I’m going to be referring to this game as ‘Shepherd’s Crossing’ a lot, simply because ‘Hitsuji Mura’ is the Japanese name of the Shepherd’s Crossing games, just like Bokujou Monogatari is the Japanese name for Harvest Moon. Rakuen Seikatsu Hitsuji Mura is Success’ second attempt at making an online Shepherd’s Crossing game after the first one, Makiba Seikatsu, was shut down in late 2014.
My experience with Shepherd’s Crossing Online is exactly as I said in the title: you play for 5 minutes then you wait for several real-time hours for your life (AP bar) to refill. A single AP point takes 3 minutes to refill, which is a long time to just stare at a screen. Besides, 1 AP is only enough to take one action, so instead of waiting 3 minutes it’s a lot more profitable to just go away for a couple of hours and let the AP bar max itself out. Then you can play for another 5 minutes, whee. I don’t have much experience with online browser games, but I’m surprised MMORPGs caught on if this is the kind of ‘gameplay’ they have to offer.
I don’t feel like writing too much, so I’ll just post a few screenshots I took. The official (Japanese) site of the game is here and there are English YouTube guides to signing up and playing if you’re interested, but if your Japanese is bad enough that you need a guide, I don’t think you’ll enjoy the game. There’s a lot of reading to do in the early game plus you need to understand quest requirements before you can fulfill them. Anyway, my farm in the beginning:
The green outline on the ground is the space I have available for farming. The yellow 20/20 bar is the AP bar, which means I could take 20 actions before having to wait an hour for a full life refill. The blue 100/100 is the adventure bar, which is drained when you go adventuring with your dogs. Here’s my farm a few levels later:
The orange 137/189 bar is the EXP bar. The green 63/700 shows the animal feed I have available. Animals are quite ravenous in this game, but unlike the regular games they won’t starve to death if you don’t feed them (just go into a state of limbo, sort of) and dogs won’t eat other animals if they’re hungry. They’re vegetarian. No, seriously. And healthy adult dogs are ascetics, so they don’t eat at all.
Anyway, in the screenshot above I’d leveled up a few times since the beginning, so I had more AP to play with. My farm was also a little bigger and I’d started a little aquaculture, which is a nice addition to the same old planting and farming routine. I hope they bring in some bees as well, like in the first Shepherd’s Crossing. And here’s my farm now:
Even more space, even more AP. Got some rabbits growing, planted some orange and lemon trees, got some marmots ready for the meat market and some clams that need harvesting. The more AP you get, the more tempted you are to do more stuff, so you’re back to square one in no time. Storage space is really small too. Luckily I joined a guild, which gives me a few perks.
Most notably a slightly larger storage and slightly (very slightly) faster AP refilling time. Joining a guild is also good because you can ‘farm’ AP by going to their farms and petting a mascot character there. Pet mascot = +1 AP for you and +1 for your host. If they return the favor, that’s another 1 AP each. You can also work on their farms at no AP cost to you or to them and get EXP for it too. The developers really want you to join a guild.
Last two things worth noting, first the processing shop where you can turn your raw veggies into cooked meals and stuff:
It encourages you to hang on to ingredients because “Maybe I’ll be able to make something someday!” A lot of farm products sell at a loss or a very small profit if you sell them raw, so it makes much more sense to process them first. That said it’s really disappointing that the only thing you can do with cooked ingredients is either sell them or use them as presents. In most other crafting games you can at least eat them for health or energy boosts, or even EXP in the case of Adventure Bar Story.
Second thing, adventuring with mah dawgz:
Well one dawg, at the time. Picking on poor defenseless hamsters, for shame. First you have to find map pieces, then you put the pieces together in the processing shop, then you search for the island shown on the map then you spend EP to take your dogs out exploring in the hopes of finding useless trinkets, quest items and a few useful things. Adventuring is the only way to get salt, for example. Why not just make it from the seawater I grew those clams in? *shrug*
So thems the basics of Shepherd’s Crossing Online. There are plenty of animals and islands and items I haven’t unlocked yet, and it will probably take a while for me to get that far because the AP and storage limits make playing stressful. It could be a fun game with more to do and more challenges besides “wait 3 hours to play again” but I suppose that wouldn’t make Success much money. And goodness knows they need it. Here’s hoping they make enough off this to fund a real Shepherd’s Crossing game next time.