Stardew Valley: Not Just a Farming Sim (A Review)

A little while ago we were browsing the various game stores for something new to play. When Googling some games, we came across a little game called Stardew Valley. Now, I will admit that I wasn’t really sold on the idea of this game, but it was really up Alex’s street so after watching the trailer and reading some reviews, we decided to give it a go. Initially we were going to buy it on the Nintendo Switch but instead we decided to go for the PlayStation version.

You start the game by creating your character. There’s a wide range of hair and clothing options that allow you to make a retro pixelated version of yourself. You also have the option of which type of farm you like, from a standard one, to one where monsters attack you, to a multiplayer one that allows up to four of you to live and farm on the same map.

After you’ve created your character and selected your farm, you’re introduced to the story.

The basic premise of Stardew Valley is that your grandfather has passed away and has left his farm to you. Your character then moves into this farm aiming to restore it to it’s previous success.

My thinking at the time was that it would be repetitive and boring and it would end up on a list of games that I thought were a good idea but couldn’t get into; I was very wrong.

As soon as you arrive at your farm, you quickly get into the calming chores of running it. Planting crops, watering and clearing debris and weeds, soon puts your mind at ease and for some reason starts to make you relax.

But Stardew isn’t all planting crops and waiting for them to grow; far from it.

The game is spread out over the four seasons, which have 28 days in each. Each season allows you to grow different crops and also provides you with different events in the town such as a Christmas-like celebration, dances and even a luau.

When you leave the comfort of your own farm, you find the nearby Pelican Town and it’s residents.

When you first get to town, people are friendly but some are wary of you. Through your playthrough you nurture your friendships with these people, by talking to them, giving them gifts and helping them with different tasks. This all sounds quite easy, but if you give or say the wrong thing to a person then your friendship will suffer, so it’s all about finding what each person likes/dislikes. The higher up your friendship level you are with a character the higher the chance that they will give you gifts that will help you with your farm.

Along with helping the residents personally, there is also a community centre that you’re introduced to early on in the game that you’re asked to fix. You can do this by either spending money and helping the evil JoJo Co, or collecting bundles of various items. Collecting the bundles is probably harder as you need to collect crops, mining items, fish etc which involves working hard through each season and delivering them to the centre, put the rewards are worth it.

On your farm you can not only grow crops but also raise animals. At a certain point in the game you’re able to buy coops and barns which are constructed by a citizen of Pelican Town. These building allow you to buy cows, sheep, rabbits, chickens, goats and other animals that you can then raise. These animals will then provide you with milk, eggs, and rabbits feet – the in game rabbits appear to be able to grow these back an unlimited number of times. The items you receive can be processed into other items that will bring a larger profit, for example, milk can be churned into cheese, Eggs can be turned into mayonnaise and so on. You’re also able to fish in various different water sources, like the sea, rivers and lakes, each source allowing different types of fish to be caught.

But, that’s not all. As well as being a farming simulator Stardew Valley is also a dungeon crawler. Pelican Town has a mine to the north which you can enter and harvest for rock, gems and ore. Each level of the mine has different items that you can mine, but be careful, while your mining you also have to watch out for bad guys. The enemies you face included slimes (which you can also raise on your farm with the slime hutch), bugs, and skeletons, to name just a few. The items that you find in the mine, can help you with building things on your farm, upgrading items and also bring in that all important money if you sell them. But, you should watch what you’re selling, some items are rare and can be put into the Pelican Town museum for rewards – everything is worth something to someone.

Stardew is more than all this. It also has heart. As you meet the characters and learn of their backstories you find out that this game isn’t as cute and smiley as you might think. Some of the residents have dark pasts, and real problems. I’m not going to spoil anything here, but there are some characters that you really start to empathise with and end up really wanting to help them out.

I can’t do a blog about Stardew Valley without mentioning Journey of the Prairie King. Journey is a game within Stardew that can be found at the pub by interacting with an arcade machine. This game is possibly one of the hardest game with a game games I’ve ever played. Basically, it’s a top down shooter where you have to shoot enemies until the timer runs out and your transported to another level. Sounds simple, right? Yeah, well…it’s not. It’s frustratingly enjoyable though as you play and want to beat it despite dying hundreds of times. It’s a nice little addition to the game and if you’re Stardew to get trophies it’s something you need to master for the elusive platinum as you’re required to not only finish this little game but to also finish it without dying!

All in all Stardew Valley is an excellent game. It’s several simple premises put together but as a whole they work brilliantly. I’ve played this game on some of my worst days, and the simple tasks of running my farm helped me through them and calmed my mind. This game is well deserving of its ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating. It’s a game that is always being updated to bring more into the world and the fact that the game was pretty much built by a single person – with some help occasionally – is no small thing. It just adds to how impressive the game is. I look forward to the next console update so I can create a new farm and see exactly what is has to offer.

I would say that even if you don’t like games like this or think it looks too cutesy, you should give it a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

The Next Stage; 100! (Bonus Entry)

It’s been a little under two months since The Next Stage released in Kindle and paperback form. Today it an amazing milestone.

It now has over 100 ratings on Goodreads, and every single damn one of them is ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It has now overtaken Creatures with number of reviews and rating average.

This, to me, is a huge thing to happen and something that I never even thought would happen. When it 50 reviews and they were all ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I thought that was amazing, but hitting 100 is phenomenal.

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I had started work on the second book in the series. I’ve done an outline, and I’ve already started writing -so far I’m up to just over 4000 words, so it’s slowly getting up steam. I think I’ve for a pretty solid story so I’m hoping it’ll follow in the footsteps of the first one and be something that readers enjoy.

Below are all the places you can pick up a copy for yourself along with the Goodreads page.

Amazon

Google Books

Apple Books

Lulu

Kobo

Goodreads

Thank you to all who have bought it so far, especially those that have reviewed it. I hope many more people will enjoy it.

5 Stars! (Bonus Blog)

I just wanted to thank everyone who has so far read The Next Stage. Especially those that have rated it on Goodreads. It now stands at an average of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ with 50 ratings. I can’t believe that it has gone down this well with people and you’re actually enjoying it.

If you haven’t yet read it, you can find everywhere where it’s available over on the books page of this blog.

By way of celebration of this I’m making it available for free on Kindle on Friday 11th December. If you would like it sooner on Google or Apple Books, let me know, and I’ll send you a promo code.

Thank you again. It gives me more motivation to continue with writing.

Dopey Words

First off I would just like to apologise if this doesn’t make sense or I start to ramble. I’ve just been put on some stronger painkillers for my hip, and well I’m kinda spaced out.

I’ve spent the majority of the day looking into more ways that I can deliver my books to you, the readers. I’ve posted previously that they’re now available not only on Amazon but Lulu and Payhip too. I’m also working on both Google and Apple books, I’m just waiting for approval.

I’ve been trying to price up different options for the best way to distribute. So far, due to my available funds, my options are somewhat limited. But one option I’m looking at is getting a bulk order of the paperbacks and then selling them on through this site; I don’t know if people will want that, but it’s worth a shot.

Basically, a lot of this has come about because The Next Stage as been receiving amazing reviews and so far hasn’t got anything below 5 stars, and I want to get it to as many people as I can.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread some of the reviews because it still staggers me that something I created and spent so much time on, people are actually enjoying, and enough to write about why. It’s an odd feeling, but it’s a nice feeling as @HorrorPaperBack said earlier on Twitter, it’s bewilderfying.

I’ve not really done much writing this week due to being in pain, but I’m hoping I can remedy that over the next couple of days as long as this new medication helps…it’s undoubtedly doing something right now.

As more selling options come up, I’ll continue to update and let you know where they will be available. But for now, check the “Books” page of this site to get your copy from where they’re available now.

Oh yeah, and I’ve also updated the links on the home page below my photo.