Developed by Concerned Ape and published by Chucklefish, Stardew Valley is a simulation game about farming. However, unlike modern games of the genre, this one has roots in old-school simulation. Inspired by Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley sets itself apart by offering a variety of activities other than just farming. As a matter of fact, during the winter season no farming takes place at all!
So, what is there to do?
There is a wide variety of activities to fill each day. Each player begins with tools and a large parcel of farmland. Once areas have been cleared of other growth, crops can be planted.
In the early stages of the game, an average day consists of taking care of daily items, such as irrigating and harvesting crops, giving the dog water, and feeding the chickens. Then you may have a snack to restore some energy, visit town, review the calendar for birthdays or local events, and see the bulletin board to find out if anyone has posted something they need to have done.
How your day goes from there can vary. It may be time to re-seed the fields that you harvested. If you feel like fishing, visit various areas to catch different types of fish. If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the mines where you can battle monsters while collecting gems and ores.
Outside of player-initiated activities, there is also the storyline. These scenes are presented randomly, with story advancement largely left up to the player. While the developer has revealed there is an ending to the story, luckily that is not the end of the game, and there are enough interesting characters to make the story worthwhile.
Characters are important too
The characters are continually walking around town and seem very basic at first. For example, there may be a jock or a tough girl who seem stereotypical. However, once quests are completed for townsfolk, and presents are given to them, they start to have more dialogue with the player. These conversations reveal their deeper personalities.
As relationships are built with the NPCs, it’s even possible to get married and start a family. After reaching a specific ‘relationship level’ with one of the single townsfolk, the player can propose.
NPCs are also on individual schedules that vary with the season. For example, a certain shop may be empty if the proprietor is out and about doing other things. While this may cause some frustration initially, it’s all part of the game. Players need to be flexible and move on to something else for awhile, until the shop is being tended again.
What is the player’s goal?
The game sets the task of restoring the community center. In order to do this, the player must complete the specific objectives for each room in the center. Once objectives are completed, the room will be returned to its original glory and will also unlock access to new areas of town. The quests, which involve finding specifically-themed items, are long-term goals that cannot be completed straight away.
Stardew Valley encourages players to take the game at their own pace. While certain requests by townsfolk may have a deadline, there is no negative outcome if it isn’t met. If you’d rather spend the day exploring the mines instead of finishing a quest, you can do so with no penalties.
If you’re looking for an interesting way to explore and spend the day, go fishing! Catching a sea creature involves keeping a bar in line with the fish by pressing a button. Each type of fish moves differently in an attempt to avoid being caught, so practiced fisherman will be able to tell what kind of fish they are going to reel in.
Exploring the mines is another great option for a day of fun. Battling the monsters is simple and allows you to collect the loot. It also makes areas safe for you to collect stone and ore resources.
Stardew Valley is a game that has a lot of content, a special atmosphere, and an aesthetic that will leave players wanting more.
The art is well-done and brings the town and characters to life, and even looks good in motion while walking around. The music is well-suited to the game and only improves the experience. The songs are relaxing and smooth.
There are a lot of activities available and you always look forward to new things every time you return.