A Beautiful journey into the countryside idyll.
Stardew Valley opens with your character working a dead end job for the mega conglomerate Jojo Corp. Tired of the city rat race your character turns to an envelope gifted by your grandfather on his deathbed. Opening the letter you learn that your grandfather has left you his farm in the quaint Pelican Town in the eponymous Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley is a game that never stood out to me as a game I wanted to play when it first came out; farming simulators are not my cup of tea, or so I thought.
I have played the game for several hours, picking it up on a commute or in a lunch break, and the game fits this style of gameplay perfectly. It has beautiful pixel graphics and a charming soundtrack, two things that I loved about publisher Chucklefish’s own game Starbound. Stardew Valley invites you to dip your toe into the country bumpkin lifestyle, growing crops, farming animals and making friends with the residents of the small town trying to cope with the difficulties of village life in a world increasingly based around city economies.
The stress of actual farming (crops unexpectedly failing, trying to find a buyer for your produce, business management) is stripped away leaving a zen plant, wait and explore dynamic, which is peaceful relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable. It is the perfect game to experience the escape to the country dream through.
The game has a variety of farm maps to pick from, although you only choose once per save file, in the character creation screen, and you can customise the layout and interior of your farm buildings, if you choose to have any. You can grow crops or farm animals, you can process the products these produce into more valuable artisan goods, you can explore and fight monsters in mines, or you can go around the town making friends with the NPCs and start a family with children.
The game has a tight knit play-cycle, with 1 hour on the in-game clock equating to roughly 1 minute real-time, meaning each in game day is 15-18 minutes long in real-time depending on when you send your character to sleep. This short day cycle fits a mobile game perfectly, it is designed for you to be able to spend 20 minutes enjoying when you have a moment, and it is a genuinely relaxing 20 minutes.
The short play-cycle does lead to the old ‘I will do just one more thing and stop playing – oh dear how did I keep playing for another hour?’ situation, but as this is not a game designed to get you addicted in the manner of many mobile games, and you incur no penalty for just ending playtime for a while, there are no daily rewards or in-app purchase systems to dig into your brain. I have an addictive personality when it comes to those kinds of games and it was a genuinely stress relieving experience to realise that I can come away from the game and miss no limited events or daily bonuses if I forget to play one day. I can truly play at my leisure.
If you have the money to spare and even a passing interest in what this game has to offer I fully recommend purchasing it. I was uncertain about it prior to purchase, and it has turned into one of the most enjoyable games own, a window into a beautiful pixel world, and a perfect break from the stress of city life.