Comfy – Extreme levels of Comfy.
That’s all that comes to mind when I think of Stardew Valley, an RPG/Farm Simulator. It’s developed by ConcernedApe, published by Chucklefish. A few people may still feel the sting of Starbound’s development progress, but I can assure you Stardew Valley is on a completely different level (which the thousands of positive reviews on Steam can attest to).
The game starts with a scene most of us I, experience every day of my humdrum life. Working in my cubicle I long for the days of tending to crops, living off the land, being a productive member of society. As it seems ConcernedApe had the same idea. After a character customisation screen, I was sent off by Grandpa (who bared a striking resemblance to Santa) to the family farm to live out my wildest dreams of planting turnips.
Upon arriving in the sleepy town the game opens up. If you’ve played Harvest Moon then you know exactly what you had to do. But for the newcomers to the genre (and there is quite a few of them as the game is currently number one on the Steam chart), I’ll outline the basic principles.
After a quick introduction from a far too eager Mayor, you’re lead to your newly acquired farm. It’s the only one within the town and apparently no one had the thought to use the land for you know… farming. At the farm you’ll be tending to all the day to day needs of it: sowing crops, clearing out shrubbery and chopping wood. You’re given quite a big chunk of land here – admittedly it’s littered with trees, bushes, boulders that you need to clear away. This is no simple task and cannot be done in a day (seriously Leah, a “couple of days work” isn’t enough to clear this farm, fuck you). The material gathered from this allows you to build further extensions to the farm, such as new buildings, fences, pens and paths. This, in turn, opens up more opportunity to grow your income.
Pelican Town itself isn’t just a hub; it’s a living town with characters that go about their daily routine. There’s something about them, though, the first quest you’re given has you running around introducing yourself to everyone. Between my times sitting at the playground running after children to talk to them and wandering around town, I found that there was something off. Everyone was nice, said “Hello” and generally gave me a bit of information but it didn’t seem right. I felt like Barnaby on my first day at Midsomer Village, the people were hiding something from me, behind that thin veil of politeness. The only person I could trust was that Old Geezer Gareth who admittedly was a bit of a cock.
Figuring out the insidious nature of the town didn’t take long, as the town message board slowly filled up with requests. As it turns out Pelican Town is quite dependent on the local farmer. It’s a wonder how they survived this long without my input. Jodie wanting a cabbage delivery, Ruby fucking lost her axe again, Sebastian has decided he’s not going to fish, even though he has a beach front house. They were entirely dependent on me! The lonesome farmer who just wanted to sit at home, tend his crops and maybe find a sweet wife to do the work instead.
By now I was thinking to myself “There’s no way I can get any farming done at this rate.” Gosh-darn was I right about that, for Stardew Valley had more to offer than simple farming as an income generator. After thirty minutes of exploring I had found the abandoned mineshaft of the village filled with creatures to conquer, A local wizard who wanted help communicating with some spiritual creatures, and of course fishing. I cannot even fathom the amount of time I’ve spent at the docks catching Herring and Sardines. The game definitely has a lot to offer you, I’ve been playing non-stop for the past 6 hours and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game.
A lot of the game’s charm lies within the visuals, you can tell a lot of detail and care has been put into the Pixel art. This is a nice change from the standard that Indie developers typically provide, each area within the game has a specific theme and feeling to it. The seasons in the game completely revamp the map and provide a stunning landscape for which you roam around in. Overall the game is very relaxing. I found myself getting lost within it tending to my virtual farm needs, rather than my real life needs such as… you know, eating and laundry.
There’s definitely a lot to do with Stardew Valley, with more to come too. In the past two days, ConcernedApe has released two patches addressing community issues and is already planning future content and patches such as four player Co-operation. It’s refreshing to see such enthusiasm coming from an Indie developer and it definitely feels like Stardew Valley is not a cash-in and run game, I’m excited for the content that will be released within the year.
The game won’t break the bank as well as it’s modestly priced at NZ$17.99, easily offering 20+ hours of entertainment. Many nights I found myself staying up until 1AM saying “Just one more day”. It’s easily a game I see myself spending many hours in, and one that I could recommend for anyone who would like to sit back relax, grow a couple of crops and forget about the fast life of white collar office work.