Ever wondered what it would be like to inherit a farm and escape the loud and busy life of the city for the peace and quiet of the countryside? Well, Stardew Valley has got you covered! Now on the Nintendo Switch, it feels like the game has found a new home in the portable device and has you retreating to a quiet part of the house to enjoy creating your farm, meeting the people and exploring the beautiful town of Stardew Valley.
Now I must confess that every time I play Stardew Valley I fall deeply and madly in love with the simplistic charm that the exterior of the game provides, but don’t let the simplistic charm fool you. Stardew Valleys depth is simply shocking and will have you creating a to-do list that you will never complete because YOU KEEP ADDING MORE AND MORE AND MORE TO IT. The game, which draws heavy inspiration from the Harvest Moon games takes you on a journey to your grandfather’s farm after he has passed away to restore it to its former glory, now how you do that is up to you.
Like most players, you will begin planting crops and will quickly find out how the game limits you, with stamina. The stamina system that the game presents forces the player to plan their days wisely at the beginning of your adventure, but don’t worry you can increase your stamina. However, at this point, you will probably have farmed up some recipes to automate your farm (Yes, if your lazy like me, automation is a life-saver).
As you would assume, restoring the farm to its former glory will cost money. Stardew Valley provides plenty of ways to fund your progress by; farming crops, creating wines and jams, caring for farm animals, fishing, foraging and the list will grow constantly as you progress throughout the game. Different seasons require planning and force you to adapt your farming style, different crops, fish and forageable goods are only available in certain seasons, weather and time of the day. Be sure to collect as many as you can along the way so that you can start working towards your community centre goals, but more on that later.
The game takes RPG elements and mixes it with its bachelor system to allow you to develop relationships with the NPCs and find out their stories which have a great depth added to them. The system works by allowing you to gift items to the NPCs and in turn depending if they like or dislike the item they will increase in hearts towards you (Ranging from 0-10 hearts). However, the system works in that after reaching a certain heart range with an individual you will be rewarded with cutscenes, my only flaw to this is that you need to go to a certain area to receive them. You are not told where they are and have to find it for yourself, which you mostly find by sheer luck (Or the wiki), I would have enjoyed more cutscenes because they are very insightful, I feel the game could have built a bit more on the relationships that you have with the characters.
Progression in the game reminds me of games like Minecraft or Terraria whereas you gain better items you can upgrade your tools and then be able to do things better and so forth. The community centre is the main way the game forces progression, it forces you to try other things such as fishing if you tend to focus on farming. The community centre is a checklist of sorts in which for completing a bundle you will unlock more to do within the game. DO NOT ignore the community centre as you can unlock the greenhouse which enables you to grow any crops (Even if they are out of season), it is difficult but 100% worth it.
Now, when talking to friends about Stardew Valley I find two opinions which I can very much understand. The first is that the game has eaten over 100 hours of that person’s life and they cannot stop playing, or that they gave up within the first season and couldn’t hack the game for any longer. I do understand this point of view because I can see where they are coming from, Stardew Valley lacks any tutorial and is not a game that will take you by the hand and lead you through it. You must want to discover within Stardew Valley and you will quickly learn trial and error is a big part of the learning curve throughout the experience, so don’t be afraid to try new things and fail because you will eventually find a way that suits you to play the game.
As I stated at the beginning I absolutely love Stardew Valley and it will rate among one of the best games I’ve played, I highly encourage you to play it and please don’t be intimidated by the depth of the game, stick with it and I’m sure you will love it