Stardew Valley is the perfect mix of the Sims and Animal Crossing and will give you everything you could hope for and then some. Developed by Eric Barone and published by Chucklefish Games, it is one of the top games on the Xbox One market and is a must try.
You begin your adventure as a young lad or lass that has inherited a farm from your grandfather in happy Stardew Valley. After making your character (surprisingly highly customizable) you arrive at the farm to the greetings of some of the valley’s inhabitants. Cheerful hellos and helpful hints provide a tutorial of sorts to help you with basics. It provides enough of a base that helps you understand what needs to get done and how to do it but doesn’t hold your hand, providing the freedom right from the beginning to shape the game how you want.
After learning how to sow, plant, water and such, you get to explore the land a little bit. This is one of the greatest things of Stardew Valley. The colorful land and environment that is free to explore is so inviting and feels real despite the pixelated graphics. The forests are alive with activity as small animals run out view when you get near and berries populate the bushes at different times of the year. The beach and sea sound and look so well done that sometimes, you will visit just to see it.
There really is so much to do and see. You can choose from a variety of careers to make your money and expand your farm (no it doesn’t have to just be farming). You can also forage, mine, fish, just explore, do quests, mingle, and more. All of these are completely viable options to progress through the game. Some might take more times than others but it’s completely up to you and what you feel like doing. And there is no locked in career tree so feel free to dabble with fishing while you also mine. There is no real guidance here which at times can make you feel a bit lost or overwhelmed. It can also cause you to waste the first season finding a groove. While their may be something missing along the guidance of general game, it still feels natural in the sense that you just know you are supposed to expand your farm, make money, find love, and start a profession.
The mechanics of the game work so well. Simple but just complex enough to be challenging. Once you choose a profession (or two), you would want to upgrade tools or buy necessary equipment. Simple? Yes. But it’s not just about clicking “Upgrade.” It will consist of saving up the hard earned money and timing the upgrade to work to your advantage. All over the place there are small things that help you with this timing like your trusty TV that provides recipes for cooking, a very informative weather report, and some horoscope-like fortune teller. It’s a nice touch that adds even more depth and helps create daily routines.
The controls are well ported from the PC version that Stardew Valley originally was. The cursor aim is a bit tricky and take time to get used to but turning on an assistance option in the menu helps a bunch. The menus are well thought out and easy to navigate and really help with the general feel of the game.
It would be easy to drown tens if not hundreds of hours into this game. Even if you get bored with your game, starting anew is always an option! Especially when there is so many branches that diverge the gameplay path.
Stardew Valley is an absolute gem of a game. With so much to do and everything to explore, it will keep you busy for endless hours. Some minor things are bothersome but easy to get used to over time. It’s wonderfully crafted story will draw you in from the start and the incredibly detailed world will never let you go.