Stardew Valley Review-The Neverending Grind that never gets dull

As I log my 80th hour on Stardew Valley, I can’t help but let out a sigh. Not because the game is boring me. Not because I have grown tired of the game. But because, there is simply still so much to do, so much to achieve, so much to accomplish. Despite logging what many would consider an unhealthy amount of time on this game, I’d be surprised if I’d uncovered half of its treasure trove of content. Every time I think I’ve inched my way a bit closer to the end of this unending game, something new pops up, surprising me and reminding me that there is still much of this game I have yet to discover. Unlike Bloons Tower Defence 5, the game I reviewed last week that was bogged down by tedious, repetitive content, I somehow never tire of Stardew Valley’s endless grind. Whether it’s the well drawn out characters, the beautiful soundtrack or the pure eye candy that is the game’s graphics, I never find myself wanting to stop playing. Even more startling is the fact that Stardew Valley was made by a SINGLE man. I don’t know what sacrifice he had to make to Satan to achieve so much in the span of around 3 years but from my experience of the game, I can definitely say it was more than worth it. So, today I am going to attempt to compress as much of this game as possible into a single review. I’ve already done about 250 words on the introductory paragraph so I suppose I better move on before I get carried away.

Although there are many, many, MANY various tasks you can do in Stardew Valley, the primary focus is farming. This comes as no surprise considering the creator, Eric Barone was a fan of the Harvest Moon series as a kid and wanted to make a PC equivalent. I’ve never really found myself drawn to this genre of games yet Stardew Valley does a good job of introducing you to the core mechanics. At first, I felt a bit lost but it only took me a couple of hours to get into the routine. Hoe the ground, plant crops and water them every day. It may seem quite tedious but strangely, the farming in Stardew Valley is anything but. On my second in-game year, I’ve never once tired of planting, watering and harvesting crops. Eventually, you’ll save up enough gold to buy some animals. Starting with chickens, you’ll eventually have a thriving farm with ducks, sheep, cows, pigs and rabbits giving a neat sense of progression as you convert your overgrown plot of land into a place you’ll call home. There are five different types of farms you can choose from when you first choose your character: Standard, Forest, Riverland, Hill-top and  Wilderness. I chose the Forest farm so I don’t have much knowledge of the others but they look radically different on the wiki. Finally, you can decorate and upgrade your small cottage to a full-blown family home with awesome furniture and a useful kitchen where you can put food in the fridge which is automatically used up when making food.

If that doesn’t seem like your cup of tea however, that’s no problem! There are a wealth of tasks to complete and events to attend. There’s a simple, yet satisfying fishing mechanic, villagers to seduce and befriend(I’ll get back to that later) and a community centre to rebuild among other things. What I most enjoyed though, was exploring the depths of the mines. As well as being able to mine ore and glittering jewels to fulfil various purposes, there are monsters to hunt! Despite the combat system being woefully simple and unexciting, I nevertheless found myself finding great enjoyment in working towards the nearby Adventurer’s Guild’s Monster Eradication Goals. While some of them are frankly ridiculous(I still haven’t killed 1,000 slimes), it gave me a clear goal to work towards and made me feel like I was making progress by slaying whatever foul beasts decided to cross my path in the mines. I was mournful upon reaching the final floor, but inside a chest in the room was a key for a new, much harder dungeon: the Skull Cavern. Now you might be starting to see what I mean about one task instantly replacing another, just like the heads of a hydra.

One of the other things you can do in Stardew Valley is the aforementioned mission of befriending the villagers. There are around 25 villagers in Stardew Valley with 12 of them being available to marry. The daunting introduction task that has you hunt down and talk to every villager in the village doesn’t do them justice. Over time, however, you’ll slowly get to know the inhabitants like you’ve known them your whole life. They all have their own personalities, likes and dislikes, quirks and backstory. There’s the emo, angsty teenage group of Abigail, Sebastian and Sam who I quickly found myself drawn to, an inventor called Maru with her inventor dad Demetrius and carpenter mother Robin, an aspiring young teacher called Penny and her alcoholic mother, Pam. That’s not even scratching the surface. I haven’t mentioned, Gus the bartender, Lewis the mayor, Shane the depressed, drunk mid-life crisis guy. You can slowly get them to warm up to you by just talking to them every day but giving them gifts will speed it up, especially on their birthday. They all have their own events where you learn more about them and bond with them further. Eventually, you’ll even get to marry whomever you choose. Then they’ll move in with you, help you out on the farm and you even get to have kids with them as I have with Abigail.

As well as that, there are two festivals every season where the whole town gets together whether it’s to celebrate a parallel of our real life holidays such as the Feast of the Winter Star on the 25th of Winter or for some other reason, such as the beautiful Dance of the Moonlight Jellies. These events provided a nice break from my daily routine of farming, fishing and mining and gave me a larger feeling of community, allowing me to bond with the villagers further. Some events such as the Stardew Valley Fair also have fun little minigames with prizes to make it worthwhile. I literally had to tear myself away from the fishing minigame during the Stardew Valley Fair. What’s unfortunate however, is that these events don’t really change every year meaning the first Flower Dance you attend will be basically the same as the one you attend on your 5th year with the same dialogue and cutscenes. This takes away from the experience a bit but the events are still, nevertheless, a fun distraction.

So here I am at over 1,000 words and there’s just SO much I have yet to mention. I barely covered marriage and raising a family. I didn’t mention anything about building up the museums’ collection. I barely even mentioned the two different ways you can rebuild and upgrade certain parts of the town. There’s probably even more that has slipped my mind or I haven’t even discovered yet and that’s the best part about Stardew Valley. You’re never short of stuff to do. As I am about to open up my game for the umpteenth time, I let out a sigh. There’s still just so much to do.

Pros:

  • A close to infinite treasure trove of content
  • Never gets dull and there is always something to do
  • Breathtaking pixel graphics
  • Developed characters
  • Plenty of replayability
  • A total of 40 achievements that take a while to achieve
  • Beautiful soundtrack

Cons:

  • Repetitive dialogue
  • Simple and uncreative combat system
  • Doing certain tasks such as milking cows can be clunky and annoying

Verdict: 9/10

Buy the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/413150/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s