Stardew Valley: My 2020 Escape

Stardew Valley cover 1

While I know that the majority of gamers took to Animal Crossing: New Horizons as an escape from their year in 2020, I escaped mine in Stardew Valley. Stardew Valley was a game I had wanted to jump into for some time, and I finally took the plunge last year. Needless to say, it was exactly the kind of solace I needed.

Many of you may already know what Stardew Valley is. It has been out for a while now and you can play it on virtually any platform. My platform of choice was the Nintendo Switch. It was just the perfect place to experience this game, as I enjoyed both handheld and docked mode.

Stardew Valley on paper, is a lot like Harvest Moon or Rune Factory. It certainly shares elements from the farming sim genre but it is so much more than that, too. Its beautiful 16-bit graphics are breathtaking and a tribute to games from that era.

You inherit your late grandfather’s farm and immediately begin your life in Pelican Town At first the farm is a wreck, but with patience and hardwork you can have it up and running in no time. You’ll be able to plant seasonal crops, raise livestock, go mining in dungeons, and build relationships with all of the townsfolk. There are a few individuals in town that are also available for relationships.

Stardew Valley screen 2

Now, everything about this game is just perfect. The soundtrack is fantastic, changing with every season and immediately adding so much depth and heart to the game. The cast of characters is phenomenal as well, with each and every single person being unique. They all have their own stories, all of which you will see unfold as you spend time with them.

You have a few skills that you can raise by performing certain actions. For example, your farming skill will increase whenever you plant crops or take care of your animals. At the end of each day you’ll be given a report of how much money you made, and if you leveled up any skills.

There are a few things you’ll want to accomplish within the first two years on your farm, however if you are late it is okay. The first is the community center bundles. In the center of town there’s an old run down community center filled with places you can turn in certain items. As you do, it will restore sections of the center to its former glory.

This will encourage you to explore each and every aspect of Stardew Valley as it will ask for items from each activity you can do. Completing that is no small feat, but trust me it is absolutely worth it. It will help further your relationships with the townsfolk, and unlock some really neat stuff afterwards.

You’ll also want to make sure you have some solid relationships, make it to the bottom of the mines, make lots of money, donate a bunch of items to the town’s museum, and work on selling every kind of item. If you make enough progress with all of this and more, your grandfather’s spirit will approve and you’ll be rewarded handsomely. Now, he’ll visit at the beginning of your third year but if you need more time than that, which I did, you can have him reassess you at any time.

Stardew Valley trees

So, there’s a bit of time management involved but nothing you can’t accomplish later if you need to. That’s nice because this game is ridiculously relaxing and sometimes it can just be nice to sit back and relax.

Now, I love a good farming sim, but for me Stardew Valley truly shines in its townsfolk. As you build your relationships with each one of them, you’ll start to see cutscenes of them that really flesh them out as characters. There is so much love and passion pouring from everyone in Pelican Town that it is difficult not to want to work to see everyone’s story.

On top of that, you really start to feel like a part of the town, and even feel like you’re bettering the town by being there. You’ll help so many of the townsfolk through hardships, strained relationships or family problems. You’ll begin to be an intrical part of the town and the lives of everyone there.

I still visit my farm from time to time and play a few in-game days at a time. The creator, Eric Barone, actually just released another free update recently that adds a ton of new features that I am dying to check out. He created this entire game on his own and his dedication and passion show each and every time I play Stardew Valley. You should definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

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By Dakota Deitsch

I love all video games but primarily enjoy RPGs. Pokémon is my favorite franchise, but I’ll play any game really. I tend to game on PlayStation and on my Switch the most.