Developer: Concerned Ape
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PS4, IOS, Android
Genre: Simulation / Roleplaying / Farming Simulator
Back on the Gamecube I picked up my first and only Harvest Moon title. A Wonderful Life. I fell in love with the stress free world of farming with the lovely sound track and addictive exploration of the town and interaction with the villagers. I’d since longed for a remaster of that game to crop up on either last generation or this generation consoles. There have been additional Harvest Moon titles since then, but none of them have had the shine of A Wonderful Life. So it was certainly music to my ears to hear that a game that took inspiration from the series was in development for PC and consoles of this generation… Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley is rather impressively developed by one person. Eric Barone. It was initially released for PC in February 2016 but has since then gone on to be ported to every platform seemingly in existence, and this is definitely a great thing as everyone should spend time and enjoy this relaxing farming experience.
You take on the role of … well yourself if you wish, you build your character and from there become disillusioned with the hustle and bustle of city life and want to drastically change your life. Sadly you receive news that your Grandfather passes away, but are gifted his farm to takeover. This is your chance to escape the city and move to Stardew Valley and restore your Grandfathers farm to its full glory. Or if you don’t want to, you don’t have to? You can seemingly live in Stardew Valley with income made from fishing or mining if you wish, but wheres the fun in that?
I’ve owned this wonderful game since it got a beautiful physical version for PS4 in 2017. It has since gone on to become my most played PS4 title, and that’s official from the PS4 stats that were released to PS4 players earlier in 2019. It should be noted that it was my most played PS4 game at that point in time anyway, I’ve since gone on to add another 40+ hours to my total playtime with a 4th farm I started this year. Simply put I love this game.
The progression system of unlocking items in different skill sets is incredibly rewarding. Choosing different paths of farming when hitting level 5 if you want to shift to livestock bonuses or crop growing bonuses mean you’ll always want to run more than one farm save to see how one is better than the other. Completing the community centre with all the items leaves a great sense of satisfaction.
The townsfolk are all there for you to interact with and build friendships with over the years and even love. You can marry certain townsfolk should you wish. You can save and buy house renovations to increase its size, you can upgrade barns for auto feeders. It sounds stressful with so many things to manage on the farm (especially when you get large crop fields and multiple livestock) but it’s not, it’s all so relaxing thanks to the wonderful soundtrack and charming visuals. Just wandering around the farm viewing the crop and overhearing the sounds of your livestock in the meadows you’ve specifically built up for them, it’s so relaxing and wonderful.
When dusk kicks in and your animals take shelter for the night in the barn, and your crops are all watered, you can enjoy a spot of night fishing or go be social at the bar in town where most of the town go to at night. It’s hard to put into words how chill and peaceful this game is.
I cannot recommend this game enough. Whether you were looking for a Harvest Moon fix or just fancy a first dip into a gentle farming / life simulator, Stardew Valley will hook you and not let you go easily.