Stardew Valley (2016)

Farmville and Animal Crossing meet the graphics of early Pokemon games in Stardew Valley. Harvest your produce, catch the best fish, mine the expensive gems, explore the village, becomes friends with the locals, and fall in love all in this short but expansive game. Your character receives a farm in your grandfather’s will, his old estate near Pelican Town in the heart of Stardew Valley. Getting a break from the bustle of city life, you decide to take over this farm, transforming a derelict yard into a lush and flourishing operation. With many ways to “complete” the game, there is not one right answer to playing. With several characters available for marriage, plenty of crops to grow, and an array of fish to catch, there is little you can’t do. Want to build the largest milk operation? Buy several barns to get started with cows and goats. Want to be the egg master? Purchase a coop with chickens and ducks. Fish ponds, wooly sheep, discovering the “Void Chicken,” and solving quests for various villagers, the possibilities are nearly endless.

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All Four Seasons represented in beautiful detail.

I first played a round of this game at recommendation from a friend (how I get most of my recommendations) so we could play together. There is a massive multiplayer mode that was released in 2018 to accompany the endless game play that was seemingly difficult with only one pair of hands. Although, once you marry, that character ends up helping around the farm, it was difficult to get that second character to help out until they were much further along in the game. Now having the option to play with friends, this game has multiplied in features. Unfortunately, I haven’t been given the opportunity to try the Co-op version, but I’m sure it’s just as fun just with collaboration with friends.

The graphics are our classic 8-bit, pixel art gameplay with pleasant representations of crops, animals, and people. Here are some that I just couldn’t resist in re-sharing for you.

When playing this game, I found myself becoming very relaxed. Most of that was in response to the music. The soundtrack changes from different days, locations, and even seasons, giving a range of experiences. On rainy days, there’s a softer soundtrack to accommodate for the rain noises. On sunny days, the tempo boosts a bit to get you energized with the sun. On winter days, it’s very somber and collected as the whole town just tries to survive another winter. With soundbites from various animals, the waves of the ocean, and crickets in the woods, this game doesn’t leave any sound unheard. At some points during gameplay, I would just pause the game and listen to the music and sounds that would continue playing. Maybe this is a form of ASMR? Not sure.

The game has also garnered a fast following of fans. From creating fan fiction around the love of Sam and Sebastian (of course I ship them) to cross-stitching individual crops and animals (which I’m also a big fan of), this game continues to grab new players. As it joins more consoles and gains more traction through their downloaded app (both available on Apple and Android), I don’t think this game is going to be quiet any time soon.

I cannot recommend this game any higher. I stumbled upon it and find myself not only addicted, but truly waiting for the next season in the game so I can grow corn, parsnips, or coffee beans.

 

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