Why I love Stardew Valley
Why I started playing Stardew Valley
Games I enjoy playing the most are the ones that allow me to explore the virtual world, see new things, gather or find artefacts, build and craft things, but most of all a game that has a story element.
However, there also needs to be a sense of continuity and progress as you complete a mission, craft things, or build relationships.
I explained this to my brother-in-law once when we were talking about games and the aspects of games we enjoy the most. This is when he suggested I try playing Stardew Valley and boy was he spot on!
Why I’m still playing Stardew Valley
Different from another game I enjoy playing, Don’t Starve Together, I feel there is a sense of progress in Stardew Valley that makes me stay invested.
In Don’t Starve Together you can explore, gather and build things, but because your goal is to survive, you constantly need to either rebuild or fix things as the elements and creatures on the island try to kill you.
The progress you make feels futile, and maybe even pointless. Everything I could do creatively becomes unnecessary because at some point it will get destroyed and then you need to start all over again. This tires me out extremely quickly and makes me lose interest in the game.
I am also a person who doesn’t enjoy games with high levels of intensity, violence or combat. That might also be why I find the peacefulness within Stardew Valley much more comforting.
However, Barone accommodated players who like a bit of combat or games with some level of risk. If you are one of these types of players, you can go exploring in the mines.
In the mines, you will mine for valuable minerals, fight monsters and creatures, but there are no vital injuries you can suffer. You have a health and energy bar that can get depleted when the monsters attack you. However, the worst that can happen is that you pass out and need to pay a medical bill or sometimes lose some of your inventory.
Elements in Stardew Valley I love the most
I consider Stardew Valley a beautiful work of art. It is an artwork filled with interesting characters and meaningful stories, beautifully composed music and virtually pleasing graphics.
The element I love the most in this game is the storytelling aspect.
I just love befriending the townsfolk and roaming in and around the town, finding them at different places on different days and times of the day.
This really makes the gaming world feel alive and gives you the idea that the characters have a life of their own with their own backstory, pain, relationships and dreams or aspirations for the future. You learn more about these aspirations and their backstories as you build a relationship with each villager.
Players can do this by visiting a character, starting a conversation, finishing a quest for them or just giving them a gift. Like in real life, each villager has things they like or dislike and will respond to gifts differently. (You can find out more about the characters via the Stardew Valley wiki page.)
Once you’ve befriended a villager, they will reveal their backstories and dreams through their dialogue and little video clips the creator, Eric Barone, inserted into the game.
These video clips are like little Easter eggs, tucked away within the game. If you are at a certain friend level with a villager and enter a specific place in town, it triggers the video clip to play. I just absolutely love them. The video clip below is one of my favourite ones!
Sometimes you even have to choose between an option of answers on how you would like to respond to a question or situation. It can be to resolve a conflict situation between two characters or to encourage a villager to pursue their dreams.
It is also through these video clips that you learn about the town’s local business, how they are struggling because of JoJoMart and the Mayor’s desire to restore the Community Centre to its former glory.
Regarding the characters, even though there are a bunch of them I like and enjoy, if I had to pick three, it would be Robin, Leah and Penny.
Robin is the town’s carpenter and one of the first characters you meet when you arrive in Stardew Valley. She is also the person you need to go to if you want to build new buildings or upgrade any existing structures.
Robin is such a hardworking wife and mom – sometimes she’s even a bit of a workaholic as she stays up after 12pm on your farm hammering away. I think that is why I relate to her the most. Her determination to get a job done and the pride she shows for her creations is admirable.
Apart from that, she has such an interesting family and they live a little on the outskirt of the town on the mountain. Showing to me they might not always fit in with the townspeople.
Leah lives on the
outskirts of town.
However, she doesn’t live in a big house, but in a little cottage in the forest next to the river. When you visit her at her home, you will sometimes find her busy working on a wooden sculpture. It also becomes very clear that she admires Robin’s craftsmanship with woodwork.
Leah also spends her time drawing or painting. She will either be busy painting inside her home or you will find her drawing in the forest or on the beach.
There are two events, video clips, I enjoyed experiencing with Leah. The one is a conversation you have with Leah while she is busy working on a sculpture. In this conversation you learn that she moved to Stardew Valley to start a new life and pursue her creative career. This scene is an example of where you have to decide between multiple dialogue options. Ultimately, your answer will determine whether you want to encourage Leah to continue with her art or not.
The other event, linked with this one, is an art exhibition Leah launches in the town square – showcasing all the sculptures she made. I enjoy this scene, because of the story and growth of the character and the creativity of the sculptures she made.
Then there is Penny. Dear old trustworthy Penny. She is one of the sweetest villagers in town. Living with her mother, Pam, in a trailer in the middle of the town. She lives a tough life since they are poor and her mother is a very heavy drinker.
I love Penny for her caring heart. Despite everything her mother does, she cleans their home, cooks, and tries to take care of her mother. She is also the tutor of the only two children in town, Vincent and Jas, since there is no school in Pelican Town.
Penny loves teaching these two children and wants to empower them through education so that they would have more available possibilities in their life. Something she never had.
