Stardew Valley Review

Welcome to the simple life.

If I could summarize my experience with Stardew Valley in one word, I would use the word: charming. To review a game like this with only one word would be a massive disservice to a game that’s captured my attention so easily. It doesn’t fit into the mold of many similar games, but that’s a good thing for many reasons.

I originally believed Stardew Valley to be an Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon clone, and while that proved to be a selling point for me (I love those types of games), I was pleased to learn that there’s far more to it than meets the eye.

GAMEPLAY

Stardew Valley Mining.png
No harm in spending a little time underground

Life is simple in Stardew Valley. You wake up, tend to your crops, say hello to the local townsfolk, try to strike up a conversation with the pretty people, go spelunking, fish for crabs and boots, forage for fruits and vegetables, fight giant moths and slime monsters, aid the local magical creatures, and fight the man.

Also, you occasionally get to attend a festival or two.

While the the story is a major focus of Stardew Valley, the manner in which you accomplish your goals is a matter of choice. If you lack a green thumb, you can earn cash by heading into the mines to either collect precious metals or slaughter fiendish foes. Of course, it’s rather easy to make a big profit by growing things like cauliflower or strawberries, raising livestock, or going fishing.

Each activity is well handled in the game, with controls being of the clicky nature. Managing your inventory is relatively easy, though juggling items initially can be a challenge with only ten slots to store things in on your person. Obviously there are other limitations to contend with as well, such as your health and energy levels.

Health really only comes into play when you’re engaging in combat, like when you’re delving into the depths while carrying out tasks for the townsfolk and Adventurer’s Guild. Luckily, you won’t die if your health drops to zero; you just get picked up and carried off by the locals to safety.

Energy, on the other hand, is a far more precious resource. Everything you do takes up your energy, whether you’re fishing, plowing soil, or just going on a lumberjack’s frenzy through your property’s flora.

PRESENTATION

Stardew Valley Out Late.png
It’s not terribly dangerous at night, just dark and sleep-inducing

Stardew Valley appears to follow the design philosophy of games like Terraria, favoring retro graphics and written dialogue over more realistic visuals. Like with Terraria however, that isn’t a detractor. Stardew Valley‘s art direction is delightful, drawing from the SNES era of games, with sprite-style characters paired with detailed portraits for conversations. It’s by no means ground-breaking, but it works perfectly for the purposes of the game.

The same goes for the sound design. Dialogue is forgone in favor of text, with retro game sounds and a catchy 16-bit style soundtrack. So catchy in fact, that I decided to get the soundtrack for my own personal enjoyment!

ORIGINALITY

Stardew Valley Joja Corp.png
Nothing wrong with shopping at Joja

Like I said earlier, when I first saw Stardew Valley, it reminded me of games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. The objective of building relationships and pursuing a simple life, paired with light story elements. One thing’s for sure though; Stardew Valley actually has something more to it.

I’ll say it again. Stardew Valley is a charming game, which is sadly pretty rare these days. There’s a good mix of drama and humor, along with a little bit of fantasy. Who doesn’t want to slay a few monsters in a cave between bouts of watering plants?

STORY

Stardew Valley Bus Stop.png
Welcome to town!

In Stardew Valley, you play as someone who has grown tired of the daily grind, working for Walmart the Joja Corporation. The protagonist is heir to a plot of land in a small, quaint town, and eventually gives in to the promise of a better life far away from the issues of modern living.

Moving out to the boondocks carries with it new challenges, and possibly even love. It quickly becomes apparent that JojaMart (a subsidiary of the company the protagonist worked for) is trying to encroach on the town’s economy and drive out the local competition.

The story itself is fun and lighthearted, even though it delves into the topic of consumerism quite heavily. Surprisingly, it’s possible to give into the benefits of supporting the JojaMart over the community, which changes the game’s dynamics slightly. Doing so makes sourcing seeds for your farm a little more difficult, because JojaMart charges a premium for them compared to Pierre’s (the local market).

I never had the heart to do that however.

WILDCARD: RELAXING WHILE WORKING

On paper, Stardew Valley sounds pretty boring. The majority of the game consists of doing chores, day in and day out. But somehow it isn’t… It’s weird.

I mean, you’d have a helluva time convincing me to go out and plow a field, sow seeds, and water them every day, but for some reason I feel totally at home in Stardew Valley. The way that the tasks, quests, and overall story is laid out works well. Everything is doled out in smaller increments, and that works out in its favor. Those small changes over time give the sense of constant accomplishment, which is the psychology behind clicker games. The only difference here is that the game is actually good.

Revelations

I knew I had a good feeling about Stardew Valley when I first heard about it. The retro graphics, the calm tones of the wonderful music, and the excellent setting are a perfect combination. Stardew Valley is a must-buy for anyone that’s a fan of games like Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon, or a game that can be played in small increments.

And if Stardew Valley ever makes it onto the Nintendo Switch, it will be even more of a hit.


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18 thoughts on “Stardew Valley Review

  1. great review! I am waiting on the Switch version myself. I could get it on Steam but I really want to play this on the go.

    I didn’t know the premise behind it all that you are trying to drive back corporate greed of JojoMart of whatever. I also didn’t know you could make decisions that favor the corporate side of things, so that alone has already peeked my interest even more, as if it already wasn’t high enough.

    I love Harvest Moon on the SNES, I played countless hours on that, raised the best crops, had tons of live stock, wife and child, tons of money. Really looking for something to relive those memories, and this seems to be it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I might actually have to check this out – even though I never really played Animal Crossing nor Harvest Moon. But I have always wanted to! (I started Animal Crossing once, but we ended up selling our 3DSs so I… yeah. T.T)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I keep on trying to get invested in this game. I bought it when I knew I would have some time to kill and ended up getting bored. It didn’t make sense why I didn’t like it. I’m a fan of Animal Crossing and, in a lot of ways, this is kinda the same thing. I’ll give it another shot eventually. Probably when it comes out on the switch.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That isѕ such a enjoyаble recreаtion аnd we
    had an ideaⅼ Ƅirthday Daddy.? Larry addеd. ?Can we ρlaү ?Ꮃhat?s the best thing aboᥙt
    God? tomοrrow too?? hе beggеd his Mommy.

    Like

  5. Nice review! One of my friends is in love with this game, has been for many hours according to his Steam record! It looks like a great time, and as you said, charming. Sometimes the simplest concept can be the most appealing.

    I didn’t know about the whole big box store vs mom and pop shop thing. Interesting dynamic.

    I guess what appeals to players for these kinds of games is playing around with the possibility of doing exactly what the player in the game does – abandoning modern living for something quaint and quiet. We all want to do it sometimes, but most never will because it’s got its own challenges without the modern payoff. The constant reward of reaping what you literally sow can be addicting!

    Liked by 1 person

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