5 Reasons that Stardew Valley Is My Favorite Game Right Now


Standing next to a bear statue. It’s so big! Image by Toby Russell

Toby Russell, Editor

There are many different types of video games. Open-world games, first-person shooters, single-player story games, platformers– the list goes on. I’ve played many of these, but there’s one category of games that has always held a special place in my heart: sandbox and simulation games. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something about the limitless opportunities that this type of game provides. It allows you to spend hours creating your own world where you have nearly full control. That’s why I’ve always held such a love for Minecraft, a popular sandbox game.
In any case, recently my paleolithic roots have drawn me to the dawn of agriculture in the form of a different game: Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley is a simulation/RPG game where you play as a farmer. You meet and talk to the townspeople, explore the mines and forest, and unlock new areas as you progress, all while managing your farm full of animals, crops, and more. It’s loads of fun, and I’ve found myself more and more invested in it despite the limited amount of free time I’ve had recently. So, I’d like to share with you the top five reasons why I love this game so much.

While all of the offerings that Stardew Valley has for the player may seem daunting at first, the load is significantly lessened when you realize that there isn’t a time limit for when you need to do things. While there are significant milestones and things that happen as you go through the first few years, the game itself is endless. On my first playthrough, I felt very rushed; I tried to do everything in the first year. Instead of meeting all of my audacious goals, I got burned out and never even made it through year one. Now, I’m slowing down, enjoying the different seasons as they come, and setting more realistic goals for myself. Even more important is not to compare yourself to other players. There are those that speedrun the game, finishing the entire main story in mere hours. If you try and compare yourself to their pace, you’ll never be content. But, I find it great that you could speedrun the game if you wanted to. That just means that there are even more ways for players to enjoy Stardew. If you think about it, this advice applies to real life as well. Go at your own pace, it doesn’t matter what everyone else does.

Art Style and Music
Stardew Valley has pixelated, 2D graphics. But this doesn’t limit the game. While playing, you’ll be confronted with a palette of cozy colors that will rotate with the season. My favorite season is fall, when the world turns wonderful shades of orange and red. Even though it’s blocky, it’s beautiful. In addition to the art, the soundtrack of the game is wonderful. While sometimes I enjoy listening to my own music instead, the music of the game is perfect for setting a happy and optimistic mood. Even the sounds of the game are great; I’ll plant blueberries just to enjoy the satisfaction of their harvesting sound.

Right now, my main farm is the one that I play with four or five of my friends. A couple of times a week, we’ll get together and escape the worries of the real world by working together to make our farm. There are few things better than putting on some music and playing a game with your friends. Multiplayer also helps you to come up with creative ideas as you inspire each other with what to do in the game. While the game is certainly tons of fun single-player, multiplayer only serves to make the experience even more enjoyable.

Recently I’ve learned out more about the Stardew player base and community. On YouTube, there are several extremely passionate creators who make content about the game to share with their audiences. The videos are always very wholesome and fun to watch. In addition, Stardew players tend to be quite encouraging and friendly when it comes to asking questions about the game online. They also love to share and show off their farms and achievements with other players. One of the things about Stardew that makes it so unique is the creator, ConcernedApe, aka Eric Barone. He made the entire game– coding, art, music, and writing– all by himself in only four and a half years. In an interview, he said that he loves the game because it’s the kind of game that he would love to play. It turns out that it’s also the kind of game that thousands of people love to play today.

As I mentioned earlier, Stardew Valley is rich in so many different ways. Don’t really like farming? Go mining in the skull caverns and slash through the monsters within. Hate tending to your animals? Automate the system with machines. Not really into the whole crop idea? Go fishing. The game allows you to play it any way that you want. Even once you beat the game’s main story, you can enrich it even more with hundreds of mods (online user-created content modifications) that can add characters, locations, and more. Right now, I’m playing with mods that add a whole other village with its own set of stories, NPCs, and quests. The game, while still so simple in design, is so very expansive. There’s always something for you to enjoy, no matter your playstyle. And that’s the essence of what makes Stardew Valley so great– it’s for everyone.

Our crop fields. Image by Toby Russell