The videogames industry is all-too-often criticised for its high volumes of violence and forcibly aggressive gameplay. For all its efforts to expand it’s horizons with storytelling and moral dilemmas, there’s a subtle reliance on the understanding that ‘action’ means ‘killing.’ While that may be true for the majority it’s far from the realms of Hometown Story, a videogame in which being aggressive is a notion so far removed from it’s world that it simply can’t comprehend ‘action’ as anything other than trying your hardest.
Hometown Story is a videogame about relationships; not in the same fashion as a dating simulation or an abstract manner like Animal Crossing, but in a more binary sense. It’s a videogame adaptation of an illogical human emotion, therefore resulting in a forced sense of logical where the gameplay is a case of second guessing what a permanently happy reality would be like: be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you. It’s simple, it’s approachable, it’s perfect.
The videogame begins as you inherit your grandmother’s shop. A general store in a small isolated town your ambition becomes turning the shop into a thriving business, however you can’t do it alone. You need the help and support of those around you, and this is earned by becoming friends with others in the town. Be nice to the locals and they’ll become customers, but you must also source new materials and stock. Find some wood and someone to fashion it and you may have some new trinkets to sell, or become friendly with a local farmer and earn the right to sell his milk in your shop. Expand your stock supply, expand your shop and make new friends.
If this all sounds a bit familiar, that’s probably because it is. Hometown Story is the latest title from Yasuhiro Wada, the creator of Harvest Moon. There’s no escaping that many aspects of Hometown Story’s formula are based upon the prolific farming adventure series, but that’s no bad thing. There are mechanics that have evolved over years of exploration and honing until a point at which they’re now at the pinnacle of their addictiveness, and it’s exploring these components with new layers of gameplay that promises to make Hometown Story an exciting new experience. Solid foundations make for sturdy buildings, and with it’s gorgeous visual design and charming characterisation, Hometown Story looks set to become an addiction worth enduring.