Stardew Valley is generally classified as a country-life simulator, a surprise indie hit that sold more than 3.5 million copies in 2017. That’s an impressive feat for a game completely created and designed by one man, Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone. It takes inspiration from a classic JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) farming sim, Harvest Moon.
In the game, you leave your soul-crushing office job to take over your grandfather’s newly-inherited farm. The beauty of the game lies in its openness. You’re free to do as you like. You can spend your time and money growing peaceful crops and turning them into artisanal products for additional profit or develop a thriving ranch of animals. If neither of those lifestyles seem appealing, become a master fisherman or spend your time foraging or mining for gems and ore. Or dabble in them all. There are even several different types of farms to play, each suitable to a different playing style.
There are quests to guide your gameplay but they can be ignored or put off for as long as you’d like. If you’re the social type, you can focus on making friends with villagers, bringing them gifts of varying desirability for rewards like building materials or new recipes. You can even find a love interest, get married and have kids. Obsessive types will enjoy completing the extensive collections of items for the community center and library.
With so many video games focused on button-mashing and frenzied play, Stardew Valley is a welcome change and reminder than not everyone wants to be a spree-killer in every video game. There is combat in Stardew Valley, but only in the mines. When you want to hack-and-slash you can but it’s not a primary goal. Instead you get a perfectly chill game that lets you play how you like without penalty.
It’s the peacefulness of Stardew Valley that many find appealing. With so much crazy happening in the real world today, it’s soothing to find a calming, stress-free game to escape into with a fun story and cast of characters. It doesn’t require a huge time investment in long missions nor are there loot boxes to buy. Multi-player is coming soon for co-op farming.
If you’re looking for a great game to get high and get lost in, you should give Stardew Valley a try.
Available on PC/Mac and all consoles – average price $15.