First Impressions - Stardew Valley
May 27, 2016

Stardew Valley is another one of those games that the internet could not shut up about. It didn’t quite dominate my feeds the way Undertale did, but for the longest time I couldn’t really understand the appeal. Indeed, anything that generally looks like Farmville doesn’t pique my interest.

To be fair, there’s more to Stardew than just watering plants every day (Though there’s plenty of that). It’s an incremental time/resource management game, where you balance certain activities on a daily basis. I only have so much “energy” for a given day that can be boosted through food items, but it mostly just comes down to “What should I prioritize for this one day?”
There’s a lot of games like this on the internet, except all ‘energy refreshments’ are in the form of micro-transactions.

The game does a good job of sucking me in but I’m not completely sure if I enjoy it. The first hour was a great impression and then the next three was the creeping feeling of “I’m not DOING anything.” It got a bit better when I discovered the mines, which opened the way to get tool upgrades which will, in time, significantly boost how quickly I can progress. Until then each day was mostly dedicated to “Water some plants, go pick up some corals, go sleep”. Those three things encompassed a solid 3 hours and I was starting to get bored… Until the mines.

So the game is highly incremental in every sense of the word. You start small and build your way up, with a fair bit of grinding. Not to mention a lot of running, which pads the gametime a bit as you run all the way from your farm to various shops.
I can also feel that it’s almost designed to be addicting, as you have something you need to do every day. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Meanwhile, the game is sitting on a massive “Overwhelmingly Positive” reception on Steam and I’m not sure why. It’s pretty good. There’s plenty to do for 15$… But I don’t see how it’s a game changer.

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honestgamer honestgamer - May 27, 2016 (11:17 PM)
Stardew Valley doesn't look like a game changer at all. It's rather clearly modeled after the Harvest Moon games, which date back to the SNES. And yet, for that reason, it looks really good to me. Those games have been popular for years for a reason. My wife loves them. When I have a little more money to spare, I'm almost certain to wind up with Stardew Valley myself... though I'm not sure when I'll find time to play it.
Zydrate Zydrate - May 28, 2016 (12:37 AM)
It's a time-eater, that's for sure. I blew 4 hours on it without really realizing it.
Nightfire Nightfire - May 28, 2016 (06:49 AM)
I think it's considered a "game changer" because it blends so many genres. Yes, there is resource harvesting, money, crafting, etc., but there's also an undercurrent of a meaningful story, tons of unique characters and some adventure game elements thrown into the mix. I can't confirm that every aspect works together perfectly yet because I haven't played too much of it (yet), but I was pretty impressed with what little I saw.

I stopped playing it though, partly because I didn't have the time to sink into it, and also because it does have one teensy tiny element that I utterly hate in video games, and that is its time limit. Everything in the game is timed, everything happens on a specific schedule, and your character just kinda plods around slowly and you quickly figure out that hardly anything is available to do at the times when you're actually there to do it. It kinda reminded me of Majora's mask that way (which was one of my least favourite Zelda titles).

When playing Stardew, I also get paranoid that I'm missing things. How do I know that little cool secret things aren't happening in certain places on certain days and times? Do I want to look up a guide to spoil all of the magic, or do I just keep going and stumbling blindly? Maybe that's just my OCD, but it kinda bugs me a bit...

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