Since I was a kid I have played video games. From learning to play them on my mum’s Commodore 64 to spending all my free time playing my Mega Drive or Saturn or the dear little Dreamcast.
I have to admit I might not have played any of the biggest games of the decade, I barely have the money to afford games most of the year, but the ones I do pick up tend to be ones that I fall in love with and none as much as that little Indie farming game that took the world by storm and won the hearts of millions.
That being Stardew Valley.
It possibly doesn’t come as a surprise that this game is probably my favourite and for anyone who has played it whether you liked it or not you can see the appeal it would have.
If you haven’t played it the game is super simple. You inherit a farm from your grandfather as a child but he makes you promise not to open the letter telling you of said farm until you are older and had enough with life. That day comes and you make your big move to Stardew Valley where you become the new farmer.
That being said you don’t have to be a farmer.
With its many updates through the years you went from having one standard farm to a few different ones that focus on the different aspects of the game from fishing to combat. There are four seasons in the game each with 28 days, all four seasons are home to new crops, new events and even the characters in the Valley have their own unique birthdays. Your luck changes from day to day, weather also changes each day and it is up to you what it is you wish to do whether it be tend to your crops, go out collecting resources, go around talking to other characters or running the quests that are given or even going into the mines not only to gather minerals but to fight all different kinds of monsters that live therein.
Each villager can be befriend up to 10 points giving you unique dialogue, unique cut scenes and even presents in the mail. Befriending them opens up the world you live in to a greater extent including learning that there is currently a war going on that one of the villagers has been part of but it also gives you a look at very normal things that people don’t like to talk about like how Shane is a alcoholic who lost everything and at some points even considers suicide as a option in his life that you stop him from doing.
Certain villagers can even be married, for them you stop at a 8 heart rating and need to then romance them to gain up to 14 hearts after marriage. You can even get kids after upgrading your house and getting married.
Not to mention you can pick either having a cat or dog who can be your lone companion on those busy days on your farm.
You can be as good or as bad as you want to be with the main story giving you the path to either help the community center or for some reason line the pockets of the evil organisation Joja which is the very company you escaped from in the first place. Both options open up new areas as well as things to make your life easier but also change the landscape of the town quite the bit.
Talking about being good or bad you can even romance as many people as you want BUT THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES!
It doesn’t just give you the option to do things but changes the way people act around you if you do something to upset them including now apparently new dialogue with villagers that you end up divorcing.
From game play as varied as just a bog standard farming game to basically dungeon crawling experiences and a wide range of characters to get to know with unique stories as well as a soft ending at Year Three there isn’t just hundreds of hours of enjoyment there but hundred of play through’s just waiting for you.
Why I love it more then any other game I’ve really played in the last decade is that it is super chill I guess.
If I’m having a bad day I know I can just log into Stardew and put a few hours into creating something, killing a few slimes or romancing the heck out of someone to take my mind off of it. I can also very easily sit and watch just about anything I want to whilst idly going through my daily tasks. Whenever a streamer I like starts playing I instantly get the itch to do so myself and that joy of playing never goes away.
It is so bright and colourful too. The soundtrack is amazing and I love just living my life through the four different seasons.
Everything about the game puts you in the best of moods but it doesn’t hold back when it wants to make a dramatic punch to the gut.
I mentioned above about Shane and his story, still to this day the blog I wrote about why I wanted Shane as a marriage candidate before he was one is one of my most popular blogs, but he isn’t the only one.
All the characters whether marriage candidates or not have a story to tell. In my latest play through I really took the time to get to know just about everyone and it was the saddest yet warmest thing I’ve ever done.
Seeing George go from a grumpy old man to constantly asking me if I’m too cold and being happy I spend time with him or Linus telling you why he is happy being a hermit just made me smile. I always feel guilty the closer I get to Emily as unfortunately it means that Clint never has a chance with the woman he is in love with and I finally got to her fashion show cut scene the other day which broke my heart when Clint walks in and leaves heart broken.
Even some of the weirder stuff just makes me happy like the trippy cut scene with Emily or getting to play a D’n’D game with Sebastian and even visiting the band in their first gig, seeing Leah’s big art expo or going to Elliot’s book reading just give the game such a happy up beat feeling.
Then there are small stories that don’t always get the biggest time but are there like Lewis and Marnie’s secret relationship or the friendship between the guy from the Adventurer’s guild and the Wizard.
With every update there are new things to grow, new things to see and even new events that pop up.
Every event is unique and fun. Some have their own unique games like the egg hunt or the fishing game in the winter event and some have events more aimed at relationship building like the Flower Dance where you need a high relationship just to be able to dance with someone or picking the right thing to be put into the pot luck.
My favourite two events are the Midnight Jelly event which is absolutely breath taking even after seeing it for the hundredth time as well as the newer night time market they have.
Thing is Stardew Valley has a little bit of everything for everyone and the beauty of the game is everyone can play it the way they want to.
Since it started it has grown so much with no word of a end to updates. In fact in November one of the biggest updates so far came out and it has added so much to the game that playing it for what feels like the millionth new farm feels like playing a new game.
Even without the updates you get to live your life as a farmer at your own pace to your own terms. You can do it by yourself or you can do it with your friends on Co-op. There are also a million different mods for the game (one of the best Mod videos I’ve seen highlight some of the best and weirdest was made this year by SpaceHamster so go watch that) that once again will add hundreds if not thousands more hours of game play to it for you if you ever could be bored of the vanilla version of the game.
Its a good game to chill with, a good game to focus you if you are having a bad day and you can play it on literally everything now with the game being out on pretty much every device.
Stardew Valley is by no way underrated, it gets the love and attention it so very much deserves. There is a good reason for that and why it continues to be one of my all time favourite games let alone game of this entire decade.