Internet! Hello, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and gee willakers… or whatever. So normally this is the time of year where I sit back and write some sort of Christmassy thing about how much Christmas movies suck, or why I hate Christmas songs that don’t make sense (Hi, Wonderful Christmas Time) but this year we’re gonna do something different, something better. Something… something entirely un-Christmas related!!
A Day in the Life: Stardew Valley
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to dust off the tiny, unused corner of this website that is the Video Games section and talk about a game that is literally the last thing I ever expected to be actually enjoying. A game about… well not much, frankly.
So Stardiew Valley starts off as most games do with you making a character. As I knew this was a game where you played a farmer and a game where people would be saying my name a lot, this bore some serious thought. So after much thought I went with the name David Pumpkin as tribute to what is inarguably Tom Hanks’ greatest contribution to film. This (regardless of the rest of the game) has brought me no end of joy. “Thanks, David Pumpkin!” “Look, it’s Farmer David Pumpkin” “Of course I won’t go to the spring dance with you, David Pumpkin.” These are the sweet sweet moments that bring me joy… well except for that last one. Which really did happen.
Anyway, once I completed making David Pumpkin, I learned that at the outset of the game David Pumpkin was nothing but a worker drone, at an office with no light or happiness, desperately pining away the hours of his life… … Sorry, what we’re we talking about… got real depressed there for a second. Oh yeah, David Pumkin (tee-hee.)
So I learned that upon passing away my grandfather had left me his farm in a little place called Stardew Valley. And so shedding the shackles of the corporations I left my job and moved to my grandfather’s cottage and began my work on Pumpkin Farms.
When you first step into your farm you literally have no idea what anything is at all. Ever. Someone hands you some parsnip seeds and some tools and tells you to go and make some money, David Pumpkin! So you do what you can, you plant your seeds, you water your seeds, you talk lovingly to your seeds, and promise them a brighter future where someone definitely won’t cook and eat them. You wander through the town, meeting your neighbors and listening to them slowly change from faceless drones to real characters. Pumpkin farms slowly spread out from parsnips and into cauliflower and peas and kale because no one knows what kale is really good for but they will pay a LOT of money for it let me tell you.
Honestly, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all of the things you can do in Stardew Valley. There are 4 seasons to this game every year and I’m not even through the first season, but I’ve already got a chicken coop, a kiln, and a crippling need to be loved by a bunch of very poorly pixelated townspeople who (to be clear) mostly hate me.
There’s nothing like crazy revolutionary about Stardew Valley but what it does incredibly well is just be relaxing and engaging. It’s very relaxing because I mean… you’re a farmer. You’re not a farmer who fights aliens in Washington DC or a farmer thrust into battle with a dragon, you’re just a farmer. You wake up every day and do your chores, grow your crops, talk to your neighbors, maybe collect some ore from the mine, or try and get Leah from next door to acknowledge your existence!! It’s all the simple pleasure of farming, without actually having to… ya know… work on a farm.
The other thing it does really well is the “one more day” factor. “Well” you’ll think to yourself. “My cauliflower should be ripe tomorrow, I’ll play one more day so I can sell those.” And you do. But then you say to yourself, “Well… if I get 50 more wood and some copper, I can make a tree sapper and get some of that sweet sweet syrup in me! I’ll play one more day…” And so on and so on and so on. And so on.
Final thoughts: For both me and my wife, Stardew Valley has been a great experience (for just 15 dollars on the Steam Store.) Life gets super stressful around the holidays and our lives have been nuts lately even beyond that so it’s been just really great to get to sit together for a few hours after a long crazy day and just talk and laugh and try and get the parsnips harvested in time. It has been a fantastic game, creating a fantastic time, where we can escape from our troubles and chill out on Pumpkin Farms, with the legend that is: David Pumpkin.
And there you have it guys, a video game post… cause those are things we do here. Check back in on Thursday as I make one last desperate attempt to get into the Christmas spirit and write about Christmassy things.