If there’s one game out there I didn’t expect to love and then fell head over heels for, it’s Stardew Valley. It’s a charming little pixel RPG where you pick up life in a tiny town as a farmer, and everything about it is a delight.
Curious, or already a Stardew fan? I’ve got plenty more to say about it below the cut!
So, a disclaimer before I start: I’ve logged 144 hours (6 whole days!) between my two files on the Switch, so I am biased: I really really love this game, and I recommend as much as possible. It’s fun and relaxing and cute and everything I could possibly ask for on days when I need to just relax and take care of myself in the most low maintenance way possible.
Taking care of little pixel crops, in some fun, weird, circular way, takes care of me.
Anyway, the premise of Stardew Valley is wonderfully simple and stress-free. You play as a farmer who’s just inherited Grandpa’s farm in Stardew Valley, close to sleepy little Pelican Town. It’s up to you to develop the farm in any way you choose, which means tidying up and getting planting for most folks. Of course, if you’re more interested in other activities, like fishing or foraging, you can choose a different farm layout when you start the game. Newbies are advised to choose the standard map for the smoothest learning experience of all the available mechanics.
After that, Stardew is as casual or intense as you make it! Want to take your time? Go right ahead. Want to burn through achievements and develop skills as quickly as possible? Totally doable! It’s remarkable how flexible the game can be towards all kinds of different play styles.
(And if you’re like me, have some handy resources, like the farm planner, crafting checklist, recipe guide, community center guide, and some profit guides from Carl’s Guide to Stardew Valley, my favorite resource. Oh, and take a beginner’s guide with you, too!)
Another one of my favorite features is the ability to romance some of the Pelican Town residents. There are six men and six women you can romance as the game goes on, up to the point where you can marry them, have them move onto your farm to live with you, and have/adopt kids with them! It’s all very sweet, and it’s not gender-restricted. No matter what gender you gave your avatar, you can romance any one of the twelve characters available!
Image from the Stardew Valley Wiki on Marriage.
It’s probably no surprise that I romanced sweet, bookish Penny on my first run, and reclusive, romantic writer Elliot on my second. Bookworm’s paradise, honestly.
And on top of all this, another great feature is the brand new multiplayer feature! Only available for PC players at the moment, this allows you to manage a farm with up to three other friends for maximum farm shenanigans. New events, like the Night Market and an event that unlocks a secret collection type, have been added to spice up gameplay, and now there are extra interactions you can take with some of the townspeople, a couple of which actually add bonuses to some of your skills around the farm! Also, you can now put a hat on your horse, which is obviously the most important part of the update.
Ideally, this update will hit the Switch soon, because I’m really eager to give all of it a try! It is for sure in development, but it may take some time to implement the port from PC to the Switch, so patience won’t hurt. For a full list of features in the most recent update, though, the dev blog has cataloged them all, some more vaguely than others. We have to keep secrets, don’t we?
If you haven’t played Stardew Valley yet, I highly recommend it. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s adaptable to your play style, and best of all, it’s really not too stressful. If you’re looking for a game you can play for hours on end without getting too intense, this is definitely it.