Stardew Valley: Cozy Times on the Farm

I’m not much for going outside these days.

I enjoy putting my pale, lumpy butt on display during vacations a few times a year, but mostly I’m the type of person who prefers to be cozied up in my tree.  There’s no denying, however, that the few times I go on walks or runs, or even just walking to and from my car, it’s lovely to take in our beautiful world sometimes.  Whether it’s a beautiful Illinois sunset, some interesting cloud formations, a crystalline sky of stars, or even a peculiar looking tree, observing the world around me in tiny doses feels enriching.

…and then I go back into my tree.  My comfortable little den; padded with band and sports posters, all my precious silly junk in one little apartment bedroom.  It’s how I like it, but I still want to know the honest life of outdoor living; I want to taste the noble life of farming or ranching.  Who wouldn’t want to explore caves and maybe slay some monsters?  Who wouldn’t want to meet a wizard?!

Wait, what was that?

Yeah, those last parts aren’t exactly things just anyone can do, but WAIT – yes you can!  In what has been the most fun 40-odd hours I’ve poured into a game in a long time, you can accomplish all of this stuff in Stardew Valley!

You can Google around to read the wiki to get a thicker grasp of what Stardew Valley is, but I’ll simply tell you my adventure so far:

  • I inherited an old swath of farmland from my grandpa.  After abandoning my lifeless office job in the city, I whisked myself away to Stardew Valley, a small town full of comforts, mysteries, and hidden adventure.
  • Spring Year 1 was a crapshoot of guessing how the game was played while constantly consulting the StardewValleyWiki.  Planting turnips had to be done on Day 1, but where?  I had to hoe the ground, plant the seeds, and water them.  Check.  But man, there’s trees, grass, logs, and rocks everywhere.  I need to clear all that stuff out.  I got maybe 3 trees done and my energy bar was spent.  Oh god.
  • After getting a ton of wood from chopping all the trees, I got a hot tip that I should go to the beach and repair a small bridge, so I did that.  The other side of the beach opened up to this tiny island and there were shells, urchins, and corals laying around that would net me some immediate bitchin’ income.  We’re in the money now, folks.
  • With some minor income I was afforded the opportunity to skulk about town getting to meet the AI characters that populate Pelican Town.  I have decided to ignore them almost entirely.
  • The Mine!  I finally found it buried up in the northeast corner of the map, and it’s such a welcome element to the game after days of tedious farming and resource gathering.  The mobs aren’t all too threatening but the mini-game of finding the stupid stairwells down to the next level is extremely tedious.
  • By the time winter comes around I’ve gotten an okay amount of money from crops (blueberries are off the charts) and spent a LOT of time in the mines, getting all the way to level 120.  Exploring town and the valley, I finally decided to re-layout my farm and get to know a villager.  I decided that villager would be the Wizard.
  • The Wizard lives in a lonely little tower on the forest west of town.  Sounds like my kind of friend, plus he’s a wizard, which is awesome.  I gave him a bunch of gifts and got to know him more, and after some research discovered that his rumored daughter Abigail lives in town.  I will officially now try to do him proud and marry her.
  • My farm is presently kicking ass in Summer Year 2.  Churning out a respectable amount of crops, I’ll hopefully end the season with $40-65K in remaining funds and spend the winter making friends, romancing Abigail, fishing, and once again prettying up my farm.  Life is good.

Waking up every day to tend to my chickens, see if the crops are ready, check the trees and bees for honey/sap, and talking to the villagers is all extremely comforting routine.  It reminds me a lot of Papers Please with dashes of Crypt of the Necrodancer, Animal Crossing, and of course Harvest Moon.

The SNES-style graphics with flashes of the HD/modern sparkle make it a wonderful example of how to graduate a dated art style into a current medium.

When I was a little kid on the playground of Mark Twain Elementary, I’d sometimes take my puffy winter jacket and pull up on my waist a bit, bring my neck and arms inside of it, and pretend I was an owl inside of a tree.  It’s hard to describe so I did a drawing:

As you can see, I was basically just inside of my little dark coat, all snug and warm.  Also I probably looked like a complete weirdo to the other kids on the playground, but whatever.

When my friends and I would play with action figures or Legos my thing would be building houses or bases or basically anything where my guys would live.  They’d almost always be small or relatively hidden places where they could return to their life of seclusion after their latest adventure had concluded.

That’s my favorite thing, I guess.  That’s why I’m friends with the Wizard.  That’s why I love Stardew Valley.  I think.

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