Stardew Valley is at first glance a farming game with some sandbox building and RPG elements. What it is on the inside is an addictive and unbelievably deep RPG with some farming elements. I have been playing the game for over a week and it’s very difficult to put down as manifested by my steam account showing I’ve played 56 hours of it in about 12 days. The fact is the massive popularity and positive feedback for this game are already apparent in game news and media so I just want to share my perspective and support for this amazing indie masterpiece.
What I enjoyed:
Finally Here – The best thing about Stardew Valley at it’s surface is that it finally brings the game play style of Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons to the PC platform. This seems like an oversight by developers but it hasn’t been done (well) before. The amazing thing about having an experience like this on PC is that mods are easily built and shared to really extend or customize your game to suit your preferences. This style of game on a handheld system has been fun but the popularity of Stardew Valley thus far shows there was a clear need for this sub-genre of game on PC.
Growth Chart – The first year in Stardew Valley is filled with learning experiences which will shape the rest of your game. One of the most pleasant aspects of the game is that you can see your progression in many different areas of the game as you play. Your equipment, home, accessories, furniture, weapons, armor, jewelry, farm buildings, and various farm equipment are all upgraded over time and make clear improvements to your life in the game. I found the depth of the progression to be incredibly well thought out for a game which seems at first glance to be about solely farming, it’s actually a deep RPG set in a great retro style.
Mystery Abundant – I have played through an entire year of Stardew Valley and I still can’t tell you what certain things like the random statues are. I understand there are likely guides and wiki pages to spoil every last bit of it, but I keep learning by simply playing. I find regularly that there are unknown aspects which may unlock or take certain events to figure out. During my first winter a meteor hit my land and my pick ax isn’t currently strong enough to break it, I am thrilled to see what might come of it. It’s a deep game with a substantial amount of thought and content put into it. I haven’t enjoyed a new IP this much possibly since Minecraft, and for many of the same reasons.
What I disliked:
Time’s Passage – While all games have some mechanic tied to time generally built in Stardew Valley is built on time’s passing to some extent. I know this model from the games mentioned in the “Finally Here” paragraph and it’s one I don’t quite embrace. There is something about starting your second year or third year that often makes one ask “Am I going to do this again?” I will certainly play more of the game but with less regularity than my initial “verging on addiction” style sessions. The other aspect of this type of time passage in games is that you often find yourself saying “one more day” and playing another 20-30 minutes each day, leading to some late nights or long sessions.
Overwhelmed to the Helm – There is a vast amount of content in Stardew Valley. I will not be so bold as to say it’s too much but I certainly feel often like there aren’t enough hours in the days to get all the things done needed. Once you become more established it seems as though some automation might help but essentially I found myself with more and more to do daily as I progressed. I enjoyed the game overall but I dislike this very real life notion that I don’t have enough time to get everything done.
There are not many games at the $15 price point you can say have 200+ hours of quality playable content. Stardew Valley is already incredibly popular and the reason is that it’s both fun and fills a void that I think many PC players didn’t even realize was missing until this game was released. I can say without a doubt that you should have bought this game already and if you haven’t, do it. It’s a single developer who clearly has a passion for games, don’t wait for a holiday sale on this one.
Score: Buy it now
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