We tend to focus only on the big console releases with our meta-reviews, however, it feels necessary to highlight a very special PC game that I, myself, have recently become addicted to: Stardew Valley. A spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley puts you in the shoes of disgruntled office worker who decides to leave his dull workplace to become a farmer in the eponymous locale. The game was designed by one person, Eric Barone, and his labours have not gone unnoticed. The game is getting great reviews. Here are just a few of them:
CGM: Developed by one man—ONE—Stardew Valley is everything I had always wished Harvest Moon would be when I was growing up with it. […] Stardew Valley takes many of the best elements from Harvest Moon and mixes them with some of the finest RPG mechanics of the SNES era—all put to splendid 16-Bit graphics and a truly wonderful soundtrack. Stardew Valley has been the most rich and heartwarming experience I’ve had in a game in years, and when the multiplayer gets patched in at a later date, I’ll be ready for it to absorb even more of my time—only then, it’ll be with friends! (9.5/10)
Destructoid: There is so much to do in this game. I haven’t even brought up crafting or cooking! Even after an in-game year and over forty real-world hours, I still have things to look forward to each and every day. Whether it’s working on restoring the community center, trying to make a decent buck, helping the townsfolk, or working on optimizing my farm, I know I can always be doing something. Did I mention that one person made this? One person made this. Stardew Valley is a game that keeps on giving. There is so much I haven’t even explored yet that has my giddy for the future. The core mechanics and relaxing aesthetic merge so well together that players will sink in to the experience and never want to leave. (9.5/10)
The Escapist: Usually, when we play the latest installment of our favourite franchise and discover that it sucks, there’s not a lot we can do about it (besides complaining on the internet). Eric Barone, dismayed that his beloved Harvest Moonseries had become progressively worse over the years, decided that complaining wasn’t good enough, and set out to make his own take on the franchise that didn’t suck. He spent four years developing Stardew Valley entirely solo, building everything from the art, to the programming, to the sound. Taking inspiration from games like Terraria and Minecraft, Barone has developed not just a good Harvest Moon game, but a unique blend of genres that is fantastic in its own right. (9/10)
God is a Geek: Anyone familiar with the Harvest Moon series will feel right at home with the opening sequence of Stardew Valley. You begin as a young adult deciding to abandon the big city for a small town in the country, inheriting little more than a patch of dilapidated land, a “crusty” cottage, and a set of rusty old tools from your late grandfather. Not only is this premise much the same as Harvest Moon, but with its 2D cutesy art style, it looks very similar as well. Despite a few frustrating issues when it comes to relationships, Stardew Valley is a highly addictive love letter to the Harvest Moon series with some welcome additions and a wide range of activities to keep you interested.
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