Switch version tested
Don’t call it Harvest Moon.
You’ve grown weary of your mundane desk job and long for change, suddenly recalling a special letter you promised to save for dire circumstances such as these. Paper clips and copy machines turn to potato seeds and fertilizer. There is no boss or instructions, live however you choose and make the most of each day. This is your life – what do you want to do with it?
The most frustrating portion of the game, but it gets better in time and introduces an exciting element. Press the action button to cast and gauge how far you send the lure using the distance meter. The controller will vibrate once a prize is hooked, don’t be fooled by the distracting sounds that may cause you to press the action button again. Another meter will appear if you’ve got a bite, keep the “reel in” bar over the lure as it jerks up and down. Match the two for long enough to fill the meter and behold your catch. Lakes, rivers, and the ocean contain a variety of fish, creatures, and trash. Each has a different purpose but bring profit in some way or another.
Stardew Valley is a generally friendly place, but enter the mines and it’s every man (or woman) for themselves. Health and energy both play an important role with combat and looting. Use the money from farming to upgrade weapons and rings for an advantage against bats, slimes, and whatever else lives in this abandoned hole. Keep a clean inventory to collect all sorts of minerals to donate to Gunther at the museum.
The player is given the order of which the tools are to be used, and the training wheels are removed. Plant and harvest the crops that match your need for money based on how long they take to produce the goods. Seeds can be purchased or made from recycled crops via a machine that can be crafted in the pause menu.
A full day in-game is about seventeen minutes depending on how late you keep your character up. While playing, this time can pass quickly with chores and objectives being done. Short days require commitment in order to complete what is set to be done. At first I really disliked the short days but it kept me coming back for more. “Okay just one more day” was what I would say before going to bed, as I couldn’t put the game down.
The player can choose to be male or female and have the option to befriend and marry a neighbour. Giving gifts will boost any friendship, and you can take that to the next level if you wish. A list of neighbours with empty hearts is shown in the pause menu. Two gifts per week can be given to each neighbour. I used the wiki page to find out the best gifts to give people and my eventual Wife. Events and cutscenes are affected by the relationships built with others and keep the game interesting in day to day tasks.
Stardew Valley is a small town where no one is a stranger. The townsfolk come together every season for an event that will allow the player to speak with everyone, gather a backstory to those people, and obtain items solely from those events. If you missed your chance, better luck next year.
Harvesting the fruits of your labour is glorious. Watering crops every day to bring cash to your dumpy farm pays off with each day. Upgrade your house to provide for your family, add a barn to bring animals into the mix, craft machines to increase the sell value of your food. You have many choices on a daily basis that will change the way you progress through each season. Plan a long game of crops that take fourteen days to mature in a twenty-eight day month, or plant some potatoes that take a mere six days. Animal produce, fishing, and mining are all other options to make that money as well.
I’ve put ninety hours or more into this game. I came for the art style but stayed for the gameplay. This game impressed me beyond the bounds of what I thought it could, and even made me start a second farm. Yes, it forced my hand. There are six different types of farms to choose from at the beginning of the game, each with a different challenge or approach. Hello replayability and goodbye real world. This is the only game to bring me close to the hours I’ve put into Breath of the Wild, which is one hundred twenty.
Don’t can it Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley makes a name for itself by the fantastic visuals and quality gameplay that will keep you playing for hours. There’s a reason it stays atop the charts on the eShop and I can’t recommend this game enough.
TBG Score: 10/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 05/10/2017
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: RPG, Simulation
Download link: eShop