Remember Farmville? I certainly do. Facebook started with these social farming simulators where crops needed to be tilled by a certain time or date, or you had to rely on your friends to give you a hand. I hated it! My crops always died or got weeds – I was much too busy for Farmville; I quit after two weeks.
When the hubs suggested we try Stardew Valley, I balked, “Isn’t that like Farmville? I hate Farmville.” But, I tried it, and it grew on me to the extent I clocked in over 40 hours into it.
There isn’t much to the game really: you got tired of the office grind, chained to a desk and working for “the man”. Your Grandpa left you his homestead in his will, and there arrives your ticket to freedom. You quit your job, and move to the old farm to till the land and be one with nature. It’s a lot of hard work, but fulfilling, and soon you are planting crops, raising egg-laying hens and dairy cows. There are mines on the outskirts of town where you can mine for ore (and convert in to garden tools). You are walking distance from Pelican Town, a small seaside hamlet, where you meet and make friends with the folk, and contribute to some of their social activities. There is an old run-down community centre that is cursed; to break its spell, it needs your help in collecting items from your adventures. Along with farming and mining, fishing and trapping are very much another access point to food and leisure. Time and the four seasons also play into the game; one must always be mindful of what time it is, and only certain crops can be grown during certain seasons. The whole thing is cyclical and I don’t think this game ends until you end it.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed my time in Stardew Valley. I often feel frustrated having to micromanage characters, but it wasn’t too bad here. I played the game in co-op with my husband and we took turns looking after certain tasks, but also relied on each other for what we preferred to do. He seemed to prefer the mining (I didn’t care for it), and I liked to fish, which took some time getting the swing of. When it was all said, mostly after my chores were done on the farm, I fished. The days can become routine. If you like things to change in your game every single day, Stardew Valley isn’t that kind of game.
There was definitely a sub-plot where your goal is to find a partner and get married. The hubs and I lived on the same farm in separate houses like we were siblings. in my time in Stardew Valley, I never managed to get a partner, and that didn’t bother me and didn’t seem to matter in gameplay. The social aspect of the game was also somewhat important. You are to befriend people by talking to them or giving them items they like. I tried to give gifts and befriend people, but I didn’t really find a benefit from the interactions (I might have missed something…).
Overall, I found Stardew Valley is what you make it. Like in reality, you carve out a life and branch out. In the end, it’s up to you how you want things to play out. As for me, the game was a delicious slice.
Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone