Stardew Valley is the meditation of video games— calming, and surprisingly addicting. This role-playing farming stimulation game gained massive popularity after being released on Microsoft Windows in 2016. It has now made its way to various other platforms and consoles, including the Nintendo Switch.
The player’s goal is to build a successful farm in a small town by growing crops and raising animals, similar to that of Harvest Moon. Other tasks in the game include crafting goods, exploring mines, fishing, and social activities (and yes, many of the town’s residents are eligible for marriage). Stardew Valley offers dozens of hours of gameplay and is just $14.99, 1/4th the price of other popular Nintendo Switch games, making this indie game a fantastic value. There is even a multiplayer mode, so players can build farms with friends provided that each player owns a copy of the game.
Things I like
- Stardew Valley is not a stressful game in any capacity, making it wonderful for casual players who want to escape the pressures of shooter games and take a break from being the Hero of Hyrule.
- The game features music and sound effects that I find pleasant, but you don’t need any sound to fully enjoy the game.
- I found the controls of the game quick and easy to learn. The gameplay is not complex, so even for people who never played Stardew on PC, there is no daunting learning curve
- With the satisfaction of selling crops, caring for animals, and slowly building a beautiful custom farm, this game is straight-up fun. It is impossible to make truly catastrophic mistakes, so players can feel confident in their gameplay decisions and explore without serious consequences.
Things I don’t like
- You can’t save the game whenever you want. Stardew Valley plays through a series of roughly 13-minute-long “days.” Players cannot save the game until they put their farmer to bed, therefore ending the day and triggering the start of the next. This means when you start a new day, you must commit to playing it through or else lose progress (or at least suffer the opportunity cost of putting your farmer to bed early in the day). This gives Stardew Valley what I like to call the “Netflix Effect.” I always found myself saying “just one more day,” the way I say “just one more episode” when I’m binging my favorite Netflix shows.
- While the retro graphics are not bad, Stardew Valley lacks some of the “wow” of other Switch game graphics (such as the famously beautiful Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). I grew to appreciate the art of the game, but I did not like it originally.
- Stardew Valley could be considered repetitive. While more diverse and interesting tasks are unlocked through the game, many of the chores that must be repeated daily can be a bit boring. This includes watering plants, collecting items, and even just walking across the map.
Stardew Valley is a fun, relaxing game for people who want a non-competitive, undemanding environment to explore. The gameplay is complex enough to keep you busy and interested, but not so much that there is a steep learning curve. While the game could use a save button and fewer repetitive actions, it’s an outstanding value for its many hours of enjoyable gameplay.