Chucklefish Stikes Again!
Some of you may remember my look at Starbound not too long ago. I greatly enjoyed the title racking up over 40 hours in just over a week (that’s a lot for me). Having had such a wonderful time with that title, I decided to give the other Chucklefish game in my (grossly large) backlog a look. Stardew Valley is a Havest Moon like game that came out in Febuary 2016. Did it manage to capture my attention like their other title, or did it come up lacking?
I enjoy it more.
Stardew Valley has quickly become one of my most played games of the year, only behind Rocket League, Overwatch, and Hearthstone. The game’s premise is simple: having grown weary of modern living, you into a house your grandfather has willed you in the countryside. Here you can become a farmer, adventurer, converse with the locals, raise animals, cook, and pretty much anything and everything one might expect from a small town life style.
That’s it really. No real goals or objectives, just do what you want.
This isn’t to say that the game doesn’t try and give you things to do. No, far from it in fact. The game is constantly giving you both long-term and short-term objectives that you can choose to complete (usually for a reward) or just completely ignore. It also provides you with a lot of choice, especially in the early parts of the game.
Centrally, the game is really about farming. The game wants you to jump onto the agricultural scene but you don’t have to. Why not go fishing for the day? Why not explore the town? Why not…? Of course, the best idea is to explore a bit of everything but Stardew Valley wants you to play the way you want. This is both a blessing and a curse for the game.
At the very start of the game it can feel a little overwhelming due to how much choice you have as a player. There is just so much to do and seemingly not enough time to do any of it. The game tries to mitigate that by keeping some sections of the map off limits until you’ve progressed far enough (via some track, game time, etc…) but there is just a lot of do, even with that.
Personally, I started off focusing on a small farm. I then spent my time harvesting and fishing as I waited for my crops to grow. I quickly made a lot of money and progress in the game which I just kind of saved. I didn’t know much about the game, but I did know about some things that come into play once you are a little bit into the game. Primarily, the community center.
The only major choice Stardew Valley offers is whether you should restore the community center or join up with the in-game company that totally isn’t Wal-Mart. Once the choice was available I quickly got involved with restoring the community center, almost completely restoring it by the end of year 1. I did this by creating a routine that I would follow each “day” in the game. This may sound boring, but it was very rewarding and a lot more engaging than it probably sounds.
Some days my goal was to fish a lot, other days my goal was to explore deeper into the mines, and other days I just talked to people in town. No matter what the goal for the day was, I made sure to stick to my routine and follow set routes that I had made for myself which is how I was able to almost complete the community center so quickly. For me, this was a driving force in getting me to return to the game and by doing so, I discovered even more cool stuff in the game.
Even now, despite having basically finished up the community center, I still feel like there is a lot I haven’t even done yet. I haven’t tried raising animals at all, I haven’t really discovered many secrets, and I am nowhere near close to completing the museum collection. Stardew Valley is really open-ended in that way and that’s a big reason why I love it.
For some people, the open-ended nature of the game just isn’t going to cut it. The goals may be too long-term or too far and few between to retain interest. Here’s where the quest system comes into play. Their are two types of quests in the game, one that drives the story and ones that the game offers you as optional niceties you can do for the townsfolk.
Story quests can sometimes be completed fairly easily and usually are used to teach you game mechanics and explore the game some. As you get farther into the game though, the story quests can become more long-term though. Sometimes they can take a few in game days, or they might take you a full in game year to complete, but there’s enough of them and they are spread out enough, that they still manage to feel rewarding and relevant as you play.
The optional quests are given to the player via a “request board” in the town center. They are usually just basic fetch quests with an occasional kill quest thrown in. Pretty basic stuff, but they need to be completed in a very short time frame. These quests offer an opportunity to break of the “sameness” some people may find in the game, but they also offer some short-term goals for folks that need them to keep interest.
Stardew Valley offers a lot more in terms of gameplay than just this. There is a fairly in-depth crafting system that becomes more developed the further into the game you get. On top of that, their is optional combat that you can get into with weapons and gear. While both systems aren’t particularly complex, nor do they feature a ton of options, there is certainly more than enough in the current systems to be satisfactory for most.
One thing I ought to mention is that Stardew Valley often gets compared to the Harvest Moon franchise. I’ve never once played a Harvest Moon game, but Stardew Valley kind of makes me want to. That’s a feat in and of itself and worthy of its own discussion, but it really shows how engaging the game can be.
There is a lot more that I could say about Stardew Valley, I could talk about the relationship elements, the seasons mechanics, or a whole plethora of things but a lot of the game is discovering these things for yourself. There are a lot of little surprises in this game, and I haven’t even experienced them all. I can’t stress how much this game really just needs to be experienced, it’s not something you can really “get” from just reading about it.
So would I recommend Stardew Valley? Absolutely. You can buy the game on Steam for $14.99 or your regional equivalent. It’s worth every cent at that price but it may go on sale in the future if you are willing to wait. If anything I encourage everyone to at least try the game. Thanks to Steam’s refund policy, there is absolutely no excuse to not give it a go.
Have you played Stardew Valley before? Let me know your thoughts on the game in the comments below. Remember to like and share the article if you enjoyed it, this lets others know about the content here and lets me know people enjoy this type of content. Until next time!