I’ve been playing Stardew Valley a lot lately, on the Nintendo Switch I bought recently because I was bored. I’m a bit surprised I like it so much, games similar like, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing I really don’t like. Animal Crossing especially, to be honest, I don’t have enough experience with the Harvest Moon series to have an opinion either way, and I’ve played enough Animal Crossing New Leaf to know I don’t like that series.
Stardew Valley starts with your grandpa dying and leaving you a letter, telling you to open it when you become crushed by the burden of modern life. Then one day while working in an office you open it and find out he’s left you a farm and you go and live their. It’s then up to you to decide what to do. You don’t have to do any farming, you can go fishing, foraging and even fight enemies in a cave north of the town. All this is on your own terms, you’re not scammed out of money but some thieving animal upon moving in, so you’re not forever in debt. Animal Crossing’s game hook is terrible in my opinion. You have to go out and earn money to pay off your debt, you do it because it feels like you need to. In Stardew Valley you can do as you please and you do whatever because you want to, not because you have to.
I’ve just about started my 2nd year on… winkle farm and it’s been going well. I’ve upgraded my house and have a few farm buildings as well some unique scarecrows and animals, my lifetime earnings add up to 91,127 gold. It’s all very relaxing, farming, fishing and exploring accompanied by nice music makes it all so easy to lose yourself in. Oddly similar to Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, although with a much brighter and happier setting. If you get sick of being relaxed and happy you can always go to the cave and fight monsters. The deeper you go the harder the monsters become to defeat, but the better loot is further down so you might as well.
It turns out I’m better at following a routine in a virtual life then I am in real life. In Stardew Valley a typical day for me is as follows. Wake up and water crops, go to the beach where I have crab pots set up and see what they’ve caught. Then I do a spot of fishing and by then it’s time to sleep. Of course, not every day is the same, you can get quests from the notice board in town. These usually involve delivering a certain item to someone for gold or finding something someone has lost. The routine changes from time to time, if I don’t fancy fishing I go to the monster cave or talk to the townsfolk which I should probably do more as no one really likes me.
It’s this freedom that keeps me coming back, even though the activities sound mundane there weirdly not. My only worry is that this will get repetitive, so hopefully there’s a lot more I need to discover. The one obvious thing is the people, I need to give out more gifts and explore these people as you can get married in this game. A fact I knew going in, which I now notice is obvious considering in the screenshot above I have a 1 heart relationship with 4 girls and an old man. There are still 3 places on the map with questions marks that I need to explore and I’m not even sure how I get to them. So there are still new things for me to find and experience which is good because I’m not done with Stardew Valley yet.