Stardew Valley, the indie farming simulator, is finally available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and it’s something every gamer needs to have in their arsenal. It’s the perfect combination of Harvest Moon, Minecraft, and ‘80s gaming nostalgia. And what’s more, it’s a video game that will basically never stop growing. It’s basically the perfect living game.
Stardew Valley first came out in February on PC after developer Eric Barone (under the name Concerned Ape) spent several years putting it together. That’s right, the entire game was created by one man, who continues to make changes and updates to this day. After seeing the final product, you almost expect that to be some rumor started by a PR company. Because the game feels way too big for one person.
In Stardew Valley, players take on the role of a former city worker who moves to the country to start a new life on their family farm. The premise is simple enough, but Stardew Valley’s not just about growing vegetables and trimming trees. In fact, there’s a huge array of opportunities in the game. You can raise livestock, fight evil monsters, mine for resources, make friends with the town’s colorful characters. If you’re inclined, you can even get married. Look out for Pam, though, as she might have a drinking problem.
Every person has their own way they like to play Stardew Valley, which is exactly how the game is meant to be experienced. I’m all about growing a ton of cauliflower in the spring until I build up a healthy piggy bank, and then I buy livestock because I like giving them stupid names (my chickens are named after 30 Rock characters). But others prefer to try their hand at fishing, or complete community center side quests to get special bridges and seeds. There are even those who deign to play as their own evil twins, sharing tips on how to be a total jerk without technically killing anyone since people and animal deaths are a no-no.
Crops don’t grow when the player isn’t actively playing, which is a major advantage over FarmVille, but the game is never static. It’s always changing. Stardew Valley moves through all four seasons, with different harvesting and foraging options available depending on the time of year. Plus, Barone continually makes updates and changes to the game, all of which have been free so far. In October, he added a major update that introduced new farm maps, crops, equipment, and even divorce. That one’s gotten a mixed response, because it basically Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds your ex into forgetting you were ever together.
Possibly the biggest bonus is the game is only $15 — yes, even the console version. That’s practically a steal for the dozens of hours you’ll milk out of this thing. Of course, given the fact that it’s all done by one person, there have been notable bugs and glitches. For example, I’ve had the console version kick me out a couple of times right before it auto-saved for the “day.” Barone’s already released some patches for the console games, and continues to work on smoothing out the rougher edges.
There are even plans to bring Stardew Valley to Nintendo Switch once the new console is released in March 2017. But for anyone on a PC, Mac, Xbox, or PlayStation, there’s no reason not to have Stardew Valley on one or more of these platforms. It’s a game that you might only buy once, but can become a lifelong companion.