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Stardew Valley's coronavirus mod finds dark comedy in the pandemic

Nothing else is allowed

We have generally avoided posting about things that exist in the intersection of "games, things that are enjoyable and we love" and "the global pandemic, a thing which is terrible", mostly because this intersection is quite weird and grim. I am, however, making an exception today in order to highlight a mod that adds both a slight pandemic slant to Stardew Valley, and a good dose of much-needed humour.

Though Nexus Mods user kingliamb's coronavirus mod was first uploaded in May, I only stumbled across it the other day thanks to a post in one of many Stardew Valley groups that I follow. All it does is add a few face masks to the hat mouse's hat shop - you can see my farmer modelling the blue mask up there - and some very occasional mentions of coronavirus to NPC dialogue. I think that's why it works. The whole thing is in such stark contrast to the Stardew world, but its deadpan implementation means it circles back around to being funny.

The dialogue, you see, is so occasional that despite installing the mod, I haven't run into any of it yet. Everyone is just talking about how much they like autumn, like they do in normal Stardew Valley. Sample dialogue from the page on Nexus Mods includes the dramatic Haley saying "Oh my gosh. Emily sneezed today. Ugh, I'm going to die today," and Emily saying "Haley is a picky eater. It's so hard to cook for her. And she won't shut up about the coronavirus either."

An image showing a dialogue box from Linus asking the player to check on them every two days to make sure he's not dead from Stardew Valley's coronavirus mod

It just seems so true to how the village would react to the pandemic in real life. Like, talking about cranberries, and having to add an "And, yeah, fuckin', the virus as well" on the end. The juxtaposition of the mundane and bleak. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on a whole host of factors, but I read some of the dialogue out on a team call and ended up in tears of laughter.

kingliamb has stopped updating the mod due to their own health (unrelated to virus), though they had tentative plans to add hand sanitiser and a quarantine. I think, though, that gamifying it to any further extent would push it back into the grim territory mentioned earlier.

The other possibility is that I have finally cracked and no longer have any grasp of what is actually funny. Example: I am still going all in on hens in Stardew, and so this was my stall for the festival:

I laughed at my ALL EGG ALL THE TIME display, out loud, by myself, for some time. I also started singing "Mayo mayo, you're made of an egg" to the tune of Rebel Rebel by David Bowie.

That's a gold star egg in the middle, I'll have you know. Came third. Not bad.

Stardew Valley is a favourite here at RPS. You can find it on our lists of best RPGs, best co-op games and best management games for pc. If you've just started playing and want a cheeky head start, check out our Stardew Valley cheats and console commands, and we can keep you up to date with Stardew Valley news on the latest free updates and mods.

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