The recently released Stardew Valley has skyrocketed up the Steam sales charts since its launch, with the pixel art farming sim selling an immense number of copies (nearly 500,000 at the time of writing) in barely 2 weeks. This is one of the fastest selling indie games I’ve ever experienced, and I am glad to have been able to play this amazing game.
Inspired by the popular life-simulation series Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley is a farming and life simulator, where at the beginning of the game your grandfather passes on his failing farm in the picturesque Pelican Town. Starting with only a small amount of money, you must work to build your farm up from a run-down, weed infested plot of land into a prosperous business, while simultaneously befriending the townsfolk, restoring the town to it’s former glory, and finding a spouse.
While at first glance, it may seem like the only thing to do in this game is farming, there are actually a host of different activities available to help you earn money. Along with the standard growing crops and raising animals, you can also fish, forage or explore the deep and dangerous mines where you can either mine precious gems and ores, or fight dangerous monsters for loot that they drop. All of these activities are viable ways of both making money as well as spending time while you wait for your farm to begin turning a profit.
Obviously, farming is the primary method of earning money (it is a farming game after all) and the mechanics presented in this game are very solid. Drawing heavy inspiration from Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town on the Game boy Advance,(which was also my first Harvest Moon Game) with it’s pixel art and design, it takes all of the best parts of that game, and combines it with some great updates, mainly sprinklers, items you can craft which will water your plants for you, to help you save time and allow you to further explore the town.
Pelican Town itself is filled with a large number of colourful characters, each with their own likes and dislikes, and their own day to day schedules. You can attempt to befriend them by giving them gifts and talking to them daily, and occasionally they will post quests on the town notice board, asking you to fetch them some items in exchange for a friendship boost. Achieving higher friendship levels with the townsfolk will lead to them sometimes sending you useful items, or recipes that you can use to cook high quality food. There is also 10 spouse choices in this game, each with radically different personalities and interests, and, in a break from Harvest Moon tradition, same-sex marriage is included in this game, allowing you to romance all 10 of these characters in order to find your perfect match.
Fans of Harvest Moon and other life simulators and farming games will definitely enjoy this game, especially if you enjoyed Friends of Mineral Town, a very similar game. I highly recommend this game to everyone interested in this sort of game, and even those who haven’t tried a similar game before to try this one out. It’s relatively cheap, and amazing fun, and at the time of writing this, I have over 40 hours invested in less than one week of owning it.