Harvest Festival 64

Harvest Festival 64 Makes You Commit Horrors in Cheery Worlds

Harvest Festival 64 inserts horrors into the cheerful world of Animal Crossing. Now, I’ve played or watched many horror takes on beloved childhood games like Zelda, Mario, and the like. There’s something far more unsettling about bringing murderous acts to Animal Crossing, though. There’s something so much worse about bringing violent death to a world about helping people and making friends. Especially when it’s your fault.

The game takes a few moments to create that Animal Crossing-like mood. At first, you meet a bunch of blocky cats who seem very happy that you’ve arrived on their island. There’s going to be a big festival in a few days, too! It would be great if you could come. And even though you don’t have any place to stay, they’ll find a home for you. The person who used to live there is gone now, after all. Maybe you should ask more questions about that, but who turns down a free house?

Harvest Festival 64 continues to weave that cheerful feeling as you play it. It’s hard not to smile while walking around the green, lush fields near your house. You can almost smell the sea air as you head down to the beach. Yeah, there’s odd stones and branches lying around, but other than some clutter, it’s a bright, happy place. The grinning townsfolk add to that feeling as well. They’re so happy just to have you come up and talk to them, too.

These conversations strengthen that Animal Crossing connection and enrich the upbeat mood. The townsfolk speak in a kind of happy babble. It’s this same squeaky, silly, wordless voice, much like the tones from the game that inspired this. They just sound so goofy while they’re asking you for small favors that it’s hard to say no. Plus, there’s a pleasant little tune in the air. It’s the kind of music that puts a little skip in your step and gets you excited for the happy promises the day holds. So, why not offer a helping hand? These folks did give you a house, after all.

Over the next few days, you’ll gather wood for a fire, pumpkins for some delightful pies, and shiny stones. It wouldn’t be Animal Crossing without fetching stuff for people, right? Harvest Festival 64 tipped its horror hand with the stones, though. While walking around grabbing shiny rocks for these cats, I saw something in the water. I caught sight of a stone on the beach and walked down there, only to find what looked like a cat floating face-down in the waves.

This moment hit me surprisingly hard. I’m not too shocked to find bodies in games. I’ve been playing horror for far too long. However, finding a corpse in this Animal Crossing-inspired world felt wrong. It sent a chill through me to see this polygonal body bobbing on the waves. The game had worked hard to make me feel like this was a nice place where we all helped one another. We were all excited for the imminent harvest festival. To see a dead body just floating there added this sinister undercurrent to everything.

But there was more to it, though. Harvest Festival 64 makes you feel like a strange part of this disturbing moment. For starters, there’s another cat person only a few feet from this body. Even though they can probably see the corpse, they don’t say anything about it. They’re just so happy you brought them their shiny stones. Funny enough, your character doesn’t mention it, either. They don’t react to it in any way. No one seems to care about this dead cat. No one even seems bothered by it. You all just continue to get ready for your little festival.

The next day, when you’re picking mushrooms, you CONTINUE to ignore that body. At least, I did. I was too scared to walk over to check if it was still there. Just the same, I continued to take part in helping the people in town. I still fetched mushrooms with my happy little kitty guy. Underneath, though, I was getting nervous. I could feel something sinister under the smiling faces. The happiness felt more like a disguise meant to draw me in. The way they casually ignored a corpse made me feel that something terrible was coming. And my own silence about it made me complicit in what was coming.

Harvest Festival 64 takes you to a party on the final day. It’s pitch black for this event, for some reason. The shadows loom close as you walk around. The music is playing slowly, its notes shrill and discordant now. Your friends from the last few days are all here. They’re different, now. Their eyes are hollow and wide. Their voices are distorted, slurred, and chilling. Simply messing with the tone of those formerly-cutesy voices made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

Their mouths hung open as they spoke joyfully about how they were dying. One sewed stones in his stomach and was going for a swim. Another cat was burning in a pyre. A final one was dying of the mushrooms he’d been eating. Everyone was dying around me, and all from my own actions. I had brought each of them the items they were suing to kill themselves. Now, all of my kitty pals were passing with that disturbing look on their faces. Within moments, my character started to glance back at the camera, his own face twisted like that of the others.

Harvest Festival 64 closes soon afterwards. It’s done with you now that it’s involved you in all of these deaths. Seeing something so dark and disturbing in a game inspired by the happy, friend-filled moments of Animal Crossing made all of these moments strike that much harder. I was so ready to help be a part of this friendly community. I wanted to repay their kindness in this pleasant world of best buddies. Instead, I’d helped them all die. I had made their sickening ends possible. And all while I unquestionably went along with things after seeing a dead body.

By using that cheerful mood, Harvest Festival 64 sets you up to become a part of this monstrosity. Its eerie mood slams into you from the moment you see that corpse in the water, and it never lets go. It does so while drawing you into the world through your actions in ignoring the dead body and providing what these people want. Makes you complicit in these disturbing deaths. It doesn’t just scare you, but it makes you a part of these cruel events. By drawing on that desire to help and befriend from Animal Crossing, it turns you from a witness to something monstrous into someone that’s taking part in the horrors.