Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (Review)
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale was a game no one saw coming, a crossover between the rarely-localized PopoloCrois JRPG series and the farming simulation series Story of Seasons.
Set in between the original two PopoloCrois games, the story begins on Prince Pietro’s 13th birthday. When he leaves his world behind in search of a way to stop the mysterious “black beasts” threatening PopoloCrois, he finds himself trapped in the barren world of Galariland. His only hope to save both worlds from darkness is to restore the four Farms of Light and revive the goddess Galariel.
Considering its premise, you might expect it to be evenly divided between its PopoloCrois and Story of Seasons aspects, or even emphasize farming with some RPG elements thrown in. However, the opposite is true. Return to PopoloCrois is very much an RPG. There is plenty of farming to be done if you want to, with multiple farms to cultivate and plenty of crops to discover, but it’s more or less an optional activity.
Instead, you’ll journey across Galariland with a variety of party members, fighting monsters and helping townspeople with various side quests. Most of the quests are simple, and the turn-based combat is fairly easy until the very end of the game. The dungeons, meanwhile, tend to be repetitive mazes, and although you can give girls in each town gifts to build up your relationship, it feels out-of-place and unnecessary (particularly since Pietro has a canon love interest already, which prevents these ones from going beyond friendship).
However, this isn’t to say Return to PopoloCrois is a bland game. What it lacks in these areas, it makes up for in charm. The main characters are entertaining, and funny conversations are a highlight of their interactions. There are a few returning PopoloCrois characters, but a brief story summary at the start ensures sure newcomers like me understand who they are. My only disappointment with the characters was that you’re never quite able to freely mix party members.
As for the story itself, it’s simple and sometimes predictable, but it has a few surprises and many exciting moments along the way. It also allows you to keep playing in the post-game for new dialogue and quests.
Overall, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale was an enjoyable JRPG adventure with some light farming elements. If you enjoy turn-based RPGs and lighthearted stories, it’s definitely worth checking out, and it makes me hope we’ll see a revival of the main PopoloCrois series in the future.