The indie farming sensation that is Stardew Valley embraces the Playstation Vita! The game takes on a lot of genres and somehow manages to blend them all together perfectly. The game originally released in 2016 on PC, then consoles. This was followed by the Nintendo Switch release in 2017 and now the Vita rounds it off.
Release Date: May 2018
Price: £11.99 and Cross-buy with PS4
Size: 341.06 MB
Genre: Farming RPG
Developed by: ConcernedApe
Published By: Chucklefish
Tired of your boring, monotonous city life our player character decides to move to the quaint, freeing environment of Stardew Valley. Here you’ll take over your grandfather’s farm and integrate yourself with the local community. There are so many little stories going on here, every character has an interesting backstory that you can flesh out. The story here is entirely your own though. You’re presented with a ton of options. You can totally focus on grinding out your farm and making money. You can head down the mines and fight your way to mineral riches. You can side with the evil faceless corporation of the Joja Mart, or help to redevelop the town community center.
The game will connect with you and totally immerse you in the setting. I felt real relationships with the character and genuinely enjoyed building my farming empire, because it was mine. There aren’t a lot of games that connect to you in this manner.
Stardew Valley is a grind. You’ll develop your farm, plant crops, water crops, harvest crops, sell crops, buy crops, repeat, go down the mines, get materials, craft objects, use objects, repeat, visit the town, chat to characters, build relationships, give gifts, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. But yet, it’s perfect. Every day is almost identical but so incredibly different. The grind never feels like a grind, it feels like honest hard work that pays off in game. When you make a fortune from a crop yield you’ll feel accomplished. When you unlock a story ‘heart event’ by developing a relationship it’ll feel earned. When you complete a side quest and conquer a section in the mines you’ll feel powerful. Every piece of hard work in this game, from fishing to collecting items, is rewarded in a way that makes the hard work so worth coming back for. Few games achieve this feeling of accomplishment.
The game is a mixture of genres that shouldn’t work but really do. It’s a lifestyle sim, a farming sim, an action RPG, a collectathon and more. It’s really in its own genre at this point. The town feels real, each character from popular Haley to gaming goth Abigail feel unique and organic. These come together best in two forms; town events and heart events. Town events are big occasions where everyone will gather, these include dances and festivals. The other is achieved by reaching a certain level of friendship through quests, gifts, and conversations. Eventually, you can even get married!
Combat is really as basic as it gets, though it works. It allows the game to remain accessible while also inviting some variety to the usually relaxed town life. There’s a strong sense of progression on offer as well. Starting out you’ll be watering all your crops daily, eventually through grinding you’ll have the equipment necessary to water them all with no player input necessary. Just relax and let your sprinklers get to work.
Graphics and Sound
The pixelated graphics are really clean. Elegantly simple and the Vita’s OLED screen helps them pop beautifully. Everything looks defined and the different graphical elements or assets on screen never blend together. The sound is lovely. The music chimes away in the background, never grating or getting annoying. It relaxes you right into the world. Actions like chopping down a tree sound exactly how you’d expect, you really feel every THUD thanks to the effect. This is the same for sword swipes and other interactions.
Stardew Valley is a brilliant example of how to offer a player the experience they desire. If you give this game a chance and put the effort in, it will be a truly memorable experience. You’ll literally get exactly what you put back in and it’s so worth putting a lot into. On Vita, the OLED screen brings the world to life but unfortunately, there are a couple of annoying performance issues. Any time it rains the whole world slows down, frame rate issues in combat are also an annoyance. Outside of this, it’s the same excellent game available on other platforms. If you ever enjoyed Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing then this is the definitive version of that genre.