Stardew Valley: From Ordinary to Unique
For a long time I had avoided Stardew Valley because it seemed so ordinary. So dull. A farming simulator RPG. Where’s the fast paced action, the complex combat system, expansive world, deep lore? Stardew Valley has none of these but what it does have, has made it a game I deeply adore and cherish. What makes it unique is that it goes off the beaten path, takes the mundane and makes it enjoyable, something very few games have been able to achieve. The game likes to take it slow, there’s no adrenaline rush when playing but sometimes life can give me enough of that and all I want is a game I can sit back and relax to.
The concept of the game is really simple. Your character, tired of the city life, decides to take up farming on a piece of land left in his care by his Gramps. The objective of the game is to finish certain tasks to repair the community center. There isn’t really a true ending to the game since once the community center is repaired, you could still keep playing as a farmer. The game has various activities you can take up apart from farming — fishing, adventuring into caves for relics and minerals, courting your NPC of choice in game for their hand in marriage, raising farm animals. Every day, day after day, you wake up, tend to your crops and animals, socialize with the other people in town, maybe sneak in a bit of fishing or adventuring and go to sleep at the end of the day. But it’s the little things like the fact that the crops ever so subtly shake when they’re watered or that you can actually see your crops changing form and size over days, that make this same old routine so much enjoyable. And when festivals do roll by, the anticipation and excitement is so much more. I still remember my first experience of “Dance of the Moonlight Jellies”. The soft rustling sound of sea waves crashing onto the shore slowly fading into the melodic theme song of the festival as the jelly fishes emerge from the deep for one last performance, their glow in contrast to the darkness all around. Silence everywhere, everyone just watching the moonlit jellies, watching and enjoying this surreal spectacle. A day to be remembered and looked forward to in the coming year. Going back to the mundane, I could probably spend hours fishing, playing the same mini game before each hook, line and sinker reeled in the same set of fishes that the area had to offer. I could do it and I would do it because playing in the background of all this mundane stuff at all times is the fantastic music that Stardew Valley has to offer. Each season, each festival, each resident has their own unique tailor cut theme song. Talking about the music in this game is a whole other piece, lets just say for now that its like tuning into your favourite radio show and relaxing as you go about doing your daily tasks.
Its amazing how something so routine could be moulded into the masterpiece it has come to be widely recognised as. Games like this are possible due to the love and effort put into them by their creators. Concerned Ape is a very capable game designer and Stardew Valley is one hell of a game.