Review

Stardew Valley Review

  • First Released Dec 31, 2014
    released
  • PC
  • PS4
  • NS

Reap what you sow.

On the surface, Stardew Valley is a game about farming, but there are more adventures awaiting curious players beyond cultivating a rich and bountiful garden. From mining and fishing to making friends and falling in love, Stardew Valley's Pelican Town is stuffed with rewarding opportunities. As modern day woes give way to pressing matters on the farm and within your newfound community, Stardew Valley's meditative activities often lead to personal reflection in the real world. It’s a game that tugs at your curiousity as often as it does your heart.

Your journey begins in the field, cleaning up a neglected and rundown farm. Plotting and planning your garden requires care and attention to detail. What fruits and vegetables do you grow? How much room does each plant need? How do you protect your crops from nature's troublemakers? You learn through practice, and while the basics are easy to grasp, you quickly need to figure out the best way to outfit your budding farm with new tools and equipment.

Upgrades help speed up essential tasks like tilling the earth and watering your plants, but advanced equipment becomes a necessity when the time comes to break down large rocks and stumps that stick out in your garden. The crafting menu also entices you with optional time-saving tools; automated sprinklers that water the crops every morning, artisan equipment to make preserves or beer out of your harvest, and refineries, such as a furnace for turning ore into metal bars. If you want something, you can make it, you just have to scour your environment for the necessary components.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

As your farm improves, you gain the ability to raise livestock. Animals are expensive to buy and maintain, and the barn they live in isn’t cheap either. You start small, with a barn just big enough for a few chickens and ducks. But if you run an efficient and bountiful garden, you can eventually afford to upgrade to a bigger barn and keep hearty livestock like pigs, cows and sheep.

You have to feed your stock every day, which can get expensive, but they will eventually begin to produce eggs, milk and other rewards for all your hard work. Beyond their monetary value, animals are simply endearing to be around. Give them a name and work a little petting time into your routine; before you know it, your commodities have become your friends. Like your crops, the goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

The goodies livestock produce give you a sense of accomplishment, but their companionship is a different yet equally valuable reward.

When your farm is healthy and your equipment set, Stardew Valley opens up and your routine expands: after you water your plants, feed your animals and tidy up in the morning, you get to head out in search of adventure and friendship. There’s a mine north of Pelican Town with a seemingly endless bounty of buried treasure, but also danger. Combat is simple--a plain swipe of a sword will brush back most common monsters--but the dangers you face grow as you delve deeper into the mine, pushing your basic tactics to the limit.

There’s a risk/reward relationship to seeking out valuable treasure, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to defend yourself from procedurally generated creatures the deeper you go. You hit checkpoints--in the form of elevator stops--every few floors, which both encourages you to keep going and to return in the future in search of grander rewards as checkpoints allow you to skip past the mine's early levels. The precious gems you find can be sold for profit, donated to a museum that will conduct and share research, or simply hoarded in a chest to be fawned over down the road.

When you grow weary of toiling underground, you can also spend time fishing on lakes, streams and coastal beaches. Fishing in Stardew Valley is straightforward--you use one button to reel in a fish and let go when the line is tense--but it gives you a chance to soak in your surroundings and experience the joys of catching a wide array of fish unique to specific seasons and locations. It’s a calming experience at sunset after a long day that gives you a chance to reflect on your progress and daydream about adventures to come.

Stardew Valley constantly encourages you to explore, be it mining, foraging for fruit in the woods, or collecting seashells, and your curiosity is amply rewarded. Every hidden area you find, every train track you follow, leads to new sights and discoveries that add detail and color to the world around you. Yet as fulfilling as farming and exploring are, visiting Pelican Town's community center pulls you ever deeper into your new life. Like your farm at the beginning of the game, the community center needs a little attention at first: you’re sent out on fetch quests to gather the necessary materials to fuel its reconstruction.

Outside of the community center, the rest of Pelican Town's inhabitants also need your help. In working together to achieve small goals, you grow to understand your neighbors' personalities and identify what makes them tick. Some are pursuing their hopes and dreams, while others fight day to day to overcome personal obstacles; others are quirky creatures of habit that round out the community's overall identity.

Relationships are gauged by a heart meter, and getting to a certain number of hearts results in a cutscene that offer a closer look into your new friends' lives. Offering gifts and completing tasks from a board in the center of town are easy ways to increase your connections, and slowly but surely you’re allowed in the inner circle of people’s otherwise private lives. You may befriend a father named Kent who’s dealing trauma after years at war. He’s working on his temper and trying to bond with his child after being away from home. The child, whom you meet in hiding in his parent's basement, is quiet and introverted. But when you put the time in to get to know him, he reveals that he actually doesn't mind being alone, even though he believes that he's at odds with his parents. These personal moments are touching, and encourage you to spend more time getting to know the people around you.

