Stardew Valley is a farming RPG in which you leave the tortures of modern life and escape to your grandfather’s old farm. Think Harvest Moon, except with actual quests and dungeons.
One thing that sets this farming game apart from others is that you really don’t have to be a farmer. You can survive by not growing any crops at all. You can simply live in the farmhouse and do absolutely nothing with it. It’s even possible to help the company that you left to expand and gain a solid foothold in this struggling farming town. I haven’t tried doing it yet, but it is possible.
A really great aspect about this game is that you can customize your character. Not just the basic hair, skin tone and eyes, but also the clothing and whether you prefer cats or dogs. Also, you can make a bearded lady if you want, because apparently beards are accessories.
Like any other RPG, relationships with other people are extremely important. However, those relationships can be very difficult to form. Each character has specific schedules for where they can be found depending on the season, the weather, the time of day, and even the day of the week. You can give gifts to characters to increase the friendship. It’s highly recommended to give gifts on the character’s birthdays because it boosts the increase to friendship even further. Birthdays can be found on the calendar in the town square.
After you reach a certain amount of friendship with different characters different cut-scenes will occur if specific requirements are met.
There are ten potential husbands or wives, and they are all available no matter what gender you choose for your farmer to be. The developers have confirmed that two more villagers will be added to the potential husband or wife list. Once you are married, if you keep your spouse happy they may help you out around the farm or cook you food.
One great thing about this game is that there is always something to do. You can farm, you can procure some animals and take care of them, you can explore dungeons, and you can clear off your land. If you want to have a relaxing day in the game, you can also just go fishing all day long. Plus, a profit can always be made at the end of the day. Even in the winter time when nothing grows your farm can still profit from the animal products, the things you find in mines, and from fish. However, your farmer is not some ultimate tireless being. You have to watch the energy bar, and when it gets low, either eat something to gain more energy, or lay low for the rest of the day. If you allow the farmer to work to exhaustion, the farmer will pass out wherever they are and the day will end. When you wake up, you’ll have been fined for medical expenses.
The mines work in a similar fashion, except it isn’t just energy that can run low, it’s also health. If either one reaches zero while you are in the mines, you will wake up to one of the villagers shaking you awake and telling you they found you in the mines, and someone had been picking your pockets. You lose items, money, and you forget a certain number of floors that you had been down.
Stardew Valley doesn’t have any specific ending. At the end of your second year, there is one cut-scene that could serve as a soft ending, but the game could go on for an infinite amount of time.
There are a few downsides to the game, one big one being that your land is really difficult to keep cleared if you don’t develop it with pathways or buildings. Grass, stones, trees, and wood will continually pop up during the growing seasons, no matter how hard you try to get rid of it once and for all. Another aspect that can be a bit infuriating is just how hard some relationships can be to form. Because of the specific schedules and distinct likes of each person, it is nearly impossible to be friends with everyone.
Overall, I highly recommend the game. It sucked me in quickly, and I managed to log more than forty hours in one week. The style of the game is charming and nostalgic, and the characters are each their own unique person. They interact not only with the farmer, but with each other as well. The feel of the game is peaceful, and you can do things at your own pace. There is no rush to get anything done. This isn’t the first time that a game like this will be made, and it won’t be the last time. Stardew Valley has set itself apart from the rest with all of its simplistic charm and a plethora of things to do.
You can get Stardew Valley here.