Joseph Harper lives among the quietude of Stardew Valley and finds a place where even those with the darkest of hearts can find a place to be.
I love almost everything about the Steam gaming platform. I love feeling part of a community in the wake of a big, bolshie blockbuster release. I love the kind of boring but also good ‘ambient games’. But the thing I probably love more than anything is when some tiny little wisp of a game inexplicably climbs the charts and beats out massive Tom Clancy things. Such is the legend of Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley is a classic exercise in tranquility. Built with the immortal Harvest Moon in mind, Stardew Valley adds rpg and crafting elements to the small-town farming formula. You move to the Valley and begin turning your patch of land into a thriving farm. At the same time you’re encouraged to engage with the township around you. What seems like a charming and relaxingly repetitive game, reveals its sprawling roots.
The animation and design is clean and handsome. The farming and mining mechanics are satisfying. If you’re a hardout and want to go nova via crop analytics, you’re welcome. The rpg elements are nicely rounded too. In order to improve your tools you’ll have to venture into dangerous parts of the town and its underworld and kill bugs/ghosts.
But for my money, it’s the world of Stardew Valley is what makes it truly compelling. Your fellow townsfolk are occasionally weird and funny but ultimately very warm. There are all kinds of quaint and whimsical community activities to take part in. Ice fishing, little dances, courting rituals. It’s all there and it’s all good to me. There’s also the ability to get full on Thoreau by the Pond and live a quiet and introspective digital life.
There is no heart pounding action in Stardew Valley, but it’s lovingly crafted and there is enough depth to the game that I get the feeling I’ll continue reaping and sewing for many seasons to come.
Tho ye be lost in the dark abyss like a dildo thrown at yon minister of Parliament, know that Bigpipe has ye electronic communication needs all work out.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.