2020. Seemed to be the year that Animal Crossing brought “life simulator” proper to life (and selling loads of copies in the process), the thing is Stardew Valley, a “country life RPG”, has been kicking around for a while.
It feels that Stardew Valley has almost a bit under the radar compared to Animal Crossing, in that you won’t have seen Stardew Valley at the end of any supermarket aisles.
Bearing in mind the plot of Stardew Valley. Thats probably how it should be.
The thing is, beneath Stardew Valleys gentle – almost mindful exterior lays a lot going on, giving plenty of good reasons for kids and yourself to play and enjoy.
Firstly. The game is a huge sandbox of imagination. Imagine setting up a table with a model farm on. The table also includes a town.
A graveyard. The list goes on. But while the game nudges you in certain directions, what you do with your farm in Stardew Valley. Thats down to you.
Going back to the model farm analogy. The two player mode, kicks Animal Crossing into another island. Due to its split screen approach, you can both work on your farm together. Make friends, splat monsters, make money, go fishing, sit down at the pub. Together.
I alluded to it above, and I admit I’ve not finished the storyline yet, but there is a feel that big business are the bad guys. You see, the intro sequence features you. Working for a faceless corporation (which doesn’t at all look like Amazon), the decision to quit leads you to Stardew Valley to work on your deceased Grandfather’s farm. Oh and it seems that the same not-Amazon company have a shop there as well.
Are you going to shop for supplies there? Or your local yet smaller place?
Similar to Animal Crossing. Friendship is a big theme here. Here in Stardew Valley, friendships are built up by talking with and presents given. But there is also a feel of relationships between people subtly being played out with groups and alters attended, pubs used, and gatherings attended.
With a farm being the focus, it probably isn’t a surprise that there is an environmental focus at points, with discussions around food waste, rubbish in the river, and the option to make a recycling machine. (Which in turn can help make you money)
With running a farm, there is a budget to manage. This isn’t complicated. More money equals buying stuff. Don’t worry, you can’t go into debt, you just can’t do much. The thing is, when playing two player, there is a great chance to chat all things budgeting, particularly the argument of “Yes it costs money, but it will help make money”.
I could go on, but put it simply, if you get a chance to play it with your kids. Do.
Even if its just to sit by the sea, and enjoy the calm whilst fishing.
If you feel like embracing big business, you can find Stardew Valley on Amazon.
Listen to Zac and I chatting about Stardew Valley on the Skill Check podcast.