As RPS’ resident agricultural specialist, I feel that it’s my duty to inform you of Stardew Valley – but not for the reasons you might think. You see, my illustrious farming career didn’t begin with existential breakdowns among paradoxically lifeless fields. Oh no. Once upon a time, I tilled soils in far more colorful lands. Say what you will about its squat race of doe-eyed denizens and console-rooted nature, but Harvest Moon was kind of revelatory. It paired gradual, intoxicatingly tangible farm growth with human relationships to wildly compulsive effect. So now someone’s basically shoveling Minecraft’s exploration and customization on top of those things, and my mouth has morphed into a viscous waterfall of desire. Which is also the name of my upcoming Soap Opera. But anyway, details after the break.
I still have no idea what Stardew is, but here’s how the game works in a nutshell:
“It’s up to you to choose your path: Will you devote your time to raising crops and caring for animals? Will you spend time in the local village, befriending the local townspeople? Do you get a kick out of slaying dreadful monsters in the mysterious mountain caverns? Or will you try to accomplish everything and claim the coveted title of Stardew Hero?”
You accomplish all of this by gathering resources and building your farm as you see fit. Meanwhile, the mountain caverns are randomly generated, so who knows what you’ll find? (Hint: the answer’s probably monsters.) Characters and towns, however, are more set in stone, and yes, you can get married! Because come on, we all know that was the best part of Harvest Moon. Well, that and cows.
There’s also RPG-style character progression, archaeology, fishing, cooking, and crafting. Oh, and four-player co-op, which I’m extremely curious about, given all the NPC relationship stuff. (Can I ruin a marriage? Can I become a notorious cattle rustler? Etc.) So basically, it looks to be quite a sizable little game – even if it sounds like it should be preceded by the words “crisp,” “refreshing,” and “environmentally friendly can of.” Stardew Valley will apparently be out “soon.” Has it cultivated your excitement?