Hit farming sim comes to disc
Following its highly successful digital release last year, the indie game sensation Stardew Valley has arrived on disc. Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition, available on PS4 and Xbox One, is the ultimate way to experience this game on consoles. Inside the box you get a copy of the game, the soundtrack on CD, a mini-guidebook, and a fold-out map of Stardew Valley!
For diehard fans, it’s an amazing opportunity to get your hands on the game plus rare limited run bonus items. For newcomers who have been thinking about checking Stardew Valley out, you’ll get a phenomenal game with awesome exclusives. As one of the best indie titles in recent years, I highly recommend you give it a try!
Leaving city life behind
Many of us at some point have likely dreamed about having a fresh start, whether that’s changing jobs, moving away, or both. Stardew Valley‘s story taps into those relatable feelings.
It begins with your character having toiled away for years as an office worker for Joja Corporation. Tired of the daily grind, he/she (you can choose) reaches into their desk to open a letter from their deceased grandfather. In it, you discover that he’s passed down his farm in Stardew Valley. Without hesitation, off to start a new farming life you go, leaving the hustle and bustle of city life for good.
A new farmer in a new city
Stardew Valley often gets compared to the Harvest Moon series, but the game really is much more. Yes there’s plenty of farming to do, but you’ll also spend time meeting neighbours, exploring caves, and learning the secrets of this rural land. It’s part farming sim, part life sim, and part action role-playing game all wrapped into one.
Perhaps the best part about this game is how there’s no right or wrong way to play. You can simply play the way you want and enjoy it at your own pace. If you want to spend all your time growing cauliflowers, starfruits, and yams, you can do so without anyone telling you otherwise. On the flip side, if exploration and combat are more your thing, there’s plenty of that to do as well. You can even focus your time on finding that special someone, including the potential for marriage and kids.
Learning to be a farmer
Once settled in my new home, the first thing I did was tend to my farm. It’s in pretty rough shape initially, overrun with boulders, weeds, sticks, and trees. To contend with this, you’re given a full suite of basic farming tools, including an axe, hoe, scythe, pickaxe, and watering can.
As you smash rocks into pebbles, and chop trees down for lumber, there are two constraints you need to monitor: energy and time. All farming actions consume energy, and if you overwork yourself exhaustion will set-in. Mild exhaustion slows down your movement speed, but continue to work and you could collapse on the spot. This sometimes results in the local JojaMart calling a medical team to rescue you, resulting in a punitive monetary fine.
You also need to keep track of time, which progresses in 10-minute intervals every 7½ seconds (so an hour in-game passes in 45 seconds.) You can work until 2:00 a.m. every day, at which point your character will pass out. Also, you need to be keenly aware of how seasons work: each lasts 28 days and has its own unique crops, fish, and foraging items. Crops can only be grown during specific seasons, and each type take a certain amount of days to harvest. That means you need to allow ample time for slow growing crops, otherwise they’ll wither when the next season arrives.
It might sound like a lot to manage, but it never gets overwhelming. There’s no pressure to make money or grow certain crops—you can develop your farm as you see fit.
Meeting the townsfolk
Right next to your farm is Pelican Town, a place full of interesting characters for you meet (or romance). They all have different personalities, some warm and friendly, while others can be outright hostile. What’s interesting is you’ll soon realize there are many social dynamics at play, including secret crushes and residents with bumpy pasts.
To improve your relationship with each villager you can offer gifts (especially on their birthdays), or take on mini-quests. Making a villager happy earns you “hearts,” which can result in them opening up to you or mailing you gifts. After a while you can propose (including same-sex) leading to marriage, and eventually kids (biological or adopted). Like all systems in Stardew Valley, whether or not you pursue relationships is completely up to you.
Exploring Stardew Valley
Early on, Stardew Valley likes to hint that there’s much more to the adventure than meets the eye. While the game begins innocently enough, surprises can be found around every corner. You might find a run-down building mere steps from your home and have no idea why it’s there. Perhaps you see children playing by a sewer when a scary monster inside startles them. Or you could stumble upon a wizard’s tower that seems wholly out of place in this rural setting.
If you want, you can ignore these and other mysterious elements in the game almost entirely. However, take the time to investigate and you’ll be richly rewarded with new characters to meet, new side quests to take on, and helpful new items to discover. So much intrigue is bubbling beneath the surface in Stardew Valley, and that’s a big part of the game’s appeal.
Mining and crafting
Early into your adventure, you’ll get introduced to a mysterious mine rumoured to contained hostile creatures and precious ores. This adds the third element to manage (on top of energy and time), your health. To protect yourself in the deadly mines, you’ll get equipped with a sword, though there are more weapons to discover later on.
While again it’s completely your choice to explore the mines, doing so comes with hefty rewards. Defeated monsters can drop monster loot, saleable for money, and there’s an abundance of rare gems and ores to find. These can be donated to the local museum (in exchange for rewards), or used as crafting ingredients to expand your farm. The latter of which can make a huge impact on your farm’s efficiency.
As your farm grows larger, so too does the burden of work. To ease the pain, through crafting you can create items, such as sprinklers, to automate some of this manual labour. You’re also able to upgrade your farming tools, including stronger pickaxes to break down larger rocks, and better hoes to till more soil. All of this is possible by venturing deeper into the mines to excavate stronger and stronger ores.
As you can see, mining can help your farming immensely. This is turn lets you grow more and better food, which you can use to replenish your energy and health in the mines. Everything you do in Stardew Valley is interconnected, giving you a rewarding sense of continuous progression.
Collector’s Edition bonus items
As a diehard fan of this game, the physical extras in the Collector’s Edition are a huge bonus. Here’s a summary of what’s included:
- A copy of Stardew Valley for Xbox One or PS4
- A disc containing the Collector’s Edition Soundtrack featuring 33 hand-picked tracks
- Exclusive fold-out map of Stardew Valley, illustrated by Kari Fry
- A Mini-Guidebook created by the artist and author of the full guidebook, Kari Fry
Getting the entire soundtrack on disc is awesome, as this chiptunes-inspired music sounds like it came straight from the SNES golden era. The map and mini-guidebook are very useful resources when playing, and they also showcase more of the game’s colourful 16-bit artwork.
Whether you’re a new or returning fan, you won’t want to miss out on the amazing extras in this edition!
The Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition, available on PS4 and Xbox One, is a charming, relaxing, and rewarding experience. From its beautiful retro 16-bit graphics, to its toe-tapping soundtrack, to the abundance of things to do, it’s a grand adventure all the way through.
I love that it’s open-ended, allowing you to focus on the activities you want, and ignore the rest. There’s no pressure to complete tasks either, it’s a game that progresses at your pace. All considered, Stardew Valley is at the top of its genres, and one of the best indie games to ever hit home consoles.
+ Bright and colourful 16-bit graphics
+ Heartwarming story
+ Cheerful chiptunes soundtrack
+ Fun to develop your own farm
+ Mining is satisfying and rewarding
+ Plenty of mysteries everywhere you go
– Controls are occasionally clunky
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.4/5 (88%)