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Stardew Valley VG Review

Stardew Valley

Games don't always have to be action packed thrill rides, sometimes you just wanna kick back, live the simple life, and grow some carrots like in Stardew Valley!

Living Off The Land

Stardew Valley is the work of a single developer, Eric Barone and is heavily influenced by the Harvest Moon series which started in the nineties. In it your character has moved to a sleepy village to inherit their grandfather's farm and live a simple life off the land. The game tasks you with first cleaning up the place, which has seen better days, and then turning it into a profitable working farm.

Growing crops, raising livestock, making artisanal goods, and selling your produce, this is the crux of what you will be doing on your new plot of land. But scratch a little at Stardew Valley's surface, and the game has much more to offer than just being a farming sim. Your farm sits on the edge of a town full of colorful characters, each with their own jobs and little routines who you learn a little more about each time you interact with them.

You can develop your relationships with these folks by giving them gifts from your farm and even marry some of them if you win their favor. The little town also has a huge mine underneath it where you will need to go to procure stone, jewels and various other resources for growing your farm, whilst also engaging in combat with the variety of enemies that can be found lurking down here.

The town and the mine start to open up more and more as you poke and prod your way around and lead you to new buildings, crops and animals for your farm. All of these aspects blend together to make an extremely addictive game play loop where managing your time is key to getting the most out of each day.

However what's nice about Stardew Valley is that it doesn't punish you for not managing your time well. The game lets you spend your days doing pretty much whatever you want to do. There are a multitude of things you can be doing at any one time in the game, but it never feels overwhelming. Time doing anything in Stardew feels like time well spent, and if you didn't get around to a task on a given day, there's always tomorrow (except watering your crops, make sure you do that everyday!).

Spring In Your Step

One of the most interesting things you’ll find about this game is the way it changes as time pushes forward. The clock is always ticking in Stardew Valley, and as the days and weeks go by, so do the seasons. Your farm and the town look strikingly different from spring to winter, and what crops you can grow, what fish you can catch in the river, and what events take place in the town, all differ depending on the time of year.

This changing of the seasons really gives the sense of stardew valley being a lived in world, and one that helps to keep the game feeling fresh as the hour count goes up. It feels like a real town, not one that's just static for the entirety of a playthrough. This seasonal approach also lets you carry knowledge forward with you for each passing year.

By the time Winter was drawing to a close in my first playthrough, i felt like i had learned a lot about how to manage my farm, what to do in the mines, and who my favorite towns people were, and i was was excited to start the new year and apply all of this knowledge to having an even more prosperous farm. By my third year, my farm was almost unrecognisable as I applied everything I had learned and built new buildings to aid me in running my farm.

Friendly Neighbors

Stardews cast of townsfolk add to this lived in feeling too. How much or how little you interact with them is really down to you, but you benefit greatly from a little interaction with each one, as they will offer insight into the history of the town, offer farming hints, and also give you quests which can earn you more money and helpful items.

The seasonal events offer a great chance to talk to everyone, as sometimes catching people on a regular day can be tricky as they plod around town on their daily routines which change depending on the day of the week. Exploring the mines in Stardew can feel like a bit of a gear change from the peaceful and quaint farming life as suddenly you are swinging a sword and managing your health and stamina. Although if you prepare properly, the mines can be made very manageable and with late game gear don't pose too much of a problem.

A few parts of Stardews map are tantalisingly closed off to begin with, and its up to you to work out how to uncover them. These range from aiding the towns folk, to helping restore the towns community center, to scavenger hunts unraveling secrets and mysteries, which i won't go into details of here as they are some of the most interesting parts of the game. There's also so many different items and buildings to unlock in this came which again, i'm not going to go into detail about here, because part of the appeal of this game is discovering this stuff on your own

Pixel Perfect

Visually Stardew Valley is a beautiful game to look at. Its simple pixel graphics and bright colours work so well for a game in this style, and its seasonal colour pallet changes help to convey the changing of the seasons so well. The portraits that pop up during dialog with townspeople help to add personality to the simple characters and watching your tiny pixelated crops and animals grow slightly bigger each morning you step out onto your farm is extremely satisfying. All of this visual package is accompanied by a great soundtrack which flows beautifully through jaunty summer tunes, to somber winter melodies.

Personally I find it hard to fault Stardew Valley, it's one of my favorite games of recent years and I think it delivers very well on just about everything it sets out to do. But if i had to be critical i would say that this game asks a lot of your time. The game only saves when you go to sleep so you need to finish an entire day before you can stop playing.

This isn't always an issue, as for me the gameplay loop can be so addictive that i find myself saying “i'll just play one more day” a lot when playing this game. For the first several hours stamina management can be an issue. There's a lot of clearing up that needs doing on your farm and this drains your stamina very quickly. If you don't have much food to alleviate this, then you are pretty much resigned to calling it a day and going to bed.

Also if you run out of stamina before making it to bed, then you run the risk of losing some of the items you were carrying which can be enormously frustrating. These problems do start to become less of an issue as you progress through the game and get better recipes and equipment, but they can make the early game feel like more of a challenge than you might initially be expecting.

Stardew can feel slow at times, but if you are willing to go along with it, there is an extremely good game here, one of those where the hours melt away as you do a little more each in game day and the game starts to open up more and more. Stardew is probably the cosiest experience you can find in gaming and with the addition of multiplayer, its also an extremely approachable game, whether you play a lot of games or none at all. This is a game that i would recommend to everyone to give a try.