Oct 13, 2018

Calm farming of “Stardew Valley” (game review)

A review of “Stardew Valley” on the Very Good Games blog
In a beautiful corner of virtual lands, your own farm can be brought to life. And it will offer a vast variety of exciting activities, not only planting vegetables and collecting the harvest. 

I talk about the game “Stardew Valley” – an amazing indie-hit from early 2016. It was released for Windows computers, then ported to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, to Mac and Linux. The developers released a Nintendo Switch version in 2017, and “Stardew Valley” became the most downloaded game for this platform that year. In 2018, gamers got a version for PlayStation Vita. Mobile “Stardew Valley” for iOS is going to be released on October 24 (with possibility to transfer data from the PC version.

The game is absolutely brilliant: it’s a relaxed experience with the freedom of actions, beautiful graphics and atmospheric music, with lots of small features in the single-player mode and the nice multiplayer co-operation. 

The game develops:
#Memory     #Logic     #Planning     #Sociability     #Constancy     #Spatial orientation

When the city life is annoying you too much…

There are quite a few farming simulators, which begin in a similar way – a hero inherits a farm in a rather poor condition, he moves to that place and begins developing it gradually, but not with a premade strict script: in this mean, gameplay of such games a bit similar to Minecraft.

Stardew Valley” does not come up with anything new, and the story is insignificant here, by the way. Your character gets a farm from his grandpa, and after some time of monotonous work in an office, he decides to change the lifestyle drastically. An old house and abandoned land are waiting for a new owner, gladly accepting his efforts to… to any direction, in fact. 

Players may clear surroundings from weeds, stones, and dry wood, or they may do nothing at all on the farm. The game isn’t demanding and very rewarding for any activity.

Just stop and think: “What to do?”

When I started playing Stardew Valley, I was a bit confused by the lack of precise missions and specified ways of doing things, which most of the farming simulators offer to their players. No one expects from you to harvest these particular vegetables or to collect those particular resources. Non-playable characters give some pieces of advice, explain some aspects of the game, ask to do something, but they never demand anything. They give you the freedom to do whatever you want to do, to explore “Stardew Valley”, to find yourself here.

The basic types of activity are:
  • Farming – plant seeds, water them, wait for the harvest, collect and sell it, buy new seeds or saplings, repeat;
  • Gathering resources – walk around the place, collect valuable items, sell them;
  • Mining – visit nearby mines, go deeper and deeper, collect precious ores and gems, battle against funny monsters or just avoid meeting them.
  • Fishing – come close to water ponds, to the ocean, cast a fishing pole, catch a fish, sell it, repeat.

The super good part of “Stardew Valley” is the possibility to combine all those activities in any way you want. Plan something and achieve your goals step by step. Or act depending on your current mood – it’s always up to you, what to do in the game on that particular day (nearly 13 minutes).

All the activities support each other. For example, money from the harvest may help to improve tools and get more from mining. Or fishing will help to buy saplings and to grow valuable fruits with not so much efforts on caring for vegetables.

A review of the game “Stardew Valley”

A social game

There are lots of people, living in Stardew Valley, and all of them are personalities. Communicating with them and making them your friends is one of the most interesting parts of the game. To whom you will be close after a year – to the wizard, to the local carpenter, or to the emo-boy? There lots of ways to explore your own personality through those unreal characters.

The game also brings interacting with real people – through the multiplayer mode. Players may develop their common farm, help each other. The multiplayer mode has been released with an update in 2018, and it’s not available for PS Vita. Some players aren’t happy with its limited functionality, and it may be developed further in the future. But even its current state allow gamers to expand the experience in the game significantly.

A problem of “Stardew Valley”

The freedom of actions is the biggest danger in this game (for the game itself). You always should make a decision – where to go, what to do during the limited time of a day… The process of achieving something is rather long, and as a result, you get mostly some icons in the menu or new possibilities in the same kinds of activity (new equipment for crafting, new recipes for cooking, more heart in relationships with villagers)… 

Seasons change each other, refreshing the game – they bring new graphics, new music, new plants and items for gathering. This repeats year after year with the vague promise of something exciting at the end of the third season cycle. Many players become a bit bored and jump to other game titles before this happens. This is the problem of many “endless games” (with no main boss to defeat, no final area to discover…).

In this game starting new farms in new location types will change the spirit of “Stardew Valley” very significantly, bring the excitement back. This also allows trying new ways in your in-game developing. For example, the forest has lots of woods, and the creepy area with monsters reminds again the famous game Minecraft.

“Stardew Valley” still remains one of the best games I played recently, but there was no final accord for me (like I experienced in “God of War” or “Ratchet and Clank”). Still, I do not regret any minute, spent in “Stardew Valley”, and highly recommend the game as a very good one. Of course, if you like such a genre.

To play “Stardew Valley”, buy the game for your system:

Buy “Stardew Valley” for PlayStation Vita

Buy “Stardew Valley” for Windows computers on Steam        Buy “Stardew Valley” for Apple computers on Steam

Buy “Stardew Valley” for the Xbox One game consoles        Buy “Stardew Valley” for PlayStation 4

Buy “Stardew Valley” for the portable game console Nintendo Switch

See also…
There are some free online business simulators (and farming too) on the Very Good Games blog:

Play free online business simulators on the gaming blog Very Good Games

“Moonlighter” and “The Swords of Ditto” are concentrating on one of the aspects of “Stardew Valley” – dungeon crawling.

Game news on the release of two indie-games: “Moonlighter” and “The Swords of Ditto”

One of the typical endless games is “Subway Surfers” – it has no final goal at all, and players like it for short playing sessions:

Review of a free mobile game Subway Surfers