Are you sick of your depressing desk job? Have the qualms of modernised society got you down? Why not leave it all behind and travel to the cherished farm your grandfather left you in Stardew Valley.
Developed by Seattle’s Eric Barone (aka ConcernedApe), Stardew Valley is an RPG/Farming Simulator, where you can grow crops and care for animals. Farming, however, isn’t your sole purpose here. For instance, you can fish, cook, forage, craft, mine and much more. Stardew Valley takes you on a humble journey as you attempt to make ends meet, out in that fresh country air.
Stardew Valley can feel daunting at first, you’re presented with an overwhelming number of things to do that can seem like a grind to obtain. Upgrading your house and farm costs a lot of money, especially at first since planting crops takes some time to yield any real income. You’ll quickly find yourself situated in a routine from sunrise to sunset, making sure to plan each day productively, especially since a typical in-game day is roughly 10-15 minutes of real time.
Admittedly, Stardew Valley compares quite closely to Natsume’s Harvest Moon franchise, but differentiates itself in other areas thanks to the included combat and RPG-like mechanics. Quests are doled out frequently, that helps break the monotony of each day, whilst combat elements are pretty straightforward to get into. You’ll be utilising a sword at first, primarily fighting slimes and bugs found in an abandoned mine. Upon completing some combat related quests, you’ll be able to purchase gear that gives you certain stat bonuses. All for an insane amount of money, of course. It seems nothing comes cheap in this little valley.
There is an energy bar for your character that will deplete during the day, even quicker depending on how you choose to spend your time. This can be pretty unforgiving especially when undertaking strenuous activities like chopping wood or mining. This can be helped by consuming food, however, if your energy bar depletes fully, you’ll faint from over exhaustion and wake up in your bed. It’s similar to a drunken night on the town when you’ve had one too many, and no recollection of how or when you got home.
If tedium begins to set in from your meek country life, why not pursue a romance? Stardew Valley is home to a mix of NPCs that you can befriend. This in itself is an exerted process, as to advance affections you’ll need to undergo a trial and error process of gift giving. These gifts can only be given twice a week as well. It’s funny how Stardew Valley won’t let you be a needy, overbearing stalker. As your affinity with a character begins to grow further, you’ll uncover more about them, unlocking certain milestones in the relationship. Climbing the social ladder can be convoluted at times, but at least it feels like a believable fiction within the game. NPCs truly feel like real characters with their own set of daily routines, traits, likes and dislikes. They’re inherent to the town just as much as you are.
Stardew Valley is a very special game. Before you know it you’ll be obsessing over the upkeep of your farm, saving gold and, moreover spending gold. With so much to do in this quaint little valley, boredom is simply a term that doesn’t exist within this game. ConcernedApe has created a beautifully simulated world that’s worth every little bit of grind.
And now the good news. Having been available on Steam for a few months now, Stardew Valley will be soon be ported to Xbox One, Ps4 and WiiU. The plan is to have all three released before the end of the year and, according to the developer himself, there will hopefully be some specific WiiU gamepad additions along with the usual achievements/trophies and the like for the other platforms. Definitely keep an eye out for that as the end of the year draws ever closer, but in the meantime you can happily catch it on Steam.
Sunita Osborne is a freelance writer and contributor to PN2. Go say hi @SunitaOsborne