"The whole landscape you see could be created or crushed as you saw fit."
When fellow editor Derek Heemsbergen and I went to check out The Lost Valley, it was definitely unlike either of us expected. The game is still only in alpha, but we had a chance to see new gameplay elements and learn a little more about the story and premise. We were informed the game would still have a strong focus on the usual crop-growing and animal-rearing components, but a brand new Minecraft-style crafting system looks like it will take the spotlight.
Our experience with The Lost Valley began in a large open area filled with trees and a small river. The game is in full 3D and features vibrant colours, though the actual landscape seemed rather spare and un-detailed. Again, this was an alpha build, so hopefully we will see improvements in this area before release. The game was played on the top screen, but a handy grid-line map filled out the bottom.
The map was particularly useful given that crafting all sorts of objects and buildings will be a primary aspect of the gameplay. No longer is there a set farmland area like in past titles. Instead, the whole landscape you see could be created or crushed as you saw fit. Blocks could be dug out of the ground or placed to modify the terrain, rocks could be mined for materials, and trees could be chopped down. Materials collected could be used to build new structures, though we didn't have a chance to see any in the demo. We were told there would be some interior decorating, but it was indicated to be quite minimal.
You can play as either a male or female character, and romancing bachelors or bachelorettes, as expected, will return. Marriage and children will be within the game's scope and you can complete requests to gain favour with a potential partner. The primary story, however, is a restoration of the seasons. To begin with, the Lost Valley will be in a state of perpetual winter, and the other seasons need to be restored as the game progresses. The Harvest Goddess and her sprites will return, some of whom can assist you with tasks such as watering crops or looking after your animals.
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley should release sometime this fall. We were also told that there was a strong likelihood paid DLC would follow the game's release. The new crafting system is an interesting addition, though the limited alpha build we saw made it difficult to tell how well it will work or how in-depth it will be.