And if you decide to enter Pelican Town's dating scene, don't be surprised if you end up with butterflies in your stomach. Giving your crush the right gift and seeing the joy on their face makes you genuinely happy, but you have to put yourself out there first. Sure, working with townsfolk in general is a good way to understand the ins and outs of potential suitors, but no amount of preparation diminishes the impact of anxiously delivering a heartfelt gesture. Because you've invested so much time and energy into forging relationships, you get nervous when you expose your feelings, regardless of the fact that you're courting a pixelated crush. Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings: when your date shares his umbrella in the rain, you know he's the one.

Through strong writing and characterization, Stardew Valley stirs up surprising feelings

Romance often buds during community events that take place each season. In spring you’ll attend a dance and try to get someone to be your partner. At the summer luau you’ll have to bring something delicious from your harvest for the community potluck. At each of these events you’ll have time to get to know the people within the community and see them in a different light than usual. Although it’s lovely to see them outside of their usual activities, it’s a shame year after year the comments and actions of the villagers remain the same. Still, you can learn from previous years, adding better food to the potluck and finally earning the affection of your favorite dance partner.

Mastering farming and earning the affection of your special someone in Stardew Valley are fulfilling journeys filled with surprising and rewarding challenges. But when you have those accomplishments under your belt, it's hard to know where you go from there. Divorce is an option, but if you put a lot of yourself into finding a spouse, dumping them merely to extend your game doesn't seem like an attractive path. Besides, with your money-making farm, cash isn't a concern either.

No Caption Provided

Ultimately, Stardew Valley's eventful world is so inviting that you may opt to simply start from scratch and forge a new life. For anyone who played Stardew Valley earlier this year when it launched on PC, the new console ports capture the same magic that made the game special all those months ago, and allows you to play from the comfort of your couch. Controls on console are essentially identical to what you get from the PC version's controller support. Console versions also get the fully updated version of Stardew Valley, which includes the aforementioned divorce option, new farm maps that focus on different skills, and a handful of new mechanics that add appreciable wrinkles to life on the farm and about town.

The sheer number of things to accomplish in Stardew Valley can keep you interested beyond the original three in-game years you need to reach the end of your story--you may just want to start over rather than continue on. You’ll work quite hard to gather enough money for your first horse, so that you can quickly move to the mines to get a mineral to complete a bundle at the community center. It’s all centered around whatever it is you want to accomplish that day. And that’s truly what makes Stardew Valley such a lovely experience, it encourages you to go out and be the best you can be, in whichever task that brings you the most joy. Stardew Valley motivates naturally, with blissful optimism.

Editor's note: After further testing, GameSpot has updated the score to reflect the Nintendo Switch version of Stardew Valley. - Oct. 6, 2017, 2:17 PM PT

Back To Top
The Good
Farming is simple yet satisfying
Large variety of rewarding pursuits
Fulfilling romance system
NPCs offer touching dialogue and compelling backstories
The Bad
With ample money and a spouse, motivation to keep playing dries up quickly
9
Superb
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mary played Stardew Valley for more than 100 hours across PC and PlayStation 4. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy of the PlayStation 4 version.
231 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for royais
RoyaIs

Good game, had a blast with a bunch of my friends with online multiplayer! Would recommend to friends looking for a game to play over the holidays.

Avatar image for PinchySkree
PinchySkree

Yes I remember this game from when it came out over a year ago

Avatar image for Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

is there a Switch physical version of this?

Avatar image for syllvanas01
syllvanas01

the chick in the second screenshot is one hot farmer girl

Avatar image for naasum
naasum

this game got a 9 from gamespot before the launch.

Avatar image for forester057
Forester057

I came here to confirm Mary Kish was the reviewer and yes I was right! She's a sucker this kind of game. Love ya Mary but admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Love, your daddy ;)

Avatar image for syllvanas01
syllvanas01

@forester057: LOL good one

Avatar image for senator990
senator990

Girlish game for girls to give it a precious 9.

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

Still not nearly as good as Harvest Moon.

Avatar image for chillingnaire
Chillingnaire

@saturatedbutter: *its better than most harvest moon games.

Avatar image for Yams1980
Yams1980

i havent played Stardew valley, but my favourite Harvest moon was back to nature on the PS1.

I'm gonna try this game out at some point and see how it is.

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

@Yams1980: Go play Friends of Mineral Town instead. it's a Gameboy Advanced remake of Back to Nature and is pretty much perfect.

Avatar image for Yams1980
Yams1980

@saturatedbutter: amazing, thanks. I had no idea they remade Back to nature

Avatar image for csward
csward

@saturatedbutter: Hmmm I'd have to respectfully disagree. Of course there are so many Harvest Moons, so I'm not which one in particular you're referring to.

My favorite Harvest Moon is the PS2 one where the Farmhand asks you if you want to run the farm your Grandpa gave you. If you say no, there's this whole cut-scene of the old farm hand being all sad and you get a game over and go back to the title screen. Nice troll Natsume lol.

