I work a mundane 9-5 job like most people, I love gaming like a large majority of people as well and I love gaming because more than anything its an escape. When I step into a game the fate of the world can be on my shoulders or the rush of facing another real world player in PVP can get the adrenaline pumping, and we all know just how sweet a taste it is to kill a noob in your particular game(Destiny for me). Considering I can choose from saving a galaxy in Mass Effect or stopping World War 3 in Metal gear Solid I find myself asking the question “Why am I playing this farming game Stardew Valley”?
A few months ago I found myself bored out of my skull scrolling through the games installed on my Xbox and found I wasn’t interested in playing any of them so i turned to the store to see what was on offer. I skipped over the AAA titles as frankly Id gotten bored of those as well so when I came across a little gem called Stardew Valley I was intrigued. Being the geek I am I immediately went online to check out some reviews and gameplay vids to see what it was all about and almost every review gave a glowing recommendation, further more I found the game was created by just one bloke! I immediately bought it and awaited my download.
When my new game is downloaded I immediately boot it up, make my character and jump into gameplay and before long I was absolutely hooked! My character wakes up at 6AM every morning and waters crops, feeds chickens and check if the fishing traps I’ve set have caught anything good. What I realize very quickly is I’ve swapped a mundane job in my real like for a mundane job in my virtual one too…The thing is though I love it.
You see Stardew Valley has something very few games truly have these days and that is depth. The day to day running of my farm takes me from 6AM to maybe 12PM in the mid game where I’m working up the resources to make my farm a bit more self sustainable. When my mundane jobs are complete I wander into the town and have a chat with the local people who range from a moody bus driver to a mayor who may or may not be having an affair with the local animal and supplies merchant… Juicy gossip in the town.
If I have the coin I pop into the local bar for a quick brewski and play one of the arcade mini games to pass some time and then head to the beach in order to pick up some shells that have washed up, they should get me a few gold when I sell them. I head back to my cabin and go to sleep to rest for the next day of hard work on my farm.
Now if i’d have described that kind of game loop to my younger self I’d have pulled some sort of contorted face and yelled profanities while reaching for the latest Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Now that I’m an adult(well……I’m taller anyway) the serene escape of my farm along with the freedom the game gives me to just relax and explore this incredibly well thought out and charming world that’s been created.
The world built by the one man development team(still amazed by that) is bright, vibrant, funny and just plain gorgeous. There are times I find myself thinking what should I do today and making time in my imaginary schedule to chop down some trees so I can build a barn for some cows and expand my farm.
Stardew Valley is one of those rare gems that hook you in with a very simple but incredibly rewarding game loop and will have you coming back for more every single time. Stardew Valley has become my go to game to wind down and just relax and I urge anyone to give it a go.