One of the games that I got in the Humble Bundle Freedom Bundle is Stardew Valley. I had heard good things about this game from reviews and friends, and was anxious to give it a try. I’ve now been playing it for a few weeks, and can say that it’s a lot of fun, and really well put together.
The basic premise of the game is similar to many other farming simulators. You’ve inherited your grandfather’s farm, and you’re dropped off next to a blank slate that you can make into whatever you want. In the case of Stardew Valley, this involves clearing out land for your farm (and eventual livestock), and then planting seeds, keeping them watered and growing every morning.
Once you’ve done your farm chores for the day you can head into town and interact with the townsfolk. There are people all over town you can get quests from, give gifts to, and even eventually marry and have kids with. Many of the shops in town allow you to sell your wares, but thankfully there’s a box right outside your house that you can dump stuff into, and collect the money overnight. These shops also perform services like upgrading your house, and improving your tools.
When you’re feeling antsy for some combat you can head down into the mines and start fighting your way to the bottom level, gathering valuable gems and ores along the way. These ores can be turned into better tools so that you can progress even deeper in the mines.
All of this is buttressed by a fun set of item bundles to complete in a run-down community center. As you give more donations to the various bundles you unlock more aspects of the game, and more areas to explore (as well as bringing the community center closer to completion). However, the evil Jojo Mart is in town, trying to run all the small businesses out of business. You can choose to give in and join them, or you can stand up for the little guy, and keep the small town small.
Needless to say, I’ve been having fun. The game is divided into days, with 28 days in a season, and four seasons to a year. I just completed my first year, and I’m anxious to get back to Spring where I can start planting crops again (no crops in winter per se). If I had only one complaint about the game it’s the fishing mini-game mechanic. It’s frustrating, as the game doesn’t give you any hints as to where to learn how to catch easier fish. Instead you find yourself on the docks by the ocean struggling with catching even the most basic of fish. I finally had to do some online research to learn that there were easier fish to catch in a different area, and that the game gets easier the higher level you are in fishing.
This one issue aside, I’ve been spending way too much time playing. The game only saves when you put your character to bed for the night, so you find yourself in a constant, “just one more day” cycle, when you really should be going to bed in real life! However, that type of enjoyment means that the game has some real magic to it. I’m sure it will eventually wane as I get to the final stages of the game, but for now it’s a great distraction, and I highly recommend it.