Publisher: Chucklefish Games
Genre: Simulation, Role-Playing
Memories of Harvest Moon 64 had come back to me upon watching the trailers for Stardew Valley. Harvest Moon was a game you would see consistently on a television screen somewhere in our house back in the day, mostly because of my sister. I did not put a ton of time into it, but I admired the way social things worked in the gameas you interact with the townsfolk. All of these things first introduced to us in Harvest Moon, we discovered later in Animal Crossing, in which we all put hundreds of hours into a couple years later. Stardew Valley is a beautiful combination of the things found in these games.
Stardew Valley is a family-friendly game.No major violence can be found here. The most you will see is killing monsters in the mines, and even then, all they do is fade away into an item for you to pick up. I would give this game an E 10+ rating for a few specific reasons. The first is that you can consume alcohol. It is an option, but there is a saloon where beer is sold. I am not entirely sure if the player character can get drunk—the most I found it that is slows down the player significantly. The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that in this game you can get married and same sex-marriages are possible. Lastly, I’m pretty sure you can have children as long as you’re with the opposite sex, and knowing how this game works, I’m positive that sex may be implied in that regard while I have not explored any of these mechanics for myself.
It was a tough decision where to start with this review because there is so much you can do in the world of Stardew Valley, so I’m going to cover some of the core mechanics of the game. You really do have a number of options when it comes to making money, but the best way is to start your farm. When you get there, it is full of trees, rocks, and grass. You are given a full tool set at the very beginning. It does give you a few tips but no real tutorial unfortunately This might be discouraging for gamers who get their hand held at the start of every video game these days. For example, when I started, I did not realize that there was an energy meter, for the first few days I would burn out around the afternoon after continuously chopping wood and breaking rocks. I started to make money by selling some of these resources as I cleaned up my farm, but I recommend saving as much of these resources as you can after you begin purchasing seeds, that is because you will need these things if you want to get a barn or stable built or your house upgraded down the road.
Speaking of building structures, when you go visit the carpenter, you will notice that she requires different materials like iron and copper in order to build certain things. These resources can be found in none other than the mines. When entering, you will be given a sword by the leader of the adventurer guild in order to take on some of the creatures down there. The mines themselves are procedurally generated, but not every time you go in. You will notice an elevator system that isn’t working when you first enter. This will start working once you go five levels deep into the mine. Your progress will be remembered every five floors you go. This is so that you can come back another day if you need health or are running out of energy. However there is a catch: if you are defeated or pass out you will “forget” everything you knew about the dungeon. That basically means you need to get that elevator working again and that the layout of each floor will be different. The two ways you can advance to the next floor are to break open whatever rock is hiding the ladder, the other way is to kill all the enemies, the ladder will not appear unless you do so. I must say that it is very clever on the developer’s part to include a rogue-like characteristic in a game like this to make things interesting almost every time you enter the mines.
Another great way to make money is through fishing even though it can be kind of difficult. At the beginning of the game, if you go down to the beach you will be given one by a guy who works down at the docks. I believe you can sell him any fish you catch. Unfortunately I would spend so much time fishing that he would close before I had the chance to take them to him. So I would just throw it is the same box I would put my crops or resources to sell. When fishing you hold down the button to gain distance on your cast, when you get a bite its time to hit that button again. As you do so a mini game will begin—a fish icon will slid up on down a transparent bar and you must line up your marker with it. As you are doing this another meter next to it will start to fill up, You will find success when that meter completely fills up. I personally am not very good at this but I do know that you upgrade your fishing skills just like any other of your skills and you can also upgrade your rod. Kudos to the person who is very skilled at this and is making some steady coin doing so.
The social aspect of this game is taken straight from Harvest Moon, with the friendship mechanic and the events that take place in the community throughout the seasons. I am not entirely sure how far Harvest Moon went with relationships, but in Stardew Valley you can get married and have the option to have or adopt children. I have not seen any of this for myself, but I assure you that I am working on that. The seasonal events are something I enjoyed from the Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing games and are pretty cool here too. In the spring there is an egg hunt to represent Easter and later in the month is a flower festival to commemorate the season. All of these things immerse the player into what feels like a living breathing community.
As you can tell, the game is directly inspired by the 16 bit graphics we have come to know and love from our days playing the SNES or Sega Genesis. The developers did well in creating special effects to show what kind of day it was, if you check the weather channel on your television on the previous day it might say there will be a high pollen count, when you wake up on that day you will find flower pedals floating around in the wind. In some cases the clouds even fly low and you can see their silhouettes as they pass. The music itself is very good, each are very upbeat unless its night time or you are in the mines, and all of them stick to the game’s theme and give it a layer of style.
If this game is somehow sitting in your backlog of games I highly recommend you to change that. Stardew Valley is not a hard game; it is easy enough for anyone to pick up and deep enough to get lost in. There is so much to do that it has something for just about every kind of gamer. When you do get the chance to play it you will see why many players have poured hundreds of hours into this game. The pacing itself has kept players moving through the seasons at a pretty steady pace. I’m going to go ahead and say that Stardew Valley is one of the best games currently in my Steam library.
The Bottom Line