Do The Dew – Stardew Valley

Do The Dew – Stardew Valley

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Featured, Gaming

Do The Dew – Stardew Valley


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.

The most interesting part about SdV is that it’s about 75% sandbox. You can plant and harvest, raise animals, fish, talk to the locals, adventure in the caverns, clear your land, and craft and upgrade gear and furnishings. Every now and then there’s a cutscene which presents a story involving the town, or individual NPCs. For example, I saw one scene which had the town’s resident homeless guy Linus being chased away from angry old guy George’s trash cans. Linus said that it was just wasted, but was offered whatever he needed by the nearby tavern keeper. So far that scene hasn’t really panned out in any meaningful way, although I’m not discounting it. It was a nice “slice of life” event, though, which gives SdV a lot of it’s charm. The NPCs will wander around on schedules, doing things that they need to do, and that gives the town life as you go about your own business.

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.

I suspect SdV will be an in-betweener that I can fire up and go about some business in small chunks when I’m not playing Black Desert Online or The Division, both of which are releasing in the span of the next seven or so days. Thankfully, it’s the kind of game where you can log in, take care of some tasks for a few in-game days, and not have to worry that the game is progressing in real time (a la Animal Crossing).