It’s hard to get your friends to understand why a farming video game would be so much fun. Every time I’ve had to explain a Harvest Moon game to someone they immediately look bored when I mention the agricultural aspect. But trust me, farming can be fun and if you haven’t tried it yet then now is the perfect time. You may have heard of a little game called Stardew Valley. If not, I’m going to assume you don’t keep up with news in the gaming industry very often. Stardew Valley is one of the most popular games out right now. It was first released for PC in early 2016 and then other systems later that year, but nothing for the Nintendo fans. I have waited so long to play this game and now that it’s out on Nintendo Switch, I finally have the chance.
Stardew Valley is so similar to my favorite series Harvest Moon, that I fell in love with it immediately. The game gets started pretty quickly after you create your little farming sprite. A short cutscene shows the player looking very depressed at a boring corporate job. It’s the typical story of a big city resident getting tired of the same old thing everyday. So you pack up and move to your grandfather’s shabby farm in a place called Stardew Valley. The farm is run down and needs a lot of TLC before you can really get started with anything. There are weeds, huge rocks and trees scattered around your farm that can be removed with tools that were left behind from when your grandfather was here. They are far from top quality, but everything can be upgraded if you have the materials. Don’t worry, for all of you who can’t fathom a game where you’re constantly farming, there are a TON of other things to do in Stardew Valley.
Farming will be your top priority, but you’ll also be foraging for materials so you can craft furniture for your house, build various buildings on your land (barns, coops, silos, etc.) and upgrade your tools. There are many areas to explore, including a mine that has over 100 floors to explore, filled with monsters and valuable loot that you can sell for money. If you don’t like mining you can always go fishing at one of the many rivers, lakes or ocean spots around Stardew Valley. There’s also a bustling little town with a pretty big cast of characters, each with their own personality, likes and dislikes. After you’ve become friends with some of the townsfolk, you will start to see cutscenes and new items will be available. The characters will share special moments with you and ask your opinion about things that they are interested in. If you end up liking one of them and they are single, you can even get married and have children together. You can buy clothes and seeds to grow crops in town. There’s also a community center that’s been run down for a long time, with quite a few mysteries surrounding it. It can actually be a little overwhelming at times deciding what to do next.
The only bad part is that time is not on your side (when is it really), not to mention the player has a set amount of stamina that you can use each day. So you have to be really strategic with what you’re doing and how long it takes you to do it. For example, anything that uses a tool, like chopping down a tree or breaking stones, uses stamina. The green meter on the screen will deplete each time you use the tool and, if you end up using all of the stamina, you will pass out from exhaustion. This really wouldn’t matter too much except that after passing out you lose some of your money, and some random items from your inventory. You can replenish your stamina throughout the day with fruit, vegetables and other tasty dishes that you can make in your kitchen, if you have the right ingredients. The player will also pass out if they stay up past 2 am. Time seems like it goes by pretty fast, until you’re waiting for something specific to happen (so lifelike!). You’ll want to get all your farming done during the morning hours so you can have time to do everything else. Once it gets dark, everyone goes home and the town is pretty deserted.
You’ll encounter so much randomness in this game with the dialogue and background stories. There are a lot of Easter eggs and secrets to be discovered as you progress. Something else that I really enjoyed about Stardew Valley was the customization that can be done with your farm. I didn’t even know until starting my second file that you could choose a different farm type besides the standard one, which was very cool. Once you clear out some space on the farm, you can have the town carpenter add new buildings to your farm which can be placed anywhere, and destroyed later on if you choose to change their location. You can craft fences, flower pots, machines that turn your produce and ingredients into higher quality items and A LOT more. It’s a good idea to look at some screenshots and check out other people’s farms to get some ideas for your very own piece of land.
Aesthetically, the game is pretty retro looking, like an HD Game Boy game that’s really detailed. It’s neat to see how the environments and scenery change with the seasons; everything is surprisingly vibrant and looks great. I also really enjoyed the cutscenes and character animations that played out. I only had one problem with the visuals and that was playing in TV mode. I don’t know if my eyes are sensitive or something but, after playing for about 30 minutes with the Switch docked, my vision started to get a bit blurry and it was uncomfortable to play for long periods of time. I enjoyed playing Stardew Valley so much more in portable mode (which my partner preferred as well :P) and in my opinion it just looks better on the smaller screen. I will warn you though; this was the first game since Breath of the Wild that had to warn me that my Switch battery was getting low. It’s a time-consuming game, so be prepared to put a lot of time into it to get the most out of the experience.
Stardew Valley is overflowing with content and the replayability factor is through the roof considering all of the different outcomes the game has to offer. There’s also a cool multiplayer feature being added with future DLC, so you can look forward to that as well. This has been one of my favorite games to play on the Switch and I’m so glad that Nintendo fans can finally join in on the fun. If you’re looking for a really in-depth game that’s going to keep you interested and coming back for more, then you came to the right place. Especially since this awesome little gem is only $15 on the eShop, and it’s worth all 1500 pennies. So grab your farming cap and ditch the big city for a one way ticket to Stardew Valley on Nintendo Switch!
Warning: Players may experience strong urges to play Stardew Valley while at work, with family or during other boring responsibilities. Pure Nintendo is not liable for any problems this may cause, such as losing your job or being disowned by your partner and children. Enjoy!
Review: Stardew Valley (Nintendo Switch)
The real challenge with Stardew Valley is putting the game down. Once you get started on this fun farming adventure, it’s hard to stop. Stardew Valley is also an awesome game to have with you at all times so portable mode is a major plus!