Video games are inherently a leisure activity. After a long day of work or school, many people just want to unwind and relax with a game. Many times, though, games make you feel more stressed out than relaxed. A game like Resident Evil 7, for instance, is full of so much tension that it’s hard to unwind while playing it. Other games, typically shooters, are so loud and abrasive that it’s often hard to relax while playing even if you do find mowing down rows enemies to be cathartic. Luckily, I have found one game that is truly relaxing while also being incredibly addicting – Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley is all about farming. Yeah, I know. Doesn’t sound like a game most people would be looking to dive into, but once you do take that initial dive, you’re immediately addicted. I had heard so many PC players talking about how addicting the game can be but I didn’t believe them until I had started playing it myself. During my first session of the game, I just kept telling myself, “Okay, just one more day. One more day.” Before I knew it, it was 2:00 in the morning and I had to work in 5 hours.
I think what makes Stardew Valley so addicting is the simplicity of its gameplay loop. It’s very much like Animal Crossing in the way that you have a lot of objectives to complete, but you can generally do it at your own pace. Maybe one day you decide to go into town and talk to all of the villagers, or another day you may decide to go fishing. The day after that you may decide that it’s time to curate your farm. There’s just so much to do in Stardew Valley and you can do it all at your own pace.
As you get further into the game, you’ll also begin to find that it starts to open up a lot more. New areas of the map will become available, new missions become unlocked, and heck, maybe you’ll even get married and start a family. I commend Stardew Valley so much for this because when you first begin to play it, everything seems fairly straightforward. After a few dozen hours in the game, though, you’ll find yourself still unlocking new locations and new objectives that keep the game fresh. This is part of what makes it so addicting. For all of the hours that I poured into it, not once did the game begin to feel stale.
Not only that but Stardew Valley is one of those games that you’ll feel yourself getting better at the more you play. When the game begins, you’ll feel so lost when it comes to some of the mechanics. You’ll wonder how you’re ever going to make money, catch fish, or grow your farm. Soon enough, though, you’ll be as good as Old McDonald when it comes to farming and you’ll have more money then you’ll know what to do with. It’s a slow burn learning the game mechanics in Stardew, but it’s an incredibly rewarding one.
If I were to have any complaints about my time with Stardew Valley, I would say that it still doesn’t really feel at home on the PS4. You can definitely tell that this game was meant to be played on PC. I think this is mostly in part to the cursor that you have to sometimes use to navigate on-screen. It’s often hard to maneuver with the right stick and just never feels normal. On PC, I’m sure this cursor works greatly but on PS4, it just felt awkward. This is such a minor complaint, though, and it will never hinder your experience with the game.
Lastly, I wanted to commend the game’s phenomenal soundtrack. In most games that you spend tens of hours in, the soundtrack will begin to get boring after you hear every track for the thousandth time. I never ended up feeling this way with Stardew Valley, though. The music in this game is incredibly relaxing and I think it’s a big reason this game feels so comfortable. It’s really one of my favorite scores I’ve heard in a video game in a while.
Stardew Valley is simple while being surprisingly deep. Its strengths lie in its gameplay loop that will keep you coming back for seasons on end. If a game about farming doesn’t sound enticing to you, I suggest you try to look past that and give it a shot. You’ll find that this game offers much more than you’d ever expect while also being the perfect game to unwind and play after a long day.