Drawing inspiration from the Harvest Moon franchise Stardew Valley puts you at the centre of your own farming adventure. Using the well known as a foundation Stardew Valley takes the experience further than ever before with its own unique mechanics and superb game design which were refined throughout the games lengthy original development.
Starting your adventure in the countryside players inherent a vast plot of land from their grandfather in the area known as Stardew Valley. At this stage character creation is also completed with dozens of visual options for hairstyle, shirts and accessories along with a preference for cats and dogs which impacts on which animal will appear on the farm later in the game.
This plot of land though is by no means farming ready and starts covered with weeds, trees, boulders and other obstacles which slowly need to be cleared to reach prime farming capacity. While this is your ultimate goal, restoring the farm to its full potential the method for achieving this is entirely up to the player with the open ended gameplay design.
Almost serving as a double edged sword this design means you’ll be dozens if not hundreds of hours away from peak farming potential as the wealth of side activities is incredibly diverse. From the core functions of planting and raising crops to livestock management, fishing, crafting items, mineral extraction or social engagement with the townsfolk of Pelican Town. Your limiting factor in all of this though is the energy and time systems that require you to weigh up the pros and cons of all options and prioritising appropriately. While food can restore energy to a player’s character you are required to fall asleep by midnight in order to fully recover your energy each night.
A nice inclusion to Stardew Valley is the ability to drive the direction you want to take when creating your character through the selection of 5 different farm layouts. While new players will likely want to opt for the standard farm map that maximises open area for farming and livestock this feature allows for up to 5 completely different playthroughs. The other 4 focus on foraging, mining, fishing and combat respectively with some offering unique experiences or bonuses not otherwise available.
This is further reinforced through the skills system of Stardew Valley which rewards experience when you complete actions associated to that skill. For example farming is improved by successfully growing crops while mining experience is tied to breaking down ore. Each skill offers 10 levels of progress which slowly unlock new crafting recipes and includes a speciality selection at level 5 and 10 for additional benefits.
Regardless which map and playstyle you’ll opt for though management of your incoming revenue with reinvestment back into upgrading the farm or your tools to generate more money to continue the loop again. Alternatively players can focus on taking on quests and various tasks for additional money from the towns community. From specialising in animals or crops in the farming tree to craps or fish in the fishing tree there is plenty of room to focus on the mechanics that you favour.
The content depth of Stardew Valley doesn’t stop there though with a dozen bachelors and bachelorettes that offer potential marriage candidates alongside another two dozen odd town characters which provide quest and gift opportunities based on your friendship points with the character. Alternatively the 4 player co-operative mode allows you to connect with real players in addition to the expansive Pelican Town.
Stardew Valley has without a doubt achieved what it aimed to do by not only offering a Harvest Moon like experience but exceeding it.
- A Harvest Moon inspired title for Windows and other major platforms.
- Farm, marry, mine, fish and countless other activities to engage and specialise in.
- Level up your skills to improve your efficiency, learn new crafting recipes and become proficient.
- Enjoy several hours of beautiful game soundtrack as you explore Stardew Valley and Pelican Town.
- Customise your character from dozens of appearance options and create your dream farming cottage.
- Buy Stardew Valley (GOG)
- Buy Stardew Valley (Humble Store)
- Buy Stardew Valley (iOS)
- Buy Stardew Valley (Android)
- Buy Stardew Valley (Microsoft Store)
- Buy Stardew Valley (Nintendo Store)
- Buy Stardew Valley (PlayStation Store)
Review Platform: PC