Out of all the several games I truly enjoy playing, Stardew Valley has a special place in my heart. It reminds me of the good old days when Harvest Moon was new, and how I grinded hours on hours in my Nintendo DS when I bought Animal Crossing. Farming games in the country side happens to be my Kryptonite. Stardew Valley seems to know about that, and abuses it. Stardew Valley first began as a PC game around early 2016. Since then, it’s been developing over the years. I remember the hype that surrounded the game. Despite its first release, it already had plenty of features to keep the players coming back. It’s interesting since the game has been developed by one person during the time of its release: Eric Balone, or ConcernedApe as his “developer name”.
Needless to say, my 3 years of waiting is worth it. I will keep this review short and spoiler free.
I. The Beginning of the Game and Brief Mechanics
It is a game that I can describe to be the perfect game to take a break from reality- in fact, the game even acknowledges it and some reviewers of the game felt it. Without spoiling the cutscenes too much, you are in the shoes of an office worker whose life was starting to take a toll on them. Eventually, they find themselves leaving their work to go and work on a farm they’ve inherited. I’m pleasantly surprised with the number of customization options the game has. I have the choice of selecting between 5 farms: Standard, Riverland, Forest, Hill-top, and Wilderness. Each of these farms had their merits, but also demerits. It all lies down to your playing style of which farm you’d choose in the end. Personally, I went with the Riverland farm for the scenic view of rivers cutting across the farm.
The gameplay itself is simple, but there’s just something about it that I got me coming back. You just plant your crops, water them every day, and wait for them to be harvestable. Once the harvest comes along, you pick them up and ship them off with a Shipping Bin. The game tells you how much gold you’ve earned overnight once your character goes to rest. Without even realizing, I found myself in my 3rd Year of the game already with a relatively large farm and all of the farm buildings finished.
Although I still severely lack money-making items like crab pots, etc, I find it that they had little to do with the gameplay. In fact, you could potentially play through the entire game without even making any of those once you develop your first coop! However, that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. Just as I’ve said, it all prefers to your playstyle. Personally, I just play the game to relax, and it does really well with that.
II. The Environment of the Game and its NPCs
For the atmosphere, the game really does well with setting it up. The NPCs are given routines that they perform at specific hours of a specific day, so the entire town feels like it’s full of life in comparison to other games. Even NPCs from Skyrim don’t behave the same way as the NPCs from Stardew Valley, nor do they give the same amount of life in a town/city. You also have a friendship level with each NPC- much like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. If you fill these levels, you eventually get cutscenes to solidify your bond with the NPC. There are also specific NPCs that you can make your partner, and eventually marry that NPC, and have children. The beauty of this game is in the form that you can take any gender as your partner!
Of course, it does take a while to fill up those hearts, and, just like in real life, they decay the more time you ignore them! In a sense, the game really feels like an alternate dimension you can play in. Additionally, when it rains, the NPCs change their routines to fit the weather. This also happens if the season changes. Once the season within the game changes, the weather also does. If it’s spring, you have cherry blossoms falling from trees somewhere up in the sky to winter with snow falling down.
III. Others and Conclusions
Fortunately, it isn’t just a game about farming. You can also fish, hunt, chop wood, but most importantly: mine. This is your most likely secondary source of income, and primary way of getting resources. The mines go really deep, and the deeper you get, the tougher the things that come out of it. In a sense, it’s always best to eventually upgrade your tools, and get better gear as you progress deeper. There’s a reward by the end of the mines, and it’s an important quest item for a later feature of the game. Stardew Valley has a lot features. Every season, there would be a new event. There is a community center that you will need to fix. However, while these are the most obvious ones, there are a lot of hidden features that you’ll need to discover on your own.
I can speak more about this game, but there are things in the game that are better experienced. The game is can be modded, so you can place some spice in the game if you’re starting to get bored of its vanilla form! Overall, it’s a fantastic game to play to pass the time, and an excellent one to relax with. It’s certainly less stressful than this game.