A&E Review

“Stardew Valley”: What in Pixelation?

Screenshot courtesy of Caleb Leasure.

Genre: Farming Sim
MSRP: $14.99
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox 1, PlayStation 4.
Number of players: 1-4 

Have you ever wanted to leave the modern world? Just put down the coffee and tear-stained lecture notes and head out into the wilderness? Only to be met by the crushing reality: the outdoors are for the rich now.

Well, if that’s a problem you’re looking to solve, enter the indie darling “Stardew Valley.” It’s a farming, outdoorsy style game that is built on slow, rewarding gameplay and a relaxing ambience.

You play as a former office worker burnt out from city life before quitting and inheriting the farm your grandpa left for you. There you must establish a successful business selling crops, fish, ore and other farm products, and slowly get to know all the inhabitants of the small village. 

The strength of “Stardew Valley” lies in the slow nature of the game that is never boring or frustrating. This is a hard type of game to make consistently engaging, because all too often these games boil down to tedious, grinding slogs. “Stardew Valley” counteracts this by having the gameplay be relaxed and melancholic, from digging dirt to slowly walking into town to pick up groceries. 

The ambient music and excellent art style of the game makes it feel like relaxation rather than busywork. The artwork is amazing, with a wide variety of sprite work and animations mixed with a rich color palette, creating a beautiful work of art.

The core gameplay revolves around farming, and it can be overwhelming at times. Besides the million types of plants and trees, you also have chicken coops, barns of cows, beehives and even cave mushrooms. All these can be sold in order to acquire more money to buy more stuff.

Outside of farming there’s fishing, where you can get anything from a one inch sardine to a Cthulu-like entity standing on the same pier.

While not great, I found the relationship mechanics to be hilarious. You can flirt with people by running up to them without saying anything, giving them some sort of fruit or knickknack and listening to them babble on about their lives for a few sentences. Then you run off, on the prowl for another person to stalk with a fruit basket.

To sum it all up, “Stardew Valley” feels like Minecraft but with more structure, characters to get attached to and a wide range of side activities to keep you engaged far longer than most games I’ve played in this genre.

By: Caleb Leasure