Lately I’ve been tweeting a lot (or the equivalent in my case) about Stardew Valley. Ravanel noticed that. She also noticed that I haven’t made any post about the game. So she decided to
blackmail me ask me to write some posts about it.
Since she knew almost nothing about the game I thought a review would be a good idea. I might do a few more posts about Stardew Valley after this but it is something I need to think about.
The shorthand I usually hear the most for Stardew Valley is that it is like Harvest Moon/Rune Factory but better. I never played that game series, only heard about it, so I can’t really compare. Another game I hear comparisons about is Animal Crossing but that is another I never got the chance to play. If your case is like mine then read on and I will try to explain what the game is about and why it is so fun.
Basically, what Stardew Valley is about is a romanticized view of farming. That if all you need to be happy is a day of hard, honest work and connecting with your local community. This is expressed right at the beginning of the game as your character leaves their soulless job at a large corporation to go live in a farm they inherited by their long lost grandfather. When they get there the farm is in disrepair after being abandoned for so many years. But as your clear the farm, plant crops and the days go by it starts to become something beautiful, something rewarding in itself.
Then as you progress through the game other options appear for you, like raising animals, planting fruit trees, making sprinklers and other machinery to make your life easier, etc.
The other part of the game, connecting with your local community, happens in the neighboring Pelican Town. As you get to chat with the citizens and give them gifts they will tell you a bit more about themselves. This helps you understand why they are the way they are as well as their relationships with each other. At certain points of your relationship with them you even get a cutscene where you can make some roleplaying choices. Some of those choices will even be reflected in future cutscenes. There is even an option to marry some of the citizens and have kids if you so choose.
You can also take on job requests for them from the town board which is usually about delivering them some item or killing some monsters in the local mines. The usual rewards being some money as well as some relationship improvement.
The game is also pretty laid back. If you forget to water your crops for a day, that isn’t a problem. The only thing that will happen is that your crop will take a day longer to grow. If you ignore one of the townies for a while you will just lose some affection from them which can be easily remedied by giving them a gift they like. This extends to pretty much all the systems in the game. There is never any pressure to do any one activity or a harsh punishment if you don’t feel like doing it. It is really up to you what you will do in that particular game-day.
If that was all that was to do in the game, it would be pretty fun in itself. But there is so much more. There is a pretty fun fishing mini-game. There is the ability to go adventuring in the mines, fighting monsters and mining for ore. There is a local museum where you can donate artifacts to. Seasonal festivals to participate in. Helping to rebuild the community center. Secrets to uncover. And probably a few other things I am forgetting about.
Even if you don’t like some of these options there are mods to change them, like some mods to make fishing easier or to stop time when you enter a building. I haven’t used any of those myself since I like the game as is. So I can’t really say how easy to install they are. But the option is there if you want it.
Now I could go on and on about this game. Suffice to say I had nothing but joy since I purchased it. If you are looking for a very relaxing game, without pressures, that you can just putter around at your own pace then this is for you.
One last note I’d like to make is a shout-out to ConcernedApe, the developer of this game. He did all of this game by himself in the period of four years. That means all of the code, the artwork, the music and sounds, the writing, everything. This is an impressive task for any small team but even more so for just one person. If you feel that isn’t impressive or shouldn’t matter then let me point to something else. ConcernedApe has been pretty good at supporting the game post launch. He is also pretty accommodating about requests and feedback from the players. From experience, after I bought the game, he added the ability to zoom in and out in the game in an update. That was a request by players so they could take screenshots of their entire farm. Then in the latest patch (at the time of this post) he made the post-marriage dialogue more unique which was another request from the players. Before that it was very generic which kinda made the point of marrying a certain villager moot. Plus the obvious amount of bugfixes. This is much better support than a lot of big studios give to their games. So to ConcernedApe a double thumbs up from me and my eternal gratitude for this game.