Stardew Valley was originally released in February 2016 for PC users, however it only found its way to consoles in December 2016, which is where it caused a mini-storm. Not a COD or GTA storm, but as big a storm as an indie game can do. With this in mind, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Stardew Valley, but maybe you just haven’t quite decided whether you want to pick it up, yet. Hopefully, I can provide you with a light blend of opinion and information to allow you to make your mind up.
Firstly, I would like to talk about Eric Barone as he pretty much built and designed the entire game by himself … To create such an accomplished – and purely blissful – game is an incredible achievement and if they handed out Nobel prizes to game designers, he would be first inline.
So, what is it? Stardew Valley takes all of the very best bits from the Harvest Moon games and trims away the very worst bits and masticates it all together to create this gem. Essentially, he completely stole their idea … if you picked it up without knowing the title you would bet your left kidney (or possibly your right) that it was a Harvest Moon game … just the Harvest Moon game we really want. In my humble opinion Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town is the best Harvest Moon game and ruined the series for me as I could never get into any of the others … I still pick up FOMT from time to time now as it still holds up … Stardew Valley is that, but on consoles ... and with more stuff to do.
I suppose the main addition to Stardew that wasn’t in Harvest (as you can run a farm, get married, make friends, make enemies, go to the shops, upgrade equipment, fish, ride horses, go to town events, meet little forest sprites… and so on) is combat. Stardew adds a combat element to the game which I was a little worried about when I first heard about it, however it fully fits with the entire game. As with Friends of Mineral Town, there is a cave system for mining, and where you can find pressure minerals, materials, and gems that can be sold or used to craft and upgrade; however, this cave (which is 100 levels deep) is infested with monsters that range from irritating bats to almost invincible skeletons (you need to blow them up with a bomb if you want to truly finish them off). The combat system is a fun and natural addition to the game and helps you while away the hours during the long winter months … sound familiar? It really is Harvest Moon but better.
FRIENDS OF MINERAL TOWN
Yes, I said it was better than Harvest Moon. Whilst Harvest made the genre popular, Stardew has built upon it so wonderfully that it really leaves the original games behind in its dust.
After many, many (I mean many) hours, the game can get a little old. Once you’ve bought everything; given all your ducks and cows funny names … I had about 10 pairs of Mulder and Scullys … built and upgraded all your farm buildings; rebuilt the town centre and collected all the rewards; fully renovated your house; planted a thriving orchard; started a brewery … or jam manufacturer … destroyed the evil supermarket; reached the bottom of the mine (and so much more), there does reach a point where there isn’t anything else to do apart from go through the motions. It seems that all the events happen pretty much within the first year or two and there aren’t any surprises for you and your farm as you age. This may seem like I’m trying to find a fault in an essentially faultless game, but it is something I truly feel is missing. Take Minecraft for example (which Stardew has been compared to); the game is constantly evolving with different elements being added in every so often that don’t change the game en masse, but keep it fresh enough that you can return again and again … this is my only criticism, which basically amounts to ‘I wish there was more of it’.
It is an absolute relaxing beauty of a game with its slightly vintage visuals and charming music score. It plays intuitively and focuses more on creativity instead of ‘farming by the numbers’, as the game gives the player more freedom than Harvest Moon and lets you play your way. For anyone who was even slightly into the Harvest Moon games, you need to give this a go … for your own sake.