Avatar image for jcwainc
jcwainc

Hey u lazy pos one the game is way over rated just like under tale. Ugh what u people see in these games says how bad future gaming is headed. I for one don't want these these types of games to me there lame and boring and steal from past games instead of paying respect to them. Like some lame fan fiction. 2nd this person doesn't work for u any more this is not a review it's a rehash. U shouldn't miss lead people game spot. She works for twitch - Mary Kish

Mary played Stardew Valley for more than 100 hours across PC and PlayStation 4. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy of the PlayStation 4 version.

Avatar image for pyro1245
pyro1245

@jcwainc: hahah it amuses me that this upsets you so.

Avatar image for swimbearuk
swimbearuk

Sounds like another game that provides too many chores to do. I don't like chores in real life, and I have too many to do already, and if I want to look after a garden then I'll go outside.

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

@swimbearuk: it's literally a life simulator game. What do you expect?

Avatar image for phili878
phili878

@saturatedbutter: I had no idea that attaching some bag around a tree trunk and get medicine out of it can happen in real life.

Avatar image for SpiderLuke
SpiderLuke

@swimbearuk: That's what your brain tries to tell you. Then you play it and realize you've sunk a couple hundred hours into it.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0
Itzsfo0

@swimbearuk: To each their own, I dont want to go outside to plant a garden thats even worse. Doing things like chores, sports, and landscaping much better in a game, no physical exertion. But everyone is different, if you look at anything as a chore (then that is most games). Part of life, doesn't bother me. I never minded cleaning, vacuming, dishes, laundry, yard-work...so grinding a bit in a game cant be WORSE, so....(1+1=2) thats my mentality...but some people would be terrified at the idea of a farming sim. Like I hate sports games, I see no point to REAL sports, much less a sports title, but one may argue that fact. Again to each their own. I'd rather do a simulation of daily life then....throw a ball at something. Racing sims, farming sims, next will be sex-sims (even more of a grind, skirt-chasing). Life is grinding, life is work, life is chores...get used to it.

Avatar image for MashedBuddha
MashedBuddha

@Itzsfo0:

Oh the sex sims have been around for quite some time. There are plenty. I've been running a web site about it for 17 years.

Avatar image for jakespot
JakeSpot

@Itzsfo0: what??

Avatar image for horosavinXX
horosavinXX

@jakespot:

My thoughts exactly. I cannot comprehend how muddled yet utterly wrong and pointless this comment is (@Itzsfo0).

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@swimbearuk: Well, the real thing is certainly more fruitful - pun not intended.

On the other hand, can your garden grow out of season things and completely different plants next to each other?

Avatar image for jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Day one purchase for the Switch. I have it on PC already but I've been itching to play it again and held off hoping for a Switch version. That day has finally come. The Switch makes buying indie games really weird. I like indie games but at the same time indie games for the most part work best on a portable console. Now I never quite know what indie games to buy on PC because I don't know if they'll ever have a Switch version released later on.

The only complaints I can really throw at it is that for being a tile-based game that isn't isometric, the diagonals on the joystick have too much of a presence. I often miss trying to hit things when using the joystick as it feels too sensitive so I find myself using the joystick for just walking around and then using the d-buttons for more precise movement. That and some of the text is ridiculously small and hard to read on the Switch screen, like how many items you have of the same type in a stack.

Avatar image for erceze
erceze

Wow the graphics really suck in this, as bad as Minecraft even, in fact it looks more like something from 1985 than 2017, it's really disappointing. 1985 called, it wants it's graphics back!

Avatar image for Bastion00
Bastion00

@erceze: I think you meant 1991. Also go away. Thank you.

Avatar image for chillingnaire
Chillingnaire

@erceze: Thats what i say when going from PC to consoles.

Avatar image for pyro1245
pyro1245

@erceze: 1985 is dead. It doesn't want anything.

Avatar image for SirNormanislost
SirNormanislost

@erceze: 1985? i bet you wasn't even around till the late 90s if you think that

Avatar image for csward
csward

@SirNormanislost: Gosh, this is probably closer to SNES era, maybe PS1, because the game may have been too big for a SNES game. Still I would like better graphics too. Maybe for Stardew Valley 2.

Avatar image for MigGui
MigGui

@erceze: You do know that pixel art is a design choice, right? It's meant to look old-school, it's the whole point.

Avatar image for Itzsfo0
Itzsfo0

@MigGui: He's being sarcastic...or (he really is that retarded) he either 1) just crawled out from under a rock and hasn't heard of "indies" or "retro indies" or "pixel art" OR 2) hes just being a troll trying to elicit a response/bait a response. Either way does it matter ? these games are popular (and sometimes have more soul) then the big AAA games...(I love both types) but...eh to each their own. graphics are fine.

Avatar image for Byshop
Byshop

What was the old score?

Moderator
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Byