Thepoorassgamer here with a quick look into the new release Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley was released on February 26th and is currently available on Steam.
A quick aside to this impression before I get into the nitty gritty of the review: I am currently writing this while waiting for my flight to Phoenix, AZ. Cannot wait for some warm weather! (EDIT: GOD DAMN FLIGHT GOT DELAYED!)
Alright! Let’s get into it! So I’ve been sucked into this game for the past week or so and I feel like I have invested enough hours into this game at this point to give you an honest review. But as you’ve probably seen with some of my previous reviews, I want to give you the best parts of this game and potentially some failings.
First, Stardew Valley is an engrossing game. It will take up a significant amount of your time, and if you don’t enjoy what basically breaks down to a classic SNES style game mixed with some lovely elements of a simulation game, well, then this game probably isn’t for you. Many of you probably have never played a game like this. I suppose the common comparison at this point would be Harvest Moon, however, not a lot of people have played that game or even recall it. Stardew Valley begins with your Grandfather on his death bed; he has written you a letter that you are not to open until his death and with it, a chance to begin again. The player you create (you can name him or her whatever you want) is working a soul crushing desk job at a company named Joja (which oddly enough reminds me of Coca-Cola?). After neglecting the letter from his Grandfather the player is then sent on the journey of taking over your Grandfathers’ farm. Now this is where all the fun begins.
Stardew has this wonderful atmosphere. The music is very catchy and you’ll find yourself humming the tunes the more you play it. The art design is so painstaking and fun to look at that it makes you think you somehow missed this game, like it came out 30 years ago but never played it. It also gives you another weird feeling that I don’t see so much of in games right now: a world that feels alive, even for a 2D Sprite game. The player is tasked with harvesting resources, by using various tools to complete your work (Pickaxe, Trowel, Axe, even a Sword, Watering Can, and Fishing Pole). First thing to do? Go and chop down a tree. It’s almost like seeing something that you wished was capable on an SNES back in the day (the tree actually falls down!). Now as a piece of advice from someone that has spent some time with this game, don’t get rid of any resource you find. The reason being is that literally every item you pick up has some purpose, and can be used to craft other items that will make your farming life a whole lot easier. You’ll find improvements such as combining pine sap with different items to produce a fertilizer for your crops. This is one of the core mechanics to this game, everything you find will help you on your journey and honestly, don’t take any of your harvesting lightly.
So that is the basic concept, you’re new to this world and you are tasked with living off the land and making a living from your crops, animals and various items you craft and sell. But there is so much more to this game. This is a game about relationships, about building close ties to the towns people and really, surviving. I was really caught off guard by this game, I couldn’t believe that such a simple looking concept could make me feel really great. Stardew is such a relaxing game that I often forgot how long I had been playing it. It honestly reminds me of my first few plays of Minecraft. I mean, the comparisons are there, the crafting, the tools, harvesting items, but the feeling I am talking about is that there is a ton to discover with this game. With each improvement, some new track or crafting item is opened up and there are a lot of items! Beehives, Chicken coops, Barns, even a Mayonnaise machine that helps convert your eggs! The thought that went into this game just makes me generally happy.
I could talk for days about this game so ultimately, it is something you have to experience to see if it is for you. But I can tell you that after a rough day of work, feeling stressed and bored, this game helped me. It made me feel better about my day. But ultimately, this could be a generational thing, like somehow we all yearn to cast off the shackles of a normal everyday job to return to something simple. Honestly from playing this game, I think I have the feeling that I wouldn’t do very well at that life. But that’s the great part of this game, the escapism you get from it all. You get all the best parts of owning a farm but without any of the actual back breaking labor. And ultimately isn’t that what you want from a game?
The only failings I can find in this game is that often times, things are left for you to figure out on your own. I did struggle a bit at first as I ultimately (and stupidly) clicked through a few dialogue boxes and didn’t read what the game designers were trying to teach me. SO, don’t do that. I did find that when I did that, I couldn’t find something to refer back to i.e. what items to harvest to create say, a chicken coop. I couldn’t remember what NPC I was suppose to go to to get a particular item, and I even struggled with just meeting all of the NPC’s at first. I feel like as a result of this, I burned through the first section of the game: Spring. And if you have ever even planted one plant in your life, I felt like I left a lot up in the air during that season. But even with that failing, the cool thing is that this game goes through all of the seasons, and while I haven’t completed each section yet, I know this game will let me continue playing even after my first year.
But that is ultimately the only downside I can see thus far. This game wants you to make the most of your time and plan things out before you start your day. And hey! That is a valuable life lesson isn’t it?
So if you have a nice PC, you have yourself a Steam account and $14.99, I totally think this is a game you should give a shot to!