Title: Stardew Valley
Platform: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One.
Developer: Eric Barone
Publisher: Chucklefish Games, 505 Games (Retail)
Release date: Xbox One, PS4 and PC (Out Now), Nintendo Switch (Q2/Q3)
Price: £10.99/$14.99 (Digital), £15.99/$29.99 (Physical)
TL;DR: Sweet, stylish, and enough to keep you occupied.
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Usually before I buy a game on Steam, I take a few moments to browse the customer reviews. I see it as a testament as to what actual, everyday gamers have to say, and sometimes the longevity of my precious gaming time.
As I write this, I am staring at the Steam store page for what is quite frankly, in my opinion, one of the best games I have played in recent memory. I’m not the only one with this opinion and I know full well my short time on Stardew Valley is only a window to a much longer and just as fulfilling time.
But I digress; if you are reading this, then you are probably in one of two categories:
One, you are interested in Stardew Valley and want hear a few opinions first before you buy: in which case, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? STOP READING! BUY IT NOW!
Or two, you’ve heard talk of the hype and you’re thinking “Okay then what is this game all about?”
If this is you, read on!
Stardew Valley begins small and quaint; you’re a tired office worker disillusioned by the daily grind, and you leave it all to fix up your grandfather’s old farm. You will spend your time here farming, selling your crops for profit, exploring, and meeting the wildly unique characters that populate this gorgeous little town.
Now if you are saying “Hey, doesn’t this sound a little bit like Harvest Moon?” you’d be very right. The game was heavily inspired by Natsume Inc’s classic farm working game series that has been on the shelves since 1996. But before you brush the whole game off, hold on!
Stardew Valley wears its influences very heavily on its sleeve; it knows where it is from and really doesn’t shy from it. But instead of being simply a westernised version of the Japanese game, Stardew Valley adds so much to its very simple roots. A mining system, a fishing system, and even a dungeon crawling system has been added into it, each of which can occupy your time for the small moments when maybe the farming system slows down a tad. Also thrown in for good measure is a semi-story played out in the backdrop, where the company you have tried so hard to escape from has got its clutches on the town, and the civic centre’s fate hangs in the balance.
The gameplay is very similar to that of its influencing series; a button click to use whatever your character is holding in their hand, or if the hand is empty, to pick up what might be at their feet. Easy. It does help, however, to take a little bit of time to make sure you know exactly what you are doing; there is no shame greater than axing down your prized corn crop with a misplaced axe swing.
Visually, Stardew Valley is standard modern indie game stuff; in keeping with the retro RPG look, nothing to write home about. But this isn’t the kind of game all about the look. I personally believe it looks gorgeous, with the cute and quaint characters walking around an equally cute and quaint world.
The soundtrack (supplied nicely by ConcernedApe) suits the game absolutely perfectly. I am completely proud that I did spend the extra fiver and buy it for personal listening later on. It is an absolutely wonderful soundtrack filled with nostalgia for older more retro RPGs, but also sounding a lot fresher than most ‘retro’-esque games.
Stardew Valley is a must buy game, a wonderful little life simulator that keeps you up at night with the constant reminder that, “just one more day till I can harvest.” With a market sometimes oversaturated with big booms and insane visuals, sometimes all you need is to step away from it all and take life a little slower.
- Easy gameplay.
- 100+ hours longevity.
- Gorgeous Soundtrack.
- Very, very much like Harvest Moon (if that’s a con to you)
- Can be a bit of a niche game.
- You’re not playing it right now.
A game so family friendly there should be no worries letting the kids have a go. PEGI 7. ESRB E Rating.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased for the purpose of this review.