Despite the fact that many games have been created in this genre, many of which have had critical and commercial success at the highest level, farm simulators have become truly massive with the release of Stardew Valley in 2016. inspired by works like Harvest Moon, but perfected the edges in such a way that they seemed really special. Knowing what makes this genre great, and revealing its best qualities, it sets an awfully high bar for any new game and has become a favorite game for farming fans all over the world.
The development cycle of Stardew Valley differed in many ways from other games in this genre, but although it is an indie game by design, the depth of its mechanics and the quality of writing could deceive players into thinking that it was created by Studio AAA. Visual effects are the only real reward, but the gorgeous pixel graphics make the presentation much more attractive than, for example, the half—baked aesthetics of Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. The latter was developed by the industry titan and familiar farm simulator, Marvelous, and yet it is Stardew Valley that reigns supreme in the ever-evolving genre.
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A city to be proud of in Stardew Valley
Although social aspects and interesting dialogues with non-player characters have already been used previously in other farm simulation games, they were improved when players began to learn about the inhabitants of Pelican City. After getting to know the eccentric cast of eclectic characters, it soon becomes obvious that a man or woman who grew up in the city moving to the countryside is far from the strangest thing that happened in this area. The townspeople are accompanied by many strange races that make the background of the Valley of the Star Dew truly unique, even if it has similarities with cities such as Mineral Town and Olive Town from the “Harvest Moon” series.
This is a fun, unexpectedly deep component of the game. A significant part of the game day will be devoted to watering crops and finishing livestock, but there will always be enough time to explore the area, meet new friends or love interests and really leave a mark in the city. The Stardew Valley area is not only a quaint place with charming villagers, but also a deep combat dungeon in mines, fishing on any of the local all—terrain vehicles or lakes, as well as places to find food, resulting in a city that doesn’t feel like an afterthought. In many ways, Stardew Valley is primarily a social simulator, as the fun farming mechanics of the game often fade into the background.
Farming simulator by profession
As is the case with many simulation games, there are usually two points of view. On the one hand, some developers are trying to recreate the magic and authenticity of what they are trying to imitate. This is no more obvious than in Microsoft Flight Simulator, Assetto Corsa and Farming Simulator. Another approach is to take the essence of what an activity is and present it in such a way that it is fun, repeatable and constantly attracts attention. This is the side Stardew Valley falls on, the side it shares with games like Forza Horizon and Star Wars: Squadrons. There are games that bridge this gap, but Stardew Valley is far from what farm care really looks like, and so it gives new non-farmer players a reason to give it a shot.
Adherence to the design philosophy is one of the best features of Stardew Valley, as it allows the game to flourish according to the parameters it sets itself. Stardew Valley doesn’t require too much, as the combat system is incredibly simplified, and planting crops in the ground requires no more than pressing a button. It never seems cumbersome, and since real farming is certainly far from fast, Stardew Valley is very different from what it’s trying to model. In fact, it’s still a video game, and therefore the most important thing is a pleasant gameplay, of which there is plenty in it.
The AAA space has its share of farming simulators, and while Stardew Valley lacks some important trading features, it shines because its game mechanics never interfere with its quest for fun. Although Harvest Moon has a much more legendary history, and the Farming Simulator series is more like the source material, Stardew Valley is still a game that many other companies should take an example from.
Stardew Valley is now available for Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One.