With the recent announcement that Stardew Valley would be coming to retail stores soon I thought it would be good to revisit this lovable farming sim and write a review for those who have yet to play this surprisingly in depth game.

Stardew Valley has been available for PC for over a year now and not to long ago came to Xbox One and PS4 through digital download. Its recently been announced that a retail version will be released allowing people to buy the game across the counter in disc form.

I have been playing Stardew Valley on my Xbox One since it released on consoles and I’ve loved every minute of it. The game has so much character and so much to do its a testament to the indie developer behind it.

Let’s break it down.

Graphics:

Stardew Valley is absolutely gorgeous, period. It’s made in a 32 bit art style that fits the indie hit like a well tailored suit. The sprites and characters look great and while there may be other less polished indie games out there where you can’t tell the difference between a horse and a cow Stardew valley certainly does not fit into that category.

What really stands out is Stardew Valley itself. The forest is a gorgeous and vibrant green that looks downright homely in the daytime yet eerily creepy in the night just because of a slight shift in color and tone. The same goes for each of the different areas in Stardew Valley from the town itself to the dark dungeon filled with mythical monsters.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the changing of the seasons where every part of the Stardew Valley undergoes a makeover with each season. The way your farm and the town looks when the year closes onto halloween or christmas is well worth the wait.

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Gameplay:

Stardew Valley is both beautifully simple and deceptively complex at the same time. Stardew Valley has been sold by a few outlets as a farming sim but it is so much more than that. Yes you can build your farm, plant seeds, water crops and sell those crops then rinse and repeat and that would be a farming sim but that’s just scratching the surface.

Stardew Valley lets you live a different life, a simpler yet more rewarding life in some ways. Each day in Stardew Valley takes around 10 to 20 real minutes, and several of them are occupied by the slow business of starting a farm from scratch. Having to plant the right seeds, water your crops, and wait for the harvest before making any real money means there’s not a lot to do right away.  But Stardew Valley isn’t simple. It’s relaxed, sure, and lets you grow at your own pace, but it’s a rich world once you get past the slow first season.

Building your capital can be difficult at first but its well worth the wait. Going from selling a few harvested crops for 100s of dollars to reinvesting that back into the farm so you can finally afford a chicken coop so you can sell eggs then buying a barn for cows to get milk and so on. Even then there’s further depth to gameplay as why sell milk when you can harvest a few resources for a cheese maker or why sell eggs when you can turn those eggs into mayonnaise. Soon enough your farm is making high level items from the basic raw materials your producing.

That’s how the farming and money making side of the game work but then you have the rest of Stardew Valley to explore. The town itself is like its own social game where you need to interact with townspeople who will ask for favors which in turn increase your relationships with them. While the relationship building is pretty straight forward focusing on gift giving to increase your status it is a very nice addition to the game.

Then on top of that we have the Valley mine. This is an area where monsters lurk which you can enter and fight enemies to gain some much wanted loot. The game play here is a simple hack and slash mechanic which is not hard to master but is still very rewarding. The mine offers some nice secrets and collectibles to be gained along with plenty of raw materials to upgrade your farm with.

While the game has some incredible depth to make your millions and add complexity to your farm I cant help but notice once your at the end game it becomes rather tedious. I managed to reach the bottom of the mine and unlock a new more difficult mine towards the end of my first year but by then a lot of my farm was already upgraded to where I wanted it.

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Without the desire for the raw materials I didn’t see a point in the hack and slash gameplay. The same goes for certain tasks in the town centre. The town centre gives you special bonuses for completing a set of tasks but once my farm was to a point where I could make almost a million a day I didn’t need to spend my precious time panning for gold in the stream when I had more than enough to buy it from the blacksmith.

This may be a personnel issue as i’m not what you would call a completionist, it doesn’t bother me not to get 100% in every game but I do like to have something to bring me back. I would have enjoyed a few random occurrences or maybe a goal to reach to do with my farm build itself. Saying that when I hit those points there are different farm maps you can restart a new game on adding a certain air of replayability which I found very fun.

Story:

Stardew Valley is a game where you primarily make up your own story but there are a few things that will be the same for us all. The game starts off with you working as just another mindless drone for the gigantic Joja corporation.

You receive a letter for your late grandfather who has left you his old farm that has fell into disrepair and urges you to take up the life you were meant to have and become a farmer. That’s it really but again as with most of this game its surprisingly deep.

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The town and its people all play apart in your own story with there being certain scripted cutscenes for when you reach a certain amount of reputation with them even with some having a romantic twist to them. Plus there is always the blight of the Joja corporation trying to muscle in on the town as they have conveniently put a supermarket up just on the outskirts.

Damn Joja Corp, coming over here stealing our profits. Remember buy local.

Overall:

Stardew Valley is a game with incredible personality and tremendous amounts of depth its no wonder why so many including myself have fallen in love with the go easy farming life. In a world of AAA blockbusters that cost £50 i’m so glad there are still indie hits that can come in and knock those games right of the shelf at a fraction of the price.  This would be a perfect game to me if there was just a little more to do in the end game but considering its took me a good 60 hours worth of gameplay to get there i’m sold already.

9.9/10

Bloody Amazing!

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