In the past few months I’d noticed that my girlfriend had gotten more and more interested in video games. She plays minecraft almost everyday and asks a lot of questions about the games I play. I wanted to play a game together with her but I find it hard to enjoy minecraft due to the lack of structure and guidance so I had to search. Then I found Stardew Valley.
Stardew Valley is a 2016 video game with a primary focus on farming. It was created by one man Eric Barone who created the game under the name ConceredApe. It was the perfect game. It was close enough to Minecraft for my girlfriend (you do crafting, building and mining) and it offered a slightly more structured game experience which I wanted. So I sent her the girlfriend reviews video on it and she responded saying it looked adorable before the video was over.
It took us a while to figure out what to call our farm. We threw around a few cute names but couldn't get something satisfactory. We landed on the simple name, Hilltop farm.
The first day went smoothly. We got our parsnip seeds and our tools and we got to work planting and clearing the debris around the farm. It was so quick and immediately clear what we had to do, it didn't need a tutorial.
The first five days were quiet. We planted our crops and met some of the townsfolk but didn't do too much. The only thing we constructed was a small stone path outside our house. I was already aware before playing the game that it has combat, different environments and seasons but I didn't look up guides. I wanted me and my girlfriend to have a pure no guides playthrough of the game where we figure out what we have to do by ourselves.
Over the next few days we attended an Easter egg hunt (which I won btw), found a haunted community centre and had a meeting with a wizard whilst on what I believe were shrooms. Stardew Valley has a lot going on. We also got a little cat who sleeps all day and does literally nothing to help but they are cute so I’ll give them a pass.
We haven't gotten that far into the game yet but we’ve got a bit of routine. My girlfriend goes around chopping wood, planting seeds and gathering materials whilst I fish. All I do all day is fishing. It’s wonderful.
Although the world is slowly starting to open up again as restrictions lift, people get vaccinated and we can finally see friends again safely, a lot of us still don't know what to do. We may still be trapped in a lockdown mindset of having no real schedule and few plans for the immediate future but that's where Stardew Valley helps. It gives you daily small goals to achieve and plans to put down for the future. It gives us structure.
This is especially true for couples who find it hard to make plans for the future. When you see your farm for the first time in Stardew Valley you can't help but let your imagination run wild of all the crops you can grow, little buildings you can make and plans you can draw up.
The game works because it works in the realm of constant small rewards, every crop and piece of material you sell gives you a little more gold that can go towards building the next big structure you want for your farm. There's no massive end goal the game sets in the first 10 minutes, the only goals in the game are those you set for yourself.
Me and my girlfriend haven't gotten that far into Stardew Valley but we log on every night to play an hour or so together and it's wonderful having something to look forward to every day again.
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