Stardew Valley is a farming/country life Role Playing Game (RPG) that was released on February 26th, 2016. The developer is a one man team, ConcernedApe, and published by Chucklefish. Currently only available on Steam, but there are plans to expand to Mac as well as Playstation 4, Wii U and XBOX One later in 2016.
The character creation is great, the player can choose gender, the style, and colour of clothing and even if the character is a cat or dog person (which will determine which pet is received.) Once the player has made the character they want to play as they can name it and then the game begins.
The player starts as a young man or woman depending on the gender that is selected in the character creation. Beginning with the player inheriting their grandfather’s farm, they arrive at Stardew Valley to find the farm derelict and full of weeds, trees, and rocks. With minimal coins to start with, they begin their farming journey. The game starts off in spring, with a selection of spring crops, fruit trees and grass seeds available at your local store.
In Stardew Valley there are actually two stores. One is a locally owned store, Pierres General Store, and the other is a commercial store, Jojamart. Jojamart is slowly running Pierre’s out of business and wants to redevelop the town, starting by knocking down the community centre. You can choose to shop from either, and even buy a Jojo Membership. This choice also affects the town. If you choose to back Jojamart, the community centre is destroyed and replaced with a warehouse. Any town developments will go through Joja Corporations instead of the community centre and town itself.
Whichever choice the player makes, both stores sell everything the farm needs to thrive. Several different crops are offered each season, fruit trees and cooking products all year round, as well as grass seeds. You can unlock more goods by playing for a while or completing certain quests. There is also a blacksmith, where the player can upgrade their tools, open geodes found while mining and buy metals and stones for crafting.
The library and museum share the same building. The library is a great place to get hints and tips once you start finding the books. The museum is where the player can donate any artifacts and minerals found while mining. The player is rewarded for certain amounts of donations. For an example: Donate five items and the player receives nine packets of cauliflower seeds. Donate ten items and the player will get nine packets of melon seeds and so on. Once the player reaches larger numbers the rewards become more expensive as well.
The Carpenter’s shop is where the player can upgrade the farm-house, build coops and barns and any general buildings for the farm. The farm initially starts with just a basic farm-house. The player must collect a certain amount of wood and stones as well as the coins necessary before building any coops or barns. Once the player builds a coop, they are able to buy chickens. There are also ducks, rabbits and even dinosaurs that use the coop. Dinosaurs are hatched from dinosaur eggs, found while mining. Once the barn is built the player can purchase cows. Other barn animals that can be unlocked are goats, sheep, and pigs.
There is also a stable that can be built through the carpenters shop, this will allow the player to get a horse. The horse will make travelling a lot faster, which comes in handy when the player is making trips to the mines or up the mountain.
Stardew Valley also has many festival days throughout the year, as well as animal and crop competitions throughout the year. There are also Annual holidays as well. Each have different requirements, some have none. Each villager has their own story that can be unlocked the closer in friendship they are. The player makes friends by giving them gifts. Each villager has preferences in regards to gifts. There are 5 bachelors and 5 bachelorettes that the character can woo and marry. Once married they can assist around the farm if their happiness is kept high.
Stardew Valley is an almost never ending game in regards to the farming aspect. The only real ‘end-game’ is when the player accumulates a lot of money, after which everything is exceptionally easy to do. Making money can be quite easy with the right planning, however, there is always something that can be done so even this is not a massive issue.
The game has roughly two hours of original music. This music is a wonderful accompaniment to the game, adding even more charm to an already charming game. Each season has a different tone and really makes the shift of time work wonders. At the end of each day, you can save simply by going to bed.
Stardew Valley has been compared, a lot, to Harvest Moon on the Super Nintendo. The game was definitely inspired by it, and it shows. But it isn’t a clone of it either and certainly doesn’t try to be. It has its own charm and personality that differs to the feel Harvest Moon evinces.
Although it has been called a Harvest Moon-esque game, Stardew Valley has its own appeal, style and honestly even improves a lot on the Harvest Moon on Super Nintendo, which was the inspiration for the game. The characters are amazing, with their own stories and likes/dislikes. The graphics work really well and are very cheerful and easy on the eyes. The music never gets old and sets the mood for each season. If you adore Harvest Moon, definitely try this game, but don’t expect it to be a carbon copy and don’t get upset with the similarities either. Stardew Valley definitely holds it’s own in the Farm/Country Life RPG genre and can easily chomp away many hours of your gaming life. If you love farming games, though, grab a copy and let us know what you think!