February 11, 2023Stardew Valley Review

There’s just something about farming indie games that hits you differently. There’s this particular charm you experience from playing them that makes the gaming experience much more fun, and Stardew Valley is just that type of game.

Stardew Valley is a beautiful mix of the genres of RPG, life simulation, and farming, which some would think is weird but actually makes a great combination. This game isn’t like modern farming games that have too much pizzazz and have dominated the modern gaming community. Stardew Valley is a retro Harvest Moon-inspired game with Animal Crossing elements. It encompasses both old-school and modern elements that make the game even better. Moreover, there’s a comforting feeling when you play Stardew Valley that you rarely feel when you play other games.

Despite the game’s similarities to Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, it easily separates itself with its unique story, gameplay, graphics, and mechanics. Stardew Valley has only gotten better with each update it has received throughout the years, from new buildings, farm types, and events to even a multiplayer feature. Stardew Valley has definitely set the bar so high for similar games.

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Release Date: February 27, 2016
Developer/Publisher: ConcernedApe/ConcernedApe
Genre: Life Simulation, Farming, Role-Playing Game
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Vita, iOS, Android
Metacritic Score: 89%
Steam Review: Overwhelmingly Positive
  • The Steam Awards 2017 Winner
  • Golden Joystick Awards: Breakthrough Award

Where It All Starts

Stardew Valley’s plot is fairly simple, yet it goes deeper the longer you play.

At the start of the game, you’re a corporate worker who works 9–5, tapping away at your computer day after day until you finally decide to leave it all behind. You walk away and travel to the farm you inherited from your grandfather, leaving your 9–5 job at Joja Corporation. Before you begin your new life as a farm owner, you must first learn a lot of things, explore different areas of town, form relationships with the locals, and restore Pelican Town to its former glory.

Your Goal in Pelican Town

There’s so much to talk about in Stardew Valley’s gameplay, mechanics, quests, and activities you get to do. You’re not stuck doing only one thing in Pelican Town because, at the start of the game, there’s a lot to do.

There are various tasks you can do every day. Players begin the game with a sizable farming plot and several tools and equipment. Although the game doesn’t really “tutor” the players on what they exactly have to do, Stardew Valley does a fantastic job at guiding, introducing new concepts, and providing hints about how to best use your abilities.

Your typical day at Pelican Town is entirely different from when you were working at Joja Corporation. Each day is filled with different tasks to accomplish, various townspeople’s trust you have to earn, and so much more. Aside from the necessary tasks you have to accomplish on a daily basis, you can choose what to do for the rest of the day.

Feeling adventurous and spontaneous, go on an adventure to the mines and collect gems or ores that you can put in the town’s museum. You can also slay monsters, go fishing, farm, and do whatever else you want—the choice is entirely up to you.

Personally, I like going down to the mines and collecting the different gems and ores. Moreover, I get to slay monsters and get their loot. Fishing in Stardew Valley is very fun. There’s a mini-game you can play when hooking different sea creatures.

Though you have a lot of freedom in what you can do in the town, there’s still an overarching goal to achieve (just like in most games), which is to restore the community center and bring Pelican Town back to its former luster. Each room of the community center will have you completing tasks that range from short, doable tasks to long-term tasks that would take you a season to accomplish and cannot be done as quickly. However, there is an alternate goal you can choose to accomplish. You can support the Joja Corporation, but who would want to support that, right? But, if you want to, go ahead; you do you.

With the game’s overarching goal, the game actually pushes you to take your time and enjoy the game without having to rush to accomplish the goal. So, there’s no real consequence if you don’t accomplish a task quickly.

And even though the developer confirmed that the game does have an end, it doesn’t actually end there. Even after the main game has ended, you can continue to live your life and play Stardew Valley. Even after hundreds of hours, I find that there is still a lot to discover and plenty of things to collect.

The Townspeople

There are various different characters, or as we call them, residents, in Pelican Town. You might think that they’re one-dimensional NPCs at first, but as they warm up to you and form connections, you get to discover that each of them has different personalities, quirks, and schedules.

All of them have different tasks, roles, and schedules in the town, which will also depend on the season. Moreover, you get to form relationships—romantic or platonic—with the characters by giving them gifts. The people of Pelican Town are a fascinating group, but developing a deeper connection with any of them is only superficial.

All you have to do to gradually win their trust and love is to offer them gifts they love twice a week. Giving them things they don’t like can make them less affectionate, which motivates you to think creatively about your gifts and try to determine what each character values most.

What makes Stardew Valley much more fun is the romance and friendship aspect of the game. If you meet a character at a particular time and spot after achieving a certain level of friendship or romance, a special character story will play out. Players can get married and establish families as they develop their connections; however, I haven’t personally experienced this yet. There are plenty of bachelors and bachelorettes inside the town to pursue, and you can propose to someone if you’ve gotten to a certain “relationship level” with them. The 12 romantic characters have more scenes compared to the others, and if you marry one of them, they can move into your house and help you on the farm.

Stardew Valley’s Freedom

Stardew Valley gives you an incredible amount of freedom in terms of what you can and can’t do in the game and whether or not you want to do it. It allows you to explore different areas, talk to different characters, plant different plants, build your own space, and just generally do anything you please. Moreover, with the numerous mods available, you can customize your world however you want. You can make horses have cat skin, make a certain character unhealthily obsessed with you, or even redesign how your farm looks.

What’s even greater about these mods is that the developer of Stardew Valley, Eric Barone, allows mods and actually makes it easy to mod the game. According to PCGamesN’s article, Eric Barone’s next update will be for modders.

In addition to the game’s huge amount of gameplay freedom, you can also choose which character you want to pursue to reach a certain romance level. There are 12 townspeople you can choose to pursue romantically, all of whom have different ways you can woo them.

Playing Together with Your Friends

Stardew Valley’s great addition of multiplayer completely alters how the game can be played.

If you have a helpful farmhand, playing with your buddies will enable you to get more done each day. Although the character will have to start from scratch (with low health, weak tools, and no skill perks), you’re still able to have fun playing the game with your friend(s).

You can choose to do tasks or even goof around the town. Moreover, now you can split tasks and receive support from your friends when playing the game together.

Final Verdict

The artistry is extremely charming and chill. The game itself is a gorgeous fusion of many gaming genres designed to simulate a rural farming journey. Each day provides a plethora of fantastic activities ready to be completed or mastered, as well as new friendships (or romances), with the changing seasons and weather fitting the tone of the game. Walking through the town makes it feel incredibly lively, so occasionally stopping to simply soak it all in isn’t a terrible idea. The music, which is pleasant, soothing, and full of catchy tunes, also wonderfully captures the mood of the game.

Stardew Valley is a classic farming indie game that is quite hard to top. Furthermore, Stardew Valley is a game that will continue to provide you with a memorable experience and leave you wanting more.

Before I forget, did you know that Stardew Valley was developed and published by one person? Well, that’s right! Eric Barone did an amazing job creating this masterpiece of a game. We can’t wait for his next game release, Haunted Chocolatier.

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