Alright, gather round my lovely readers…. I have a secret to tell you.
I am a closet video game nerd. Yes, you heard it, I enjoy video games. I mostly play simulation games like The Sims series and really, any game that lets me live an alter ego life, design a character, and/or my dream house/world… I’m probably in. I am also a fan of good point and click adventure games. I recently played The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav & Memoria series, and it was a great example of a good ol’ point and click Adventure game. Before that, I was on The Whispered World, also by Daedalic, a German game studio.
The reason when I am sharing this side of me with you, is because I wanted to talk about this new awesome game S bought for me a few days back. It was said to be something along the lines of Harvest Moon & Animal Crossing, and while I had probably played those games very briefly when I was younger, I never got into them.So, I was slightly skeptical when S told me he already bought it for me, hoping I would like it.
So it began… I started playing Stardew Valley, an indie RPG by ConcernedApe. Yes, 1 man developed this entire game, how impressive is that?? Here’s the official trailer:
The game begins with your grandfather leaving you a letter, and you only open it years and years later when you find yourself stuck in a dead end cubicle job at Joja Corp. Joja Corp is essentially a soul-sucking Walmart-like corporation, that later on features in Stardew Valley as well. So, anyway, you game character opens the letter grandpa left, and lo and behold, it is a deed to a farm in Stardew Valley, some obscure countryside place. You leave your un-fulfilling corporate life behind, catch the next bus to Stardew Valley and embark on a new adventure.
I think the first thing that appeals to me was the adorable background music. It puts you in a happy mood, as you truck off to the countryside and start a new life. There’s nature, sunshine, cute townies… and cheery music. So, I looked this up and the game contains about 2 hours of original music that this one guy ConcernedApe made. I was thoroughly impressed as I played along, trying to imagine one guy being responsible for all the aspects of this game (and there are SO MANY aspects). It must take some serious dedication (over 2 years from what I’ve read) to make this your full-time project.
Anyway, the game graphics are done up in 2D old school pixels, which makes it super nostalgic, like when you were playing Pokemon on your old gameboy (or in my case, my younger brother’s gameboy). While there are no fancy 3D hyper realism graphics, it’s a colorful, vibrant and happy game world you get brought into. I can’t stop highlighting this fact, because this game actually makes you happy. I mean, I pretty much ditched my big city skyscraper corporate life for life in small town New England in reality, so yeah, this is very similar to that concept.
The game is very open-ended, making you feel like the possibilities are endless. You can take your time to do what you like in your days at Stardew Valley. There are quests, but all of them are optional. If you choose not to fulfill any of them, it’s perfectly fine. I guess in this way, it is like The Sims. I love the freedom and creativity such games allow for. There are plenty of guides online with tips and tricks, but I find that I feel so much more invested in my little farmer’s life when I explore the town and all its quirks, by myself. So, what do you do in Stardew Valley, you ask? Here’s a day in the life of my little farmer character Jasia:
Journal of Jasia
Hi everyone! I’m Jasia and I have recently moved to Stardew Valley to inherit my grandfather’s farm. Stardew Valley is a pretty fantastic little town on the Southern Coast. My farm is in the center of the valley, a rather convenient location. To the east of my farm is adorable Pelican Town, filled with interesting characters that I can interact with. We help each other out a lot, and people post notices on the Bulletin Board outside Pierre’s General Store to ask for help. One time, the local carpenter Robin lost her precious and favorite ax. She posted it on the bulletin, and I found it for her when I was picking up wild spring onions south of the valley! It really is a close knit community, and there are regular seasonal festivals each year. It is a lot of fun living here, and everyone is so nice!
I am supposed to share a day in typical day in my life with you, so let’s dive right in. At 6am every morning, it is rise and shine for me. I basically jump out of bed each day so excited about the day to come. I put on the television to hear the weather forecast and watch some morning TV while I have my breakfast. I feed my cat Olaf who loves getting cuddled and snuggling up by the fireplace. After breakfast, I start work in my farm. I plow the fields, fertilize them, plant my seeds, water the plants and harvest when it is time. Sometimes Olaf follows me around the farm, but other times he would wander off to do his own thing. My grandfather’s farm is a huge place, so I am sure it is very exciting for an adventurous cat like Olaf. As I have just moved here not long ago, most of the farm is still wildly overgrown, I have cleared out a small patch of land in front of my cottage, but I am sure I will keep clearing as I go.
Next, I tend to my farm animals, giving them hugs and hay. I have 2 cows and 4 chickens in my modest little farm, and I collect eggs and milk from them, that I turn into jars of mayonnaise and small batch cheeses. I also have some preservers that I use to turn crops into jams and pickles, as well as a nice little bee hive where I get honey from. Finally, there are my maple trees that I am tapping for golden maple syrup. I sell my local produce, as well as create quite a good number of small batch handcrafted artisan goods for sale in limited quantities exclusively at Pierre’s General Store. I want to support the local small businesses, especially after Joja Corp moved into town and took away so much business from poor Pierre!
I spend a nice part of my days interacting with my new neighbors in Pelican Town. I am becoming fast friends with the nice granny Evelyn, the local doctor Harvey and Sam the musician. Sometimes I make them (and other townies) some nice cooked meals as a gift and they seem to love it! I spend a few hours fishing each day too. I was so terrible at it when I first started, but have since gotten better. I sell some fish each day, as well as whatever cool corals and sea creatures I can find on the beach, to the local fisherman Willy. He always appreciates a fresh catch and I get to earn some income with my new found skill. On rainy days, I head into the mines to crack some rocks. Sometimes I find valuable items to either donate to the museum, or smelt into metal bars to be sold to Clint, the local Blacksmith. He is such a funny guy, and his eyes light up when he talks about mining, metals, and rocks.
I love watching the kids run around in the town square or near the playground, and always start up conversations with anyone I meet in town. It is a small community, so literally everyone knows everyone here, you can’t even avoid it! Sometimes I work harder on my farm, and clear the land for resources that I can use to craft items such as an oak chest, a scarecrow, fences and machines for my artisan products. As I mentioned previously, there are also town festivals all the time, and on those days we have fun activities all day and everyone gathers to socialize and party.
Life is so different here in Stardew Valley. I am no longer trapped in a cubicle doing mind-numbing data entry work! My days are now filled with nature, people and a whole lot of love. I have taken up new hobbies like fishing, cooking, mining, crafting and of course, farming! Life is carefree, relaxing and just filled with happiness. But it is not boring, not at all, and I often wish there were more hours in a day for me to enjoy all these activities. The air here in Stardew Valley is definitely fresher, and I swear the grass is greener too.
Some screenshots (take from the Stardew Valley Steam page
I cannot recommend this game enough. If you enjoyed Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, or any farming RPG, this is definitely for you! Here are some features of the game that I am in love with:
+High level customization of your game character
+Design your own farm and cottage with easy crafting tools (all the furniture in your house can be moved easily), and you can easily get new decorations/furniture, including wallpaper and flooring in town!
+Plenty of content: Planting crops, rearing farm animals, fishing, mining, crafting (like Minecraft), cooking, relationship development with townies, fulfilling quests/missions, making cheese, honey, jams, pickled items…. the list is endless!
+A very layered game, with hoards of secrets, quirks for discovery. It is never boring, and endlessly entertaining. It makes me so happy to discover new things and surprises along the way.
+NPC (Non-playable characters) have incredibly interesting personalities, their own back story, likes & dislikes… making you feel invested in them and their lives.
+Play at your own pace! Do only the quests/missions you choose, and feel free to ignore the rest. The only time crunch is when you accept missions, then there is usually a time limit to complete certain tasks. But beyond that, enjoy the relaxing pace of the countryside. If I am not mistaken, the main story arc has some sort of conclusion after 2-3 game years, but the game itself is endless and you can keep playing infinitely (farming, crafting, collecting and building relationships…)!
+Play in your own way. Whether your focus is on farming, decorating, creating produce, fishing, mining… you can earn a living in so many ways. There are also plenty of mystery in the town to spend your days trying to uncover the secrets. This game is never boring. The only problem is that I cannot stop playing.
+Affordable. The game is $14.99 at FULL PRICE and has so much content built into it it’s crazy. The developer also provides very regular and amazing updates. He listens to the community and pays attention to what is being said about his game, then improves it FOR FREE. I mean, it is totally worth it just donating $15 to such a talented & nice developer!