Available on: PC (Steam, GoG, Humble Store)
Release Date: February 26th 2016
Genre: Farming Simulation, RPG
A few weeks ago I posted about Stardew Valley and how excited I was for it, and now the game has been out for a little over 36 hours as of writing. In that time I’ve put 13 hours into the game, which is an early indication for how much I’m enjoying it. Here’s my review of the early parts of the game.
Stardew Valley sees a welcome return to the farming simulator/RPG hybrid gameplay dominated by Harvest Moon over the past twenty years or more, and shares a lot of similarities with that franchise as well as forging its own path in the genre. The core story will be a familiar one to fans – your Grandfather leaves you a farm in his will, and years later you decide to take it over and transform it from a dilapidated pile of overgrowth and rubble into a thriving money making venture. Along the way you’ll meet the local Pelican Town community and attend various events and play through various randomly generated scenarios, and follow various sub-plots crucial to the over-arching story. There is absolutely loads to do in this game taking all that into account, as forming and maintaining relationships, progressing through the story and maintaining the day-to-day running of your farm allows for a varied and enjoyable experience each time you play.
Each year spent on your farm is divided into four seasons, which again is something Harvest Moon fans will be accustomed to. You’ll be able to buy and cultivate a variety of crops, flowers and trees throughout the year, and time flows well enough in-game to ensure you generally get everything you need to get done with time to spare for other activities like fishing or exploring a nearby abandoned mine for important minerals and fighting monsters.
These minerals generally get put towards either upgrading your tools of the trade or buying/improving new buildings for your farm, including chicken coops, barns and add-ons for your own home. One of the key aspects of Stardew Valley that separates it from Harvest Moon is that your farm is entirely customisable save for the starting point of your home – genre fans will no doubt be used to having existing plots of land already laid out for them, but in this game you can put things pretty much where you please, and buy and move furniture for your home which only adds to the experience. There are a ton of little things you can craft too, from fences and pathways to furnaces and scarecrows, all of which gradually open up as you level up, which is where the RPG aspect of Stardew Valley shines. These stats are divided into five categories – farming, mining, combat, fishing and foraging. Each time you level one of these up you unlock new items to craft or recipes to make, which makes the overall progression of the game feel like you’re accomplishing something as you play, as having everything available from the beginning would definitely lower the replay value of the game.
The games’ faults are thankfully minor, and in the two days since release developer ConcernedApe has put out two patches to correct minor issues. The only two I have is sometimes debris appears right on the spot where my character spawns after moving from one map to another, meaning I get stuck. The game is only saved once you sleep at the end of a day, so when my character gets stuck I have to restart the game losing a whole days progress in the process. The other gripe I have is with the movement speed of my character. He is incredibly slow even when running, particularly diagonally for some reason, and if I have to make to a shop on the other side of town before it closes at 4pm if it’s anything past about 1:30 I won’t bother as chances are I won’t make it in time.
Finally the inclusion of co-op, a key factor in my initial interest of the game, isn’t available yet. Apparently ConcernedApe wanted to release Stardew Valley later than planned with co-op included, but pressure from his publisher meant he had to release it when he did and now co-op will come at a later date via a free update. There is no news on when this will be though, fans are speculating anything between a few weeks to a year or more.
With that said Stardew Valley is a fantastic game and very affordable at $15/£11 on Steam, GoG and the Humble Store. For the price you’ll get hours upon hours of fun and with the eventual multiplayer inclusion it’ll only get better. Definitely buy this game if you’re a fan of the genre.
So much to do, from farming and fishing to fighting monsters
Almost total customisation of your farm and home
Very good price at $15/£11
A few minor bugs still need addressing
Character is incredibly slow moving
No co-op on release