Game Review – Stardew Valley

This review has been a long time coming as I’ve had this game for probably over a year now.  I’m not sure why I’ve taken so long to actually write about it, but look I’m finally doing it.  Here are my thoughts on the RPG/Farming Simulator game, Stardew Valley.

If the playtime counter on the steam page for this game is any indicator of how much I like this game (currently as of writing this post it’s 252 hours), then it’s safe to say that I love this game.  Since I first bought the game last year it’s gone through some bigger updates.  At one point I stopped playing the game due to being addicted to the point of never getting anything else done over playing it so I stopped for awhile, but when I picked it up again I found out it had gone through some rather significant updates, which in a way just made me want to play it even more.  In the future there’s also supposed to be a co-op mode where you can play with your friends, but that’s not supposed to be for awhile, but I honestly cannot wait for it.

So what is Stardew Valley?  It’s an RPG/Farming Simulator, as I said earlier, which is quite similar to the Harvest Moon games (a series which I never have played but after playing this game I would really like to play them as well).  The objective in this game is basically to build a farm, grow crops, raise animals, become friends with all the towns people, and even date one of the bachelors or bachelorettes and get yourself a wife/husband and even raise a family.  There’s also other things you can do in the game like go fishing and explore an old mine where you can dig for treasure and even fight monsters.  At some point in the game you’ll also gain access to the bus where you can take a trip to a desert area where you can do more cave exploring and go to a casino.

The premise of the game is that it starts with your grandfather who is dying giving you a gift that he tells you not to open unless and until you think you’re ready for it.  About 20 years later, when you’re bogged down at your soulless corporate desk job you decide that you want to open up your grandfather’s gift, and it turns out it’s the deed to his old farm.  So you move to Stardew Valley and make a new beginning for yourself as a farmer and learn to be part of the community of Pelican Town.  Within the game exists a series of ongoing quests to rebuild the community center by bringing a bunch of items that you gather or even grow/produce yourself.  If you do this quest, it will not only make the townsfolk happier but it will also run the Evil Corporation of Joja out of the town.  There’s also a diverging path in which you can side with Joja instead of rebuilding the community center, but it is far less rewarding in more ways than one. (You have to pay them boat loads of money and all you get is a lousy pop machine in the end, whereas doing it the other way you get tons of different rewards all throughout and you don’t lose money)

With all that out of the way, I just want to talk about how I’ve played the game.  When I first started, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing, and as I played I started learning more about what I should be doing to be more successful.  This may or may not sound like cheating, but I restarted my game more than once just so I could have a better start when I finally figured out what I should do.  The start of the game is easily the hardest as you’re dirt poor and you don’t have a lot of access to things and you have to work to get what you need.  But if you can make it out of that initial slog, it is so rewarding.  So on my first “official” playthrough (after the numerous start overs) I had a very fulfilling life.  I won first place at the county fair without even trying too hard, I was happily married by the start of my second year, and at the start of the third year I was blessed by the ghost of my dead grandfather as he saw I did a terrific job… wait, what?

At that point, there wasn’t very much left to do in the game. (Since then there’s been an update to have “after game” content which I am looking forward to finding).  So I didn’t know what else to do, and that’s when I found the huge modding community for this game.  I started installing mods.  First they were just cosmetic mods, like changing the color of your animals to be more pleasing, but then I found the cheats menus.  And I’ve been horribly spoiled since.  I ended up starting a game where I cheated to my heart’s content just so I could build my dream farm from the get go without having to worry about money or resources or depleting stamina.  While I would not suggest this for new players as I think it’s good to experience the game as it was made to be, it’s really fun to do and actually rather less stressful when you don’t have to worry about time limits for anything.

Now, when I went to pick the game up again around the beginning of this year, I found it had been updated.  There were now different farm maps I could start the game out in, there was extra end game content to keep going and have fun doing things with even after all the community center quests are over.  While I haven’t gotten far enough into any of my new games to experience all of it yet, I am quite excited to get to it.  I’ve been having fun just making games where the characters I play as are some of my own characters from my stories and just having fun role playing as them in this game.  And yes, I am still cheating, and I’m mildly ashamed of myself for that, but not enough to quit.

On the whole, this game is just really happy and cute and relaxing to play.  It’s good for people who like to have routines, as this game is heavily reliant on having a routine for each day of the game (which makes sense for a farmer).  I find that it puts my mind at ease to just have the routine of getting up in the morning, watering the plants and taking care of the animals, then going all throughout town to check for things I can pick up and sell or gift to people before deciding what activity to do for the rest of the day.  Socializing is fun and feels rather fulfilling as well, for the most part at least.  I may write another post about this game just to talk about all the characters individually at some point.

If you like relaxing RPG’s or farming/life simulators, this is probably a good game for you.  I highly recommend it and it’s one of my favorite games ever.  Here’s to another 250 hours of playtime.

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