Late to Game(r) – Stardew Valley

This post is from a guest writer on the blog! Enjoy.

I am Alison, the aforementioned gamer, and I tend to be late to most games because I don’t have the money or  time to play games when they first come out. Most, if not all, of the titles I own I purchased with deep discounts during a Steam sale. But, this situation lends itself to some important questions: Do the games still live up to the hype? Did they have patches that fixed everything? That ruined everything? LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

The game under scrutiny this week is Stardew Valley, which was released in February of 2016. Stardew Valley is a country life RPG with pixel graphics.  The main purpose of the game is for the player to run a successful farm as well as restore the town’s decrepit community center. There are also a number of alternative goals built into the game that the player can prioritize as she chooses: kill all the monsters in the mine, catch all the fish, make friends with all the villagers, complete the museum collections and more. The beauty of Stardew Valley is that there is no wrong way to play.

What I liked about Stardew Valley:

The farm: It’s hard to find a review of Stardew Valley that doesn’t include the words relaxing or soothing. It is difficult to exactly pin down why it’s so soothing, but I think it’s that the game is repetitive enough to be easy and relaxing without being so repetitive that it’s a grind. Also the agricultural economy of Pelican Town (the fictional town) is booming so your crops  always sell at a profit! Pumpkins and Melons are vegetable gold!!

The graphics: Normally, I don’t love pixel graphics, as a 90s child the nostalgia just doesn’t work for me, but these are adorable. The creator put some serious love into the game’s appearance. I’ve put hours and hundreds of gold pieces into my home’s appearance alone, not even mentioning my beautiful pastures and field configurations.

The seasons: Time passes and seasons change bringing a new appearance, new music, new crops, and new village events every season. Villagers also have new things to talk about, which is super cute. There is a calendar in the town square and if you give a villager a gift on their birthday, they will think you are a GREAT person! The seasons add a nice sense of time and place to Pelican Town and add to the game’s overall charm.

Relationships: You can date everyone in the town regardless of gender. Well, assuming they are date-able. When I first started playing, I put a LOT of time and gifts into impressing the town’s blacksmith hoping he would give me sweet discounts if we became an item. But, alas, we only became best friends as many of the villagers are not available for dating. However, there are 12 different single candidates (6 men, 6 women), which provides plenty of options. Who will it be: The athlete? The loner? The sculptor? The scientist?

What I didn’t like:

Misclicks: It’s unfortunately pretty easy to accidentally gift someone an item that you weren’t intending. Several times, I have accidentally “gifted” villagers with live bait, and they were (legitimately) grossed out. I have also accidentally eaten what I had intended to gift on occasion, which is also a bummer. This is by-no-means a game breaking element because the solution is to be more careful, but the amount of times I’ve yelled “OMG don’t eat it! It’s not FOR you!” suggests the frustration of this issue.

The mines: They are the grindy-est aspect of the game. I don’t hate them, but I enjoy others aspects way more. Getting to the bottom was fun, but killing all the monsters is proving kinda boring. And, once you have 300 silver ores, finding more loses its appeal.

The story’s end: As someone who loves structure, I was a little sad once I completed the community center and then there weren’t any other goals to complete. It’s great for those who love open worlds though. I’ve been scratching my goal-oriented itch by going for achievements.

The bug: In my current game, I am experiencing a bug where I completed a quest, but never got the item that should have been awarded. Now I can’t access a special area of the game. I hope this is patched eventually.

After playing 170 hours of Stardew Valley I can say it definitely lives up to the hype. As promised it’s a soothing, casual foray into country living. The developer has also added a number of new features and bug fixes since its original release. Worth it!

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