I finally come out of the shadows of hiding behind pretty artwork pictures, done by others, and come into the light where the horrors of actually trying to blog properly lie.
Today I decided that I would review the game that has stolen most of my time outside of one other game and the numerous hospital visits I have had to attend this month.
This game is none other than Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley straight away was compared as a sort of spiritual successor to the Harvest Moon games for the 3DS but instead being played on the PC. Another great appeal to the game itself, at least for me, is that this isn’t some game pumped out from some long standing company with penchant for great games but instead is entirely made by one and only one developer who works on it by himself.
For those with no knowledge of the Harvest Moon games you are essentially given a farm to run, usually by some family member, to spend the rest of your days on. Stardew Valley also uses this by having your ailing grandfather one day tell you that when you feel that the city life has weighed you down too much to leave it all behind and move out to an old family farm of sorts.
Stardew Valley starts out slow, much like any game of its type, you arrive to your farm after a short beginning cutscene to find that nature has gone unchecked on the land for who knows how long. So you run out with some basic tools provided to you and get to work chopping down logs, breaking apart rocks, preparing the land for your crops, planting and watering said crops, and after a few days to a few weeks the crops will grow where you then harvest and sell them to begin earning your income.
What starts out as nothing more than a handful of simple parsnips steadily becomes rows of potatoes, corn, and pumpkins. The wood and stone you have collected from clearing your land along with the gold you are earning from your crops goes into upgrading your home, building barns and coops for animals, and other utensils to turn the products from your crops and animals into higher paying items such as cheese or wine.
The nearby town is full of, almost completely, friendly faces all of whom you can befriend by giving gifts and many of them own local stores and shops. After working on befriending one of the local bachelors or bachelorettes you can go through a process of courting them and even asking for their hand in marriage which can one day land you with your own family, dog or cat included, to settle down even further in your country life.
Of course even in the country there are various events and festivals to be had such as the Luau, where the (presumed) state Governor arrives in town looking forward to the communal hot pot, or the Feast of the Winterstar, which works much like Christmas except that you are given a random villager’s name and as their Secret Santa must give them a nice gift on the holiday.
With a mix of effort upon the players part and time within the game much more of the areas around your farm and the town open up. Bridges are mended, landslides cleared, and buses fixed to open up new areas to explore. Multiple mines filled with precious metals and gems as well as being full with monsters earn you more money as well as improve on many things on your farm.
Through continuous work of tilling the soil, chopping the trees, and mining the rocks your skills improve over time making you use less energy, which is a very limited resource early in the game, doing your daily tasks. But they also provide great bonuses such as making your crops and crafted goods sell for more, requiring no bait in your crab traps, increasing your health to survive the deeper parts of the mines.
Although the game is great and rarely has issues the simple fact that this amazing game is done by a single developer means that bugs can crop up when least expected. While rare in their existence some can mess with your game while others are simply either just a small inconvenience or something to laugh at, such as your dog floating in nothingness.
In the short time since its release Stardew Valley has sold hundreds of thousands of copies, gained a near cult like following, and is, in my opinion as well as many others, greater than many of the AAA games that keep getting released yearly. The developer is constantly assisting players with any problems they have as well as steadily pushing out new ideas and changes to the game itself.
I can’t give Stardew Valley a higher score as it earns one of my few and rare 10 out of 10 scores. Of course it could always change. While Stardew Valley has no true ending currently and is completely open-ended it also can simply change at the tip of the developer’s hat. While he has created a masterpiece with what he has delivered anything that changes could easily hurt it at its current state… or make it even grander.