Everyone and their mother has played Stardew Valley by now, I suppose. I did too on a weird pirated copy, but now that I have some money on my hands I bought it when it was like 20% off to get all the updates and stuff.
It's a great game. The graphics and the music are very comforting, though I wish music would come on more often instead of the ambience.
It's basically an expanded clone of the original SNES Harvest Moon game.
It has really good gameplay-loops and cycles. They write that it's a "countryside RPG", but that's wrong.
Stardew Valley is in its heart and core a management game.
You're always trying to balance different resources and activities that all tie together.
You have a run-down farm, 9 turnip seeds and 500 gold on your first day.
It'd be pretty boring if you didn't have any goal besides "amass wealth", so you're tasked pretty early into the game with renovating the community centre. (Basically enforcing the narrative of a local business helping a local community.)
You can achieve this through two ways:
- You ally with the forest spirits who will take crops, goods and other things from you in exchange for renovating rooms inside the community centre AND they also rebuild structures that have been run down. (Bus repair, your greenhouse, the bridge to the quarry and so on.)
- You can ally with le faceless megacorporation that turns the community centre into a warehouse. they'll take money in exchange for the building fixes
The first option will have you create a farm that has diverse flora and fauna and is integrated with the community and its needs (having a diverse garden helps with getting friendly with the locals, and in turn it will help you advance faster).
While the latter option will have you create a garden based around mass agriculture where you're cultivating masses of a single cash-crop to be able to pay into the corporation's "development program".
Your main activities in the game are farming, foraging, creating artisan goods, mining, interacting with the locals and fishing.
Farming is pretty self explanatory. It's the centre-piece. Everything ties back into farming somehow.
You use your hoe to break up the land and then you plant seed and water them daily. After a set number of days, you can harvest the produce and sell it.
During the first 1-2 months you'll be selling your produce as soon as you have it to amass cash to advance.
Foraging is good early game, but it's pretty redundant once you have a good cash-flow. Basically you'll only need it to harvest wood for farm-side constructions.
But after a while you should start saving up at least some of your produce to process them. This ALWAYS at least DOUBLES the value of the crop. (Which is a good thing. It's really player friendly to have an economy where the more you work on an item the more its value increases. The player doesn't have to anxiously check the money flow.)
You can use this to make jams, wines, pickled goods and beer. Wines are the best, but they take the longest to make. Beer is also good because wheat and hops are easy to amass and they are processed in two days tops.
Basically by the end of the first year, your money should come mainly from processed produce like mayonnaise, jams, beer wine and fruit juices.
Your ability to process produce is capped by the number of crafting stations you have. (Kegs, pickling jars and taps on trees.)
There is also an option to keep animals around, which is good, because then you can use your harvested hay for something during winter. (In the other three seasons they eat grass, so the only thing you have to do is shave them, milk them and collect their eggs.)
Then you can turn eggs and milk into more artisan goods.
Mining is probably the second most important part of the game. You can go to the local mine to break up stones to get ores and gems. These ores and gems then can be used on crafting processing stations, construct building and making sprinklers.
Sprinklers help you automatise watering the crops to further increase productivity by allowing you to either plane even more crops or spend none of your time watering by having a small but automated garden.
Ores are also used to upgrade your tools, increasing their strength and area of effect. (Increasing productivity further.)
Gems also make good gifts.
Combat in the mines against mobs is pretty meh. It's at least functional. I only died once and the only punishment is time loss and some of your items being taken away.
You don't really have to actively spend money on weapons or armour (boos are the only armour), you'll get a new weapon or boot every 10 levels you go down the mine.
Ore supply is endless. Every time you visit a floor on the mine a random set of stones spawn, including ore veins.
So mining ties back pretty organically into your farming and you're constantly trying to balance the supply of raw materials with the capacity-cap and the ore supply to raise the production capacity.
Socialising is a good way to make money and earn the trust of villagers. You can give two gifts every week to every villager.
In exchange they might also give you gifts or teach your crafting recipes after a certain friendship level.
Having a good relationship with a bachelorette or a bachelor allows you to marry them.
Fishing. Fishing is... it's boring. I never liked fishing mechanics in games. Terraria has a fishing mechanic and I hate that too, mainly because it stands out like a sore thumb. In Terraria because you're just sitting around instead of actively fighting and the fact that it's not organically tied to your progression (you can complete the game without ever crafting a fishing rod, but it's kinda "necessary" if you want to craft a few of the more useful potions.) and here because it doesn't loop back into farming and takes up your valuable time.