The video clip I enjoyed having with Penny is when she takes Vincent and Jas on a field trip into the forest. Since I was passing by and since I am a farmer in the game, she asked me to give a talk about nature and answer some of the children’s questions.
In getting to know the villagers and other characters, it is hard not to notice a series of serious social issues Barone addresses within the game.
This is also mainly done through the elaborate backstories of characters, their dialogues and the short video clips.
Not to give too much away, but Barone intrudes a variety of the following topics:
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Physical abuse
- Mental Health
- Death and loss
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- The sustainability of the environment
- A minimalistic life
- The power of relationships, community and connectivity.
- Creativity and the power to express or celebrate who you are.
These themes are the core elements of the game because they add so much depth to the characters, their stories and to the player’s experience of it.
I love how Eric Barone has woven these and many other themes so effortlessly within his game. Unfolding it bit by bit, allowing the player to develop growth with the characters as they get to know them and giving players the opportunity to reflect on similar situations present in their own lives.
Concerned Ape’s hit farming game reminds us that people have big problems, even if they live in little townsNadia Oxford
Events and Fesitvals
Along with the villagers’ weekly schedule, their backstories and the themes present in this RPG, the Events and Festivals in Stardew Valley really contribute to the real-life feeling Eric Barone wanted to create. They do this by indicating and creating the feeling of time passing.
There are nine different festivals that take place in each Stardew Valley year;
- In Spring you have the Flower Dance and the Egg Festival.
- In Summer you have the Luau and the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies.
- In Fall you have the Stardew Valley Fair and Spirit Eve.
- In Winter you have the Festival of Ice, the Night Market and the Feast of the Winter Star.
I love the festivals! They are these beautiful, creative and colourful scenes coded into the game. Showcasing the different seasons as the environment changes and through the decorations of each festival.
While I enjoy most of the festivals, my absolute favourites are the Flower Dance, the Egg Festival, the Dance of the Moonlight Jellies and the Night Market.
The Flower Dance
The Flower Dance is such a beautiful, idyllic spring celebration. The event takes place close to the end of Spring on the 24th of the month in the far west of the forest passed the Wizard’s Tower.
During this festival, you can dance with one for the bachelors or bachelorettes in town. In order to do this, you would need to go around and talk to each of the villagers and ask them if you can dance with them. If you are not well acquainted with them, they will reject your request. However, if you find a partner to dance with, you can go to the Mayor and he will start the event.
This is when a little short video clip will start to play with all the participants lined up for the dance. The dancers are dressed in fancy clothes and while the dance is taking place, a sweet, joyous song plays in the background.
The reason I love this festival is mostly just for the visual aspect of it. The happy Spring colours and cute dance scene at the end. It makes me really feel that Barone created aspects in the game not just out of necessity, but because he wanted to create something beautiful – just for the sake of beauty – and I love it!
The Egg Festival takes place on the 13th of every Spring in the Town Square. This festival feels more like an old type of video game since your avatar takes part in an egg hunt.
This means you and other villagers search for small coloured eggs hidden around Pelican Town. The villager, Abigail, is especially good at finding the eggs, but if you find nine or more eggs, you will win the game.
Winning the egg hunt the 1st time will reward you with a straw hat, then the following years after you will receive 1000 gold as a prize if you win again.
I love the interactiveness of this event and obviously the challenge of trying to find more eggs than Abigail.
The Dance of the Moonlight Jellies
This event I purely love because of its aesthetically pleasing visual effects.
The premise of the event is basically you and the villagers gather at the docks on the beach on the 28th of summer to watch the migrating jellyfish who are attracted to the light of a torch that Mayor Lewis lights.
The Midnight Market
Different from the other festivals, The Midnight Market takes place three nights in a row from the 15th – 17th of winter and the time in the game continues to pass as normal.
I really enjoy this event because each night isn’t the same. There are little subtle changes you can enjoy; like different villagers showing up on different nights and different goods you can buy at the gipsy wagon.
Features at the market that I enjoy the most is the Mermaid Show and going down into the ocean with a submarine to catch deep-sea fish.
The visual aspect of the game during the seasons and festivals are defiantly one of the things I love the most in Stardew Valley. Barone really created such a beautiful work of art with all the little details he had put in.
Then lastly, the musical component of the game with which Barone ties all the elements together to create the peaceful feeling of a slow-paced life in nature.
I love the soundtrack! It possesses the same cute, idyllic feeling presented with the visual artwork of the game, which complements each other very well.
In my previous article on the art within Stardew Valley, I mentioned the reason Barone created his game. He wanted to create a game where players could escape from everyday life, experience the peacefulness of someone living close to nature.
Listening to the Stardew Valley Soundtrack makes me feel calm and I can easily forget the time that passes while I play. Helping me to really unwinded from a hard day at work.
It also makes me feel inspired to create and live a colourful life, like the villagers. Therefore, I believe Stardew Valley to be a powerful work of art!
Do you want to start playing Stardew Valley?
If you are interested in playing Stardew Valley or if you’d just like to watch others playing it, I recommend checking out the following Stardew Valley Twitch Streamers and YouTubers: