Home Sweet Home

The sun rises over the valley; birds chirp, your cat gently paws at your face, and you slowly open your eyes. You left behind your soul-crushing desk job in the hopes of finding something more meaningful in farming, but your back hates you right now. Your farm is a mess, you’re dead broke, and all you have is a few basic tools and some cheap seeds. There are some very busy days ahead of you, but at least you can do things at your own pace. Thus begins the adventure of the indie farming simulation and role-playing game Stardew Valley.

Primarily inspired by the Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley allows you to create your own character and vicariously live through them as a farmer in Pelican Town. You can choose from 24 different skin tones, 32 hair styles, 112 shirts, 20 accessories, and 2 pets. So the choices regarding how your character looks are fantastic. Then comes the fun part. Your first task is simple; you have to clean up the farm you inherited from your grandfather and make it your own. Starting your farm takes some time and attention to detail. Where do you want to start? How many seeds do you want to plant? Where to place them? How long do they take to grow? Can you grow them faster? Why am I finding Joja Cola’s in the bottom of my lake? All of these questions are answered as you progress and begin to see what your work yields.

Your farm is a mess, you’re dead broke, and all you have is a few basic tools and some cheap seeds.

As you improve your farm, you’ll be able to grow better crops that will fetch better prices. More money means you can decorate your sweet little home to your hearts desire. Your local store will sell you new items and allow you to change the floor or wall patterns. Or you can visit the evil, corporate Joja Mart and get what you need there. Eventually you’ll be able to expand your tiny farmhouse into a sprawling estate. If you get big enough, you’ll be able to care for animals, grow crops all year long, and create artisinal goods such as jam, honey, beer and wine.

It won’t take you long to realize things move faster when you invest in better tools, but you’ll have to do more than farm to get what you need. Mining, fishing, foraging, cooking, and crafting are also important elements in the game that can help your farm flourish. There are quests designed to help you along each path, but in true role playing form, you pick the path and how you’d like to explore. Either way, time management will become your friend, as you only have a limited amount of time and energy to get things done each day. After all, you’re just one farmer.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to do it all alone.

Speaking of time, there are four seasons in Stardew Valley: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Each season lasts up to 28 days and brings with it a wealth of new seeds, trees, fish, foraging items and so forth. You’ll watch your farm go from a lush, full field to a barren winter wasteland as time moves forward. Then you’ll start a new year with a bigger house, upgraded tools, and a better understanding of what you need to accomplish before the end of the season. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do it all alone.

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If you feel lonely, the good people of Pelican Town are more than happy to keep you company. Some more so than others. You can interact with and befriend npc’s by completing quests. There are town events each month to help create a sense of fellowship with your neighbors. Everyone has a birthday and there’s usually a place in town that they frequent. So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to win the heart of your beloved at the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies or the Flower Dance. If you so wish, you can even romance and marry a single character. Having children is an option as well. Or if you want, you can live life as a hermit who barely speaks to anyone other than grunting to make a few purchases at Pierre’s.

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Pretty soon, you’ll be able to play the game online with your friends. That’s right, there will be a multiplayer expansion. According to a blog post on stardewvalley.net, Stardew Valley’s developer, Chucklefish, expected that the expansion will be rolled out by the end of 2017. We’re still waiting for that as of April 2018, but I have hope. As for a multiplayer experience for the PS4, we don’t have a date, but the update will be headed our way eventually. As if you needed another reason to pick up this game.

At its core, Stardew Valley is a happy, comforting game that will help you unwind. The music is fantastic, there’s barely any pressure, and you’ll find a lot of humor in places you least expect it. If you’re the type of player that needs objectives and quests to accomplish, there is plenty of those to keep you entertained. However, there is no need to complete most things. In fact, I would even say that there is no right or wrong way to play, unless you’re not playing at all. Then you’re totally missing out!

So why not take a trip to Pelican Town? Your new life is waiting for you there.