“It is certainly one of the best farming sims you could ever hope to play.”
In a world where farming games have frequently been met with mixed responses by gamers, one title stands out above all the rest. Some may not agree with that statement in practice, but one thing is for sure, Stardew Valley has come a long way. From humble indie beginnings, the game has grown to be wildly popular among gamers. Heavily reminiscent of the Harvest Moon games of days gone by, Stardew Valley is a top down farming game with a semi-old-school artistic style and buckets full of charm.
Now, Stardew Valley has entered into a new chapter of its story. Landing for the first time on ever on consoles, expectations are high among fans and anticipation excites those who are yet to play the fan favourite title. As with any such transition from PC to console however, one question will be on gamers’ minds; does it hold up? I was more than happy to return to the delightful village of Stardew Valley and once again share greetings with its inhabitants to find out.
For those who haven’t yet enjoyed the Stardew Valley experience, imagine if you will a farm management simulation but also so much more. Whilst this is the premise of the title, it expands its borders far beyond that realm, with its strong story; a friendly, interactive backing cast; an open, living world; seasonal systems and events; and a few fantastical elements in the mix to name but a few. It is a light but vast and engrossing experience; much more so than your average stint on Farmville or the like. For PC gamers, it has been an example of good, clean and casual fun for some time now. This experience, bar a few minor gripes, is now available to console gamers too.
The first thing that I noticed upon loading up the game was a cursor on my screen. Generally speaking, in my previous experience, seeing this in a console game does not bode well. Whilst the feature did not turn out to be game breaking or ruinous of the overall experience, it stuck with me as a gripe. Stardew Valley is perfectly modelled to suit something like a Minecraft-style console setup to cycle through your tools and browse through any necessary menus. Whilst that game’s transition was smooth and agreeable, Stardew Valley appears to be a much straighter port in this department. The system works fine, but I can’t go as far as to say it is ideal.
Once you get into the game itself however, the experience is largely identical to that of the game on PC. The story begins with your inheritance of your Grandfather’s old farmstead, as you are greeted by the Mayor of Stardew Valley and the locals. Starting off with a messy plot of land and a few turnip seeds, it is up to you to turn your land into the thriving farm that you desire. Whilst this takes time and patience to achieve, particularly if you want to acquire livestock, the results are very gratifying when you do.
Working the farm is much like playing Minecraft, or something similar in premise. Using ever improving tools, you must clear resources you do not need, gather those which you do, prepare the land for cultivation and continue to support your crop until it is finally ready. From here, you can sell what you grow or use it yourself, whichever suits your needs. As you play for longer, you will begin to recognise the best practices and timings for growing certain crops and will be able to perfect your outputs. Even in the early game however, with no experience at all, Stardew Valley is easy to get on with and teaches you well. Very quickly, you will find yourself becoming fully immersed in the experience.
As well as your daily work on the farm itself, you will need to head into town to gather the materials you need and become a part of the local community. This experience reminded me of games like Animal Crossing, and the locals are just as delightful in this game as they were in that one. As time progresses in the game, so too do the seasons. This doesn’t just affect what you can grow either. Community events pop up all the time in the quaint little village, and it is always worth keeping up with what is going on about the place. As a whole, being a part of this world is delightfully pleasant. Whilst other games might make such interactions a necessity, Stardew Valley makes them a pleasure to be a part of.
The story, which takes place on your farm, in the village and around the outskirts as well, sits somewhere between the realms of reality and fantasy. Whilst some people need help with simple problems like finding items or delivering messages, others such as the local wizard have different quests up their sleeves. This side of the game too is a delight. You can play at any pace you wish, focusing your time on either the story or your farm, or both at once if you prefer. The story is light, easy to follow, but equally full of mystery. This makes is engaging and exciting to follow, and accessible to players of any age, style, skill level or experience.
Perhaps the biggest disappointments of Stardew Valley however are the realms it has not yet reached. Multiplayer, both local online, is a feature that has been in the works for some time, and the game is crying out for it, but still it is not quite here yet. Equally, the game is perfectly suited to the mobile platform, but as yet it has not reached this point. Perhaps the console transition it the first move towards this, in which case the future seems bright indeed.
Stardew Valley is a very good video game. That may seem vague, but it is the fairest definition of the game in its simplest form. It is certainly one of the best farming sims you could ever hope to play. The style, story, and experience which the game offers are, as mentioned, a delight. The console transition has been acceptable, with all features appearing to hold up but maybe not adapted in the most perfect of ways. In any case, for those console gamers who have been waiting for this version of Stardew Valley to release, I cannot recommend the game enough. The pros certainly outweigh the cons, so don’t waste another minute. Your farm awaits!