Stardew Valley came out of fucking nowhere landing on Steam and now everyone and their grandmother are playing this quirky little title. I have been hounded, bothered and generally “encouraged” to play this game by my sibling who at this point has accrued millions of gold in his playthrough through sheer rage. The game is charmingly beautiful with what I like to call Hi-Def-bit graphics. What I mean is that the game is probably designed as a 16 bit game but it looks so much cleaner,much more breath-taking that I cannot in good conscience allow myself to call it a 16 bit game. It would, honestly, do the game injustice.

Just take a look at that featured image above. That art is so clean, crisp, refreshing… uh… beautiful, charming… I could go on and on here. I like it when a game comes out in the sort of 16 bit “genre” but goes ones step further to make the art pop and stand out from the rest of the 16-bit garbage dump coming out these days.

 

When you start the game you get a small intro sequence animation to the main screen overlooking a valley with what I can only describe as purple flying dinosaurs going across the screen. Before I played the game I saw a few screenshots and my brother playing and considered Stardew Valley as an isometric version of Minecraft. Effectively Terraria without the platforming and more emphasis on farming.

The game starts off with a “cinematic” opening in which your grandfather, who seems to be bedridden, hands you a letter quickly followed by a warning as to not open it yet. You quickly cut to 20 years later to where you are in a cubicle working for a company called Joja. Now I have no idea how they run the company or what it even does, as there is no mention in the text but there are “motivational” posters on the wall. As the camera pans down the line of cubicle upon cubicle you get a glimpse of some of these posters.

 

Stardew Valley - Joja offices with motivational posters

I feel really motivated now. Thanks Joja you’re the best.

 

Gee thanks Joja I really feel like a part of the family right now. A dysfunctional, manipulative and generally mean family, but a family nonetheless. The basic gist of the opening sequence is that you are sick of working in a cubicle for a company that is almost as horrifying as the Manson family. Almost. You need to get out so you decide to read the letter your grandfather gave you in which he basically tells you he felt the same thing when he was younger and tells you to go live on the Bloom farm in Stardew Valley. Bloom is the name I gave the farm so you can put anything you want there. I was going to go with T-Rex farm but thought “Bloom” was more puntastic and thematically suitable.

You can pick which type of animal you prefer and clearly I picked dog because who the fuck cares about cats. I gave my character green hair, pants and shirt but also gave him a Yugioh hairstyle because you’re not the main character in a story unless you have ridiculous, random coloured hair. I initially thought that your farm was called Stardew Valley because it sounds so majestic but as it turns out the whole area is Stardew Valley which is awesome as I love the fact you can call the farm whatever you want.

Stardew Valley - Character creation

You might say he’s In Bloom and searching for his own personal Nirvana…cough

 

When I began actually farming and moving around I found the game to be incredibly similar to Minecraft. I’d imagine it’s probably more like Terraria but as i have not played it my instant reaction is “I remember doing something like this in Minecraft”! However this is where the comparison stops because the game is much more than that. You can go around the town and talk to people to get to know them better and doing so gives you the ability to interact with them when there are festivities on in town. I kept focusing on my farming trying to get big cash PRIZEEESS, that basically everyone turned me down when I asked them to dance with me at the Flower Dance Festival. Even in video games I can’t get someone to dance with me. It cuts deep guys… 

My lack of social skills aside there are around 30 people in this fucking town so good luck trying to get them all to like you. If you do become good friends with any of them then not only will they dance with you, you can also go into the locked part of their house. Not skeevey at all. Perfectly normal if you ask me! Honestly this is the least creepy thing in the game. Let’s just say that this game reminds me of “A Town Called Eureka” and is a very suitable comparison cause this is not the least nor the last creepy/weird thing to happen.

 

Hank the main character trying to enter into someone's bedroom in Stardew Valley

Uhhhhhhhhhh what?

 

However I had no time for this wanky social bullshit because I was too busy trying to get crows off my fucking crops. GOD! I hate those bloody crows! Get off my parsnips you fucking emo rats! The game has seasons and each season is 28 days long so once a full cycle happens a new year starts. Crops you plant in Spring will die on the first day of Summer if they haven’t matured enough to be harvested and so on. There are a few crops that can be harvested in two different season such as corn which can be planted in both Summer and Fall. You can also go around the town and neighboring mountains to forage for wild veggies like leek or horseradish. In summer these wild veggies are replaced with wild fruit such as grape but not only that the entire town changes according to season. The foliage has more colour, the town changes their decor accordingly as well with more flowers and colours added to the different buildings.

As you grow your farm, forage for food or try to clear your farm of rock, you level up specific skills. The main ones are farming, foraging, mining, fishing and combat. I did fuck all fishing because the mechanic is bollocks. I don’t care if I have to keep the marker going with the fish, your mechanic is bad and you should feel bad. No, I’m definitely not angry because I completely suck at this. Not at all. You should be able to tell from the fact that I didn’t mention combat, how much I focused on it in my playthrough. I did do some adventuring in the mines but only because I wanted to cover it for the review. I was completely engrossed in the farming that I became some sort of social pariah but hey I was a fucking rich pariah.

 

Stardew Valley - Flower Dance Festival

Whatever Abigail I didn’t want to dance with you either….sniff

 

The combat mechanic is very simple in that you point Hank’s POV to where the enemy is and click to swing your sword. Enemies range from slimes and bugs to a crab-like creature whose shell mimics the rocks in the mine. That fucker is annoying forcing you to time your swings to make sure you land a hit while he’s up because otherwise you do 0 damage, hitting the shell.

The more you use a skill the better it gets much like in Skyrim. If you keep farming like I did in this then you will hit level 5 and be given the choice to specialise in a specific school of farming. You get a choice between a tiller or animal farmer. If you pick tiller your crop produce will be worth more such as a 10% higher price and the other is the same except it’s for animals instead. I picked tiller because raising animals is massively annoying whereas the only thing I need for crops is seeds, fertiliser and a watering can. Animals are a chore and a waste of time and energy, for me personally, but if you like the idea of raising cows and chickens then by all means go for it.

 

Stardew Valley - Yogi the Dog

The game lets you adopt a dog, Instant 10/10 for me. Don’t bother reading the rest just know it’s a 10.

 

There are a whole load of other things you can do in Stardew Valley that I can’t actually cover them all here because this review is long enough as it is. There are alien-like creatures in the abandoned, derelict community center. If you bring them bundles of specific produce and consumables they give you extra bonuses and give you 30 bags of seasonal seeds. I recommend you do this as it’s well worth it. There is also a wizard in this game who helps you with these aliens and teaches you how to read their language.

The game also has a homeless man who often makes remarks about people who throw rocks at his tent at night and all he can do is wait it out. I caught him eating food out of the garbage at night one time. The rest of the town treat him like shit as if he had chronic mongitis. So we went from just farming to homeless people, aliens and also WIZARDS! All this game is missing is Jesus!

 

Stardew Valley - Grandpa Bloom note

So I guess this game does have Jesus and his name is Grandpa. This is my second playthrough which is why it says James not Hank at the beginning of the letter.

 

The Captain’s Verdict 10/10

You get a dog named Yogi! Obviously it’s a fucking 10.