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Return to Popolo Crois' RPG framework is rock solid, and happily, when it's finally time for Pietro to put down the sword and pick up the spade the agricultural side is just as engaging.
Farming here is a back-to-basics affair compared to more recent Bokujō Monogatari games — more like the original SNES Harvest Moon or Friends of Mineral Town than Story of Seasons or Rune Factory 4 — and gets back to the simple joy that makes virtual agriculture so appealing: instead of rebuilding a village or designing your farm, Pietro's time on the land is all about raising crops and spending time with animals.
While these tend towards the fetch-quest end of the spectrum mechanically, the writing and framing make them more interesting than you'd think, and they're definitely worth taking on.
Street Pass also offers its own style of side-quests: each time you pass an alternate-reality Pietro, you'll pick up a treasure map that points to items buried somewhere in the world, and if you can manage to find them, they're all yours.
It's position-based, but the fine scale and analogue movement make it feel much freer than similar systems; rather than calling for chess-like tactics, it's more about being able to control your characters in a meaningful way in battle, and making each skirmish feel more interactive.
In addition to approaching enemies and finding your way around obstacles, movement in battle also plays into how you'll use each party member's skills; magic can affect different types of areas, from lines and cones ahead of a character to circles around them, and using a few turns to get into position for a powerful sweep almost always pays off.
Once it gets going, Return to Popolo Crois's story really does feel like a fairytale; it's comfortingly familiar, but well told and beautifully presented.Even while you're adventuring, however, the agricultural themes at the heart of the story remain important throughout; the dungeons you'll clear are actually corrupted plots of farmland, and by shrinking down to the size of ants with the help of some fairy dust, Pietro and co.can defeat the denitrifying demons and return the soil to its former glory.Thankfully, dispatching these agrarian evildoers is made easy with the turn-based, mildly tactical battle system that's one of Return to Popolo Crois' best assets.When your party gets pulled into a fight, you'll get an overhead view of the action, and on each character's turn, you'll be able to move them freely within a certain radius determined by their speed, before attacking or casting spells.
And if you're ever itching to burn through battles without breaking a sweat, a surprisingly effective Auto-Battle mode can be triggered at any time with a tap of the 'Start' button.