If you are exhausted from the fast-paced competitive high stakes games like League of Legends or Overwatch, I have the game for you. Stardew Valley is the hit Indie game that has taken over the genre since the release in early 2016. The game sold over one million copies in the first few months and spawned console releases later in 2017. Avid players would compare Stardew Valley to Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing, but alas, I haven’t had the opportunity to play either of these classics. The recent release of Stardew Valley on the Nintendo Switch has reinvigorated the game and draws attention back to the heartfelt game. With only a fifteen dollar price point across most platforms, Stardew Valley is a game with potentially hundreds of hours of playtime.
Stardew Valley is the passion project of Eric Barone (screenname ConcernedApe). Barone spent half a decade creating the game in his basement, carefully learning pixel art, as well as crafting an involved story in little Pelican Town. The game focuses on an average office worker that is tired of his life and suddenly inherits a farm from his recently deceased grandfather. The premise is relatable and begins the immersion right away by immediately dropping you on the farm. From there, the game has aspects of farming, mining, fishing, collecting, building relationships, and many more. There are small tutorials sprinkled into the beginning of the game but is up to the player to learn the majority of the game. Although none of these features are revolutionary in the genre, Stardew Valley presents each in a rustic nature that just blends together for a novel experience. After a few in-game years, I actually memorized the seasonal crops that match real-life counterparts. The game presents you with plenty of objectives and missions but ultimately, it is up to the player to decide how he/she plays.
Stardew Valley has much to learn and you will feel like there are not enough in-game and real-life hours to get everything done. It takes at least a few hours to pick up and learn all the facets of the game. The process can hasten with the numerous lets plays and the wiki made by dedicated fans. You will spend hours farming crops realizing that you should have spent more time mining for the tool upgrades. You can raise farm animals, make jam, scavenge the beach for coral, and even get married. The game lets you choose what you want to do. There are even chance occurrences like a meteor strike, witches, and super sea cucumbers. At the end of each in-game year, there is a feeling that you could have done better.
Stardew Valley is the game that can leisurely be played in bed, on a rainy day, or when life is too overwhelming. It allows the player to experience the “simple” life of watering crops and taking care of animals. With everything that there is to the game, it blows my mind that a single guy made all of this. There are even regular updates to the game and an eventual co-op feature. The port to the Switch did bring some glitches like the game crashing when the quest window is accessed with no active quest. Fortunately, most glitches were quickly patched and overall did not hinder the gameplay. The Switch’s mobile nature and a $15 sticker price make Stardew Valley one of the most worth it games to buy.
Written by Tuan Pham.
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