The eggs in Story of Seasons can also be used in cooking, sold, or turned into mayonnaise which isn’t too different from Stardew Valley except that there are more varieties of eggs in Stardew Valley which create a variety of mayonnaise as opposed to the one base kind in Story of Seasons. There is more potential in the materials created with milk, however. Story of Seasonsfeatures a wider range of animals that create milk products, though the products come out the same regardless whether the milk used is cow, goat, or buffalo. The milk can be cooked with, sold as-is, or turned into cheese, yogurt, or butter. This gives a larger diversity in the products themselves though the variety is lost in crafting because the products don’t distinguish what type of milk they’re made of once they’ve been turned into something.
There is a much larger variety in the range of wool and cloth crafting. You can create cloth out of one kind of wool in Stardew Valley. In Story of Seasons, you can create rabbit cloth in three colors: regular, grey, or pink, sheep cloth in either regular or Suffolk, and alpaca cloth in regular or brown. These different colored fabrics can be used in conjunction with paints made from flowers or thread and cloth made from one of several types of grass to make clothes. They can also be sold, if desired. One of the nice things with the animals in Story of Seasons is that the first animal of each type with the exception (I believe) of the pink rabbit, will be located on your farm where you can tame it for free once you have the necessary building created with materials found around the farm and the required animal care level. The breeding of animals also costs money in Story of Seasons where it is free in Stardew Valley. However, once the breeding kit is applied in Story of Seasons, you are guaranteed a baby animal from the maternal animal you selected. In Stardew Valley, while it is free, the breeding process is random, unpredictable, and unreliable if you are hoping for a specific animal species to breed.
The amount of materials found around the farm seems to be significantly more variable in Story of Seasons as well. There are at least five kinds of wood and grass that I’ve discovered, clay is easier to find and there is a large variety of products such as flowers or random crops that will appear around the farm to be picked up. This variety surpasses that of Stardew Valley by quite a bit. My only dislike with the amount of materials and their availability around the farm in Story of Seasons is the speed with which they regrow. It feels like I’ll spend a whole game day, if not two, clearing out trees, grass, and rocks from my farm and then spend a few days focusing on the town and crafting and, the next thing I know, everything is back. It’s helpful initially when trying to farm materials to build things, but certainly becomes annoying once you’ve got stacks on stacks of different materials sitting in chests.
Next up here is the land itself. As I mentioned previously, it can be frustrating trying to move around trees, puddles, and grass as they pop up in Story of Seasons. When you first start out in Story of Seasons, you only have access to one of three sections of the farm. The other two are able to be unlocked relatively easily once you get the materials to craft the necessary bridges and inclines to get to the next area. Initially, this lack of space can be frustrating, particularly when combined with the forever-spawning materials. It is true that in Stardew Valley there are some places you can’t quite get to or shortcuts you can’t use right away depending on the farm layout you chose, but almost all of the farmland is immediately available. It just needs cleared out which takes a minute or two, but the resources (other than trees) don’t instantly pop back up on a daily basis.
Although, I have to admit that the initial lack of space, while it did leave me frustrated at not having much space to work with initially, worked out decently enough. It prevented me from planting too many crops right away and get a feel for the town and how the gameplay works without being too worried about clearing out the whole farm. The inability to plant a ton of crops might be problematic for some, but I decided that it was alright as I prefer not to spend my entire game day watering crops. You bet I put those sprinklers down the second they were unlocked in both games! Seriously—I can’t consistently water real-life plants, I sure as heck forget to water my in-game crops more than I care to admit!
Mining! What would you prefer: entering a mine with moles that you take down in Whack-A-Mole form or mines filled to the brim with monsters that are hell-bent on ending your existence? Yeah, I’ll take the Whack-A-Mole one too. Though there’s nothing wrong with preferring slime, skeleton, ghost, moth, and bat-filled caverns. Everyone enjoys playing differently and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For those on the combat-avoidance side, have I got news for you: Story of Seasons features moles in varying strengths starting from the second mine. When they pop up, you just bop those little buggers right back to where they came from (it can take a few hits depending on the mole) and you’re good to go. Or you can just avoid them!
The first mine in Stardew Valley is 120 levels deep and the other two mines (that I’m aware of—I’m a chaotic gamer which is my way of saying that I have the attention span of a peanut and bounce between games like a toddler on a trampoline) are equally monster-filled. I have to admit that, after three years, I still have not made it more than two floors into either of the other two mines in Stardew Valley because I always get taken out by monsters. So far, I’ve managed to avoid being beaten down by a mole in Story of Seasons. One of the cool things about the mines in Story of Seasons is that they are all located on the farm. This, of course, negates the need for a minecart-powered travel system. I also appreciate not having to race as hard to beat that 2:00 bedtime hour when I spend too much time hanging out in the mine.
The first mine in Story of Seasons is only ten levels and is located in the initial section of the farm. The second mine, which becomes available upon unlocking the second farm area, is 30 levels deep and introduces the player to the first mole. Upon reaching the bottom of this mine, you will be granted access to the Lava Caves where you can play a mini-game crushing rocks. Unfortunately, you don’t get to keep the materials harvested in the mini-game. It’s still entertaining though! Similarly to Stardew Valley, certain levels of mines in Story of Seasons also have lakes that can be fished in. The third mine has 50 floors and it is certainly challenging trying to get all the way down. One of the things that I do miss from the mines in Stardew Valley is the elevator that let you go down to a level you had previously reached and move forward from there. This isn’t an option in Story of Seasons, so you have to get from the first floor to the fiftieth floor in one go if you plan on getting all the way to the bottom.
Once you reach a certain mining level, the Navi-Sprite also gives you access to Stonebreaker Valley which is essentially a beach covered in rocks and ore for you to mine. This has become my go-to spot to find Orichalcum as it isn’t present until the later levels of the third mine otherwise.
Full disclosure moment—I suck at fishing in video games and really dislike when a game requires me to fish. The fishing in Stardew Valley isn’t too bad once you’re able to get better fishing rods and use bait and lures. I still tend to avoid it once I’ve completed the fish tank collections at the community center though. Story of Seasons made me excited to fish. I have never been excited to fish in a game in my life and I am in this one. The mechanics of reeling in the fish makes it much simpler, though it is very difficult to catch certain fish until you have a better rod with higher durability. I absolutely love that I can finally fish in a game without being stressed out over it (even Animal Crossing: New Horizons stresses me out when I fish).
Story of Seasons also seems to have far more special locations that one can visit. Four of these can be unlocked with the spirit in the forest and are locations that remain in one season eternally. These four locations seem to replace the greenhouse from Stardew Valley because you can grow winter crops in Hoarfrost Gardens year-round and spring crops in the spring location (which I can’t remember the name of at this moment) year-round, and so on. Stonebreaker Valley I mentioned previously in the discussion on mining as well as the Lava Caves. Beanstalk Island is another mini-game location. The Ancient Lake can be drained similarly to the larger lakes on your farm to get collectible materials and will refill eventually. The final location I can recall at this moment is the Sprite Village where you can assign the little sprites you find while working on the farm to various types of work. Each day, you can speak to the head Grass, Mining, Chef, Care, Angler, Wood, Field, or Journey sprite to receive goodies and materials that they’ve collected. The exception here is the Journey sprite who isn’t present every day.
Another feature that sets the two games apart is the DLC. Story of Seasons was released alongside some DLC packs. There appears to be quite a few options available through them though not all are immediately available as I’m writing this (May 9, 2021). I will try to update as more of them release. The few that are available so far give access to animal costumes and also grants the ability to place marriage-candidates in outfits from previous games or in animal costumes.
Final, Overall Thoughts on Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
Overall, I am very excited about this game and am thrilled that I gave it a chance. Do I love everything about it? No, but who loves every single aspect of every game? Honestly, the biggest thing for me isn’t even the materials constantly infiltrating my freshly-cleared farmland, but the random lag that I experience when playing. It does seem to be worse if I have more trees and things growing on my farm, but isn’t enjoyable at any point. I will definitely continue playing this game and trying to find the best layout for my farm and discover its little secrets. I’d love to know—what is your favorite thing or least favorite thing about either of these games?