Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley: the roads not taken

, | Game diaries

So I’m humming along on my little farm. I’ve procured three chickens and three cows, so I have eggs and milk earning money in addition to my crops. I’m finally able to hit the mines on my own, and a little hard-earned cash went toward a new fishing rod, so that’s another two sources of income. But even so, there are expenses. Seeds need to be purchased, tools need to be upgraded, and of course there are my near-daily gifts to Aurelia. Those gifts are non-negotiable. I gained a heart level with her just yesterday! And she’s always telling me how much she loves my vegetables. So the gifts continue!

But the 50,000 gold I need to pay off the villains and save the town seems a long way off. If only I didn’t have to do this by myself…

After the jump, it takes a village to save a village

But wait! There’s a knock at the door! It’s Lyla from the flower shop, along with the hilariously-named Parsley. They’ve found an incredibly rare flower seed that could do well in Leaf Valley, and they want my help to get it growing. And here’s Louis, my inventor buddy! He’s got a great idea to improve crop yield, and needs my input. Ronald at the grocery store is all excited to talk to me about bread for some reason. The Harvest Goddess has started making noise about restoring a temple. 10-year-old Tim hasn’t stopped going on about rare insects since I met him. The list goes on and on.

There’s more going on here than simple camaraderie. These are all quests, essentially, and they’re giving me other ways to save Leaf Valley besides buying out the plans to raze it and construct Funland. Now, beyond a rather vague remark at the beginning that I should talk to the other villagers for help, the game doesn’t specify that I have other options. Everything I’m about to bring up I learned from the strategy guide. The biggest failure of the Harvest Moon series is that you really do need a strategy guide. My trusty copy tells me that there are two other ways to save Leaf Valley: turn it into a nature preserve, or make it a tourist attraction. Yes, Funland is also trying to make the place a tourist attraction, but at least this way all the buildings remain standing. Complete all the quests for either of these options, and Leaf Valley is saved without putting a 50K dent in your wallet.

It sounds simple, but the quest events don’t happen on their own. They have to be triggered, and there’s a limited window in which this can happen. Miss it the first time, and it’s not coming back. What’s more, each subsequent event has to be triggered as well, so you can do everything right for the first step, but completely miss the second step. Fortunately, the events aren’t very hard to trigger. Most of them just involve hitting a certain friendship level with a certain character. Talk to your neighbors most days and you should be fine. It’s a cool story mechanic. It adds depth to the characters that you otherwise might not discover, and I love that there’s more than one way to complete the main scenario. Plus, it encourages you to be neighborly instead of isolating yourself on your farm, which is an all-too-easy thing to do.

So while I’m still going with the buyout option on this playthrough, the additional story quests get a thumbs-up from me. Just don’t try to use them to save the town without a guide.

Next time: What’s so great about Leaf Valley?
(Click here for the previous game diary entry.)

Meghan Bowyer lives in Kansas City and works as a legal assistant when not playing/obsessing over video games. She has occasional aspirations toward writing professionally.