First impressions : Stardew Valley
After opening a letter your grandfather gave you on his deathbed, you discover he left you a farm in the rural town of Pelican town. Can you restore the farm, the community, and your connection with the townspeople?
Stardew Valley is an excellent example of a labour of love gone right, developed by ConcernedApe , published by Chucklefish, a company who last released Starbound, something that is visible in the game through its lavishly detailed pixel art environments and creatures. The beaches flow softly into the ocean with bobs and moving water throughout (if its extra bubbly, that means it’s fishing time!). While this did lead to a few times when I was unsure if I could chop down a few trees, it is easy to learn what you can and cant do within a few minutes.
One major mechanic Stardew Valley has borrowed from the harvest moon series is the energy meter. This bar is lowered whenever you use a tool, and serves as a soft cap on how much you can do per day, which while it can be extended with food and medicines, it provides an excellent way of preventing the player from going overboard or burning themselves out.
As with any similar game worth it’s salt, the cast of characters in Pelican town is of a wide variety , featuring a particularly odd mix of culture, meshing Texan style southern USA styles with some european influence in certain buildings. While one family lives in a trailer, another family lives in a quite modern home, with computers and televisions.
Speaking of the characters, the game does feature a wide range of romance options, with 5 girls and 5 guys romance-able to any gender of your character, freeing up a medley of personalities. Do you romance sebastian, the emo nerd who locks himself in his room all day and may or may not have had their overworld sprite mistaken as a girl by me? or do you want to help the shy and unsure Penny to find her voice in the valley?
Review part two:
Moving on to the nitty gritty of the game, progression has multiple different avenues, depending on the player’s direction on how they desire to play, with the games open environment offering crafts of all kinds. You can fish, become the social butterfly you’ve always dreamed of, or even journey to the depths of the earth using swords and bombs to reach the bottom of the mines, dispatching monsters galore.
While somewhat necessary , the season system can lead to several frustrating points, such as discovering the last object you needed stopped being obtainable yesterday, due to the seasonal shift. At times however this does present interesting challenges, such as finding a way to feed and keep your animals warm when the winter frost hits.
whilst the game has no “true” ending, there is a certain point in which your achievements are tested. If you do not wish to partake in the game`s unlock system, there IS an alternative method to obtaining them, but in my own opinion, it defies the very theme and nature of the game. I will not go into detail upon it, to prevent overt spoilers.
Overall the game has a lions share of positive points, far overwhelming any negative aspects that may occur. This game was made by one developer to provide a Harvest moon game on a platform without one, and has more then succeeded.
- Lovable characters
- Beautiful artwork
- Rich ambience
- Tedium while waiting for crops to grow
- Lack of meaningful progression beyond few events
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