16-bit farming has never been so fun!
Stardew Valley came out at a time when the market was already overloaded with farming sim games. It’s also oftentimes compared to pioneering games in the genre such as Harvest Moon (the classic farming game from the SNES era). However, ConcernedApe Barone (the game’s sole developer) added some “small” twists to the formula that resulted in a big hit.
Some of these added tropes and mechanics that make Stardew Valley stand out from its peers may seem unorthodox to a great majority of purists. In fact, some of these additions would have been deemed preposterous if they were included in other similar titles but, for various reasons (which we’ll be disclosing throughout this review), Stardew Valley gets a pass.
The grandfather's letter is the beginning of it all, and it is also a point of the game that hits the player's heart. Under the soothing and profound music, the grandfather left the best gift he could give to the protagonist—a leisurely and arbitrary life.
The first element of the sense of substitution is resonance. As a member of all living beings, we are inevitably changed by society. Have your childhood dreams compromised? Are you struggling to become an elite in the eyes of others?
The protagonist is the same as us, or rather, we are the same as the protagonist.
And the protagonist has Stardew Valley, we have <Stardew Valley>
Keeping It Simple
Stardew Valley’s simplicity is not only reflected in its art style (which is enticing in its own right) but also in its very premise. You won’t find a grand “save the world” narrative here. You’re just a deceased farmer’s grandson (or granddaughter) who’s determined to take care of the family farm and do what it takes to save it from total ruin.
From the get-go, this title is not that different from Harvest Moon or similar titles. As with Harvest Moon, you get to mingle with people from the nearby town (Pelican Town), with a chance of “getting hitched” with any of the townsfolk marked as “single” (and I mean any quite literally!) You likewise have to deal with the same weather and day/night cycles, both of which will also affect how you approach your farming duties.
Farming here involves a lot of micromanagement and keeping track of your energy, which is your allowance for using tools or moving things around. You’d have to make sure to water your crops constantly and pet your cattle in order to ensure better yield, but you also have to seek ways to restore your energy by sleeping or eating properly.
Down the road, you’ll get ahold of various tools that will aid in simplifying your farming sessions so that you can focus more on adventuring or tending to other family needs.
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Having said that, you’d be surprised to learn that this game also has combat mechanics. Not only would you be capable of engaging in offense, but you can also indulge in dungeon crawling and battling otherworldly monsters, both in the overworld and in underground caves. The monsters you encounter may not seem uncommon in games like Dragon Quest or Secret of Mana, but they’re definitely an oddity here.
These features would transform this game into something much bigger than a mere farming simulator. It may be said that Stardew Valley combines two genres into one, each preserving its own properties and characteristics: Farming simulator and action role-playing game.
The action RPG aspects here are, moreover, quite intricate. Aside from the ability to craft farming tools and utilities, you’ll additionally get to forge weapons and armor out of virtually any of the ingredients you find in the world, but especially in dungeons. You can enchant weapons with the use of prismatic shards (mostly found in the mines) and cinder shards (which you can obtain predominantly in the volcano dungeon), providing some intriguing fantasy elements to the mix.
The World is Vast!
Finally, we must talk about the “biomes” (a very “gamey” word as of late). This game has a huge number of areas to visit, including areas where you can farm (Wilderness Farm, Hilltop Farm, Forest Farm, etc.)
But farms are just small portions of landmass within the context of the much larger world. Here, you can traverse through mountains, deserts, forests, islands, and beaches, wherein you have access to rare materials to scavenge and exotic monsters to slash.
You can also visit mines, icy caves, and magma-filled volcanos. As you visit these “out-of-bounds” places, you’ll get the impression that you’re exponentially out of your comfort zone. What’s more, if you venture into these caves or mines during the night, you must keep track of the time, for you would pass out once the clock reads 2 a.m., lending more credence to the notion that you’re in a very uncomfortable place.
In the early game, you will get a fishing rod from the fisherman. With this fishing rod, you can go fishing in the river or the sea for a long time after finishing the farm work.
When you are lucky, you can catch precious fish such as sea cucumber, and there is a certain chance that a treasure chest will appear when fishing. Sometimes there are precious minerals like diamonds in treasure chests, which make fishing so addicting
All these aspects definitely give Stardew Valley a clear edge over other games in the genre and add some needed variety to the gameplay, a variety that is clearly lacking in most of its counterparts.
Stardew Valley is guaranteed not to disappoint. Its lighthearted and unpretentious nature, coupled with its addictive gameplay, makes this one of my favorite “indie” games of the last generation of gaming (which goes to show that graphics are not the be-all and end-all in this industry). I would undoubtedly recommend this blindfolded!
You can also share your thoughts about this amazing game in the comments section below!
love it soo much