I’ve gotten back into the Stardew Valley groove and thought it was about time I wrote this classic game a review. It’s everyone’s favorite cozy game for a reason. Stardew Valley indulges the post-Industrial fantasy of leaving city life to own a farm and live off the land. This fantasy comes complete with anti-corporate and pro-small business messages. Many of the townsfolk are following their dreams despite the modest life it offers them. When living in a capitalist society gets tiring, Stardew Valley offers the perfect escape.
Stardew Valley has progression, but the player is also free to play at their desired pace. Some players take things slow, some speedrun objectives, and some grind to 100% completion. Leveling up, accumulating gold, and progressing can get surprisingly addicting.
Along the way, the player gets to know the local townsfolk, who feel like real people with flaws and personal journeys. The cutscenes are simple with limited animation but effective and don’t interrupt the gameplay too much. There are several unique bachelors and bachelorettes to romance, or the player can choose to stay single. The NPCs add a community-building aspect to what could be an average farming game.
Small details contribute to the overall charm of Stardew Valley. The soundtracks maintain the cozy, natural vibe of the game and change depending on the season and location. The sound design, in general, is impeccable–everything from the popping sounds of adding items to your inventory to the door creaks. Ambiance like birds tweeting and water splashing further contribute to the natural environment of Stardew Valley. In addition, the pixel art style is simple, cute, and vibrant.
My only complaint about Stardew Valley would be that there could be a little more guidance. I am aware that part of the appeal of the game is figuring things out yourself, but there are some secrets I would never have figured out without the internet. Tips come gradually by finding lost books and watching television over two in-game years, which equates to about 48 real-time hours. It can feel discouraging when you’ve missed something in a season and have to wait an in-game year because you didn’t know any better. I know players who have dropped the game within the first season because they simply did not know what to do. If the game had a tiny bit more guidance at the start, these players might have stuck with the game and enjoyed it.
All in all, I’d rate Stardew Valley a 9.5/10. It is one of my absolute favorite games, and I think anyone looking for a comforting, chill game should start their first farm. It’s available on PC and most consoles and can be played single or multiplayer!