Like a force of nature, sometimes games come out of left field and smash themselves into a collective with a resounding “WTF, guys?”
Stardew Valley is one such game. Over the weekend, a whole swath of my social media circles jumped into the game, causing others to ask why the sudden explosion of SdV? On the surface it’s not one of those games that you’d think would gain inexplicably robust traction. As my daughter put it, it’s a combo of Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, only without talking animals or that jackass Resetti. Both of those games are available for the Nintendo handheld platform, and have done quite well for themselves there, but due to the nature of each, expecting a PC version of either — never mind a mash-up of the two — doesn’t seem like it would work.
The idea of SdV is that you’ve inherited a run-down farm in the eponymous Stardew Valley. You meet the locals who inhabit a nearby town (where you’ll do all your shopping and event-attending), but mainly you’re charged with clearing your land, planting crops and raising livestock, and…apparently investigating the presence of some kind of nature spirits? And adventuring, with swords and all that.
As of this post, Steam has me on record as having played 5.8 hours of SdV, and I feel like I’ve not done a heck of a lot. I’ve gotten to level 5 in the mines, killed 10 slimes, and have gained access to the Adventurer’s Guild. I’ve built a fence around my scarecrow and crops in the yard. I’ve adopted a dog. I’ve unlocked the community center and have discovered a magical force of nature with the help of the town’s resident wizard. I failed to win the annual Egg Festival Egg Hunt. I learned that I suck at fishing.
I’ve played both Harvest Moon (and also Rune Factory) as well as a few Animal Crossing games, and I do know that for me, there’ll come a time when I’ve gotten past all the “gee whiz” stuff and the narrative is paused while I catch up with gameplay. That’s usually where these kinds of games lose me. I’m very “task oriented”, so if there’s no tasks available to me, I end up tending to my crops and then going to bed (which ends the day and saves the game) sometime around 11AM in-game time. I’m glad that SdV has crafting, which will help alleviate the “have to buy them all” functionality most games of this kind lean towards. My next goal, though, is to buy a coop for animals, but at 4000g plus materials, it’s going to be a while. My immediate goal, then, is to make money.