farming sim. stardew valley
Stardew Valley. Source: Amazon

Have you played Harvest Moon? If so, you’ve played the basis for Stardew Valley.

When it comes to video games, be it computer or console games, I love them all. Harvest Moon is a guilty pleasure. When it first came out in the US in 1997 for the SNES, I was happy. I’m not a huge fan of the shooter type games, and I like a bit of action and adventure. That alone should tell you that Harvest Moon was probably not going to be my cup of tea.

I just had to try it. It promised to be a different type of game, and I can’t say I’m upset I got hooked. If you’ve played Harvest Moon, you know that you inherit your grandfathers dilapidated farm and you have three years to make it profitable. All the while, you should also marry someone and start a family too.

What is Stardew Valley?

farming games. simulation. stardew valley
Stardew Valley – Source: Steam

Stardew Valley is a Harvest Moon-like game. I found it through Steam because I was bored and needed something new to play. It promised to be like the classic game but, you know, better. Cool, let me try it. Besides, I needed to buy a game so that I could have friends on Steam.

When you start the game, you get the choice of creating a male or female character. It is something the original Harvest Moon lacked. In the beginning, you’re just a corporate cog in a wheel, no one of importance, and you so desperately seek to get away. So you take your move and take up residence in your Grandfather’s dilapidated farm. Because who thought about community and working to keep something going when someone passes. So far, so good, right? Harvest Moon basically with a new name.

You’ve got all the tools you need from the start and a small bit of seeds to get you started. It’s up to you to clear the farm, and upgrade everything to have a decent life. That’s basically the premise of Harvest Moon too. So why is this game so enjoyable?

What Stardew Valley does differently

stardew valley. farming simulation.
Stardew Valley Fishing – Source: Go Nintento

At first, the differences are subtle. You have a journal that gives you quests with traceable progress and rewards. Not all of them are easy to do, as they sometimes require you to make friends with certain people. You also learn to fish. This is the hardest little mini-game within the game. When you cast your pole into the water you get a hit, and then to reel the fish in you have to keep the fish between the bar. It pulses and you have to click or release your mouse in the right time to keep the fish in the right spot. I’m very bad at this. It’s a good thing my life isn’t tied to my fishing ability because I would not live long.

You also have more things to forage than in the other games. Random things you can pick up as you walk around. Areas on the map that you cannot explore until you unlock a specific zone or take certain actions.

One of the first things I discovered was the mines. When you enter you’re given a super useful but also horribly weak sword. They tell you to be-careful that creatures are spotted in the mines. What happened to the only danger being that you’d get too tired and pass out in the mines because you were trying to horde all the copper?

Apparently, you still have that risk, but now you can also add getting physically assaulted by slimes, bats and what they call stone guardians – except they really look like zombies who squeak when you hit them.

If your health gets too low, you will pass out and be rescued to the top floor of the mine, but you’ll lose gold, and some memories of however many floors down you’d made it and some items. So not only are you bleeding but you’ve got a concussion and slight amnesia? Good thing you remember how to get to your farm then!

Like in Harvest Moon, there are cut-scenes at certain times if you meet certain criteria. One of these cut scenes reveals the Community Centre, that they let fall into disrepair and basically fall down almost. When it is finally unlocked you enter it with the Mayor and see these little robot looking dudes. Granted you’re the only one who can see them. The mayor gives you a choice, you can try to see if there is any way to repair it or you can buy a membership to the games version of Walmart and turn the building into a warehouse.

Choosing to restore it sets you on a series of quests where you meet a wizard, drink some strange concoction that puts you ‘in-tune with the forest’ and lets you talk to the little sprite-like dudes. You can then spend the rest of the game gathering and turning in items to restore it. I’ve managed to restore one room, and this was the easiest. It was all due to foraging.

You can also level up. Not just your tools but yourself. As you forage, harvest, mine, etc, you gain levels. When you reach level five you can choose one of two paths to take in each section. The choices you take will help you on your path to your success.

Building coops and barns still costs far too much money, and upgrading your house is possible within the first year if you can find out what earns you over 1,000G a night. Unlike in Harvest Moon, if you place items in your shipping basket after the ‘deadline’ they still ship. There is no shipping deadline here. Just toss it all in before you go to sleep.

The game also auto-saves for you every time you sleep. Which is nice. If you’re anything like me you forget to save and then when you come back you have to redo several hours of play. And if there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s a game that lets me forget to save.

You clearly enjoy things that are awesome. Nice. In that case, you’ll probably be excited about the new Harry Potter AR Game, ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’.