**Post originally published in August 2018**
Stardew Valley is a harvest moon-like farming game, with lots of features,. There is a lot of effort put into it and since there are a tons of things to do, the immersion is quite high despite not being really narrative-oriented. I really rather enjoy it, having spent over 400 hours on it already. I’m currently playing other things but will return to it sometimes. I miss harvest moon with its lovely characters, but Stardew is really good and creates its own distinct character and flavour. And I think the fact that it’s designed to be customised by the player and lets them do what they want and how they want, giving them options, works towards its advantage.
The game is pleasant, open to customisation and you do what you want. It isn’t perfect, there are a few things that could be tweaked but most of the gripes can be dealt with thanks to mods. You can adapt this game to your liking and do what you like in it.
[Story] The farmer inherits a farm from his/ her grandfather and goes there after the stress of everyday life in a city gets to him/her. There, the farmer meets a cast of colourful characters, lots of tasks, including ruined buildings to restore and a plot about corporation that almost takes over the town – but not if the farmer can help it. The valley is populated by a colourful bunch of characters who have their flaws. Not all of them are acceptable to me, but it’s definitely not a community that’s all sunshine and roses if that’s not your thing. There are things between the lines, some are quite infuriating (if, like me, you hate lying and cheating)
- Big map with lots of areas and secret areas discovered over time.
- There are five different maps avaialbe for choosing when you start the game, each favours a different kind of skill. The standard map leaves most room for customization and favours farming, other maps limit farming area but give special perks in return
- quest system for tasks every other day – there are quests with time limit and longer-term quests that come in from the post as well as central story-related quests.
- post system: villagers send in requests and gifts once friendship increases, also notifications about special events.
- very fun central task of collecting bundles for restoring a run-down communiity center- i loved it and the rewards and the jumino race – this adds the charm
- mines, one finite, another infitnite,
- artifacts collecting for extra rewards
- furnish your hourse.
- fishing, including legendary fish once-per-save file.
- foraging, including three/four-day extra bountiful spawns in spring, summer and fall
- fun professions in each of main skills : farming / foraging / fishing / mining
- Very nice soundtrack/bgm, there are a few lovely tracks I really enjoy.
- nice, colourful cast of characters all in all, with unique storylines and a range of traits/characteristics.
- multiplayer option, if you like.
- a number of bachelors / bachelorettes to marry / all unique and pretty much down to earth. I always liked that aspect of harvest moon. Here, It might initially seem like they aren’t charming but it depends, there is something about each of them that makes them nice even if initially they may seem a little offputting and sometimes downright depressing (Shane’s heart events were very heavy – and presented in a heavy-handed way, they did initially put me off but…there is one particular thing about Shane that warmed him up to me and I started seeing it differently). My favourite bachelor is Harvey though.
- You can have same-sex marriages if you like. A lot of things are really left so that player can have the game experience they like. I am GxB and I find that there is enough variety in the bachelors to have a nice experience in the end and the characters are nice, flawed and lovely.
- When married, spouses help you at the farm once or twice a week. There’s also an option to kiss / apprently it removes exhaustion when done once a day – that’s a neat little feature, the “kiss animation alone is very cute.
- there is an option to divorce and you can if you like, plus you can make the exes forget about marriage too. Heck you can even turn the kids into doves and just redo everything without starting over if that’s not your thing but spouses whose friendship meter your maxed out, will give you a stardrop – an item that raises max energy…but only once per save file. If you divorce and marry someone else, there won’t be a new stardrop from new spouse. personally, I never use this feature, I don’t like it and I’m happy with my choices so divorce is redundant for me but the option is there.
- Some really lovely and fun seasonal events, plus I love the three-day spawn-spree in each season, spring-fall, and especially the winter market. Winter market is a three-day period when after 5 pm a merchant fleet docks at the beach area and sells various items and there’s a submarine for deep sea fishing.
- the fact that base game is open to mods – we can customise game experience that way. There are a few that really improve the gameplay for me. Thanks to mods, everyone’s game experience can be different.
in general, the game leaves a lot of choice and customization possibilities. You can play single player or multiplayer – if you like that. As far as I see, the game is open to a pretty diverse range of tastes + there’s modders work that really enhances or improves some aspects of the gameplay.
My favourite mod:
DcBurger’s portrait mod has absolutely GORGEOUS version of portraits, including a much welcome improvement to the lovely Harvey. There are plenty amazing mods that do get updated when game gets significant updates, so you need to keep up. I adore that mod, the art style is gorgeous and much much better than vanilla version, and coupled with Harvey dialogue expansion mod that adds more lines. He’s a really lovely character.
DCBurger was actually kind enough to include FOUR versions of Harvey – one with both moustache and glasses, one with just moustache, one with just glasses and one with nothing. I like either the one with everything or this one. This portrait mod is amazing. I love all the other portrait makeovers too, it’s just a MUCH better art style Dcburger did wonderful job on all of them and i cannot play the game without this mod’s portraits any more.
My biggest gripes – I don’t have any pretty much since most of the gripes can be dealt with thanks to hard-working modders. one wish i have is that reverse proposals were possible.
The possibility to customise game experience is much welcome, since I can pick and chose how i want my game to go and feel.
It’s a very nice game experience all in all, and the closest in spirit to harvest moon games (which i love) that I have seen. I have spent a lot of time on this, i didn’t think I would. Just on single game since I don’t really like multiplayers. But even in single gameplay, there is so much content + mods, i can really spend hours on it until I finish everything i wanted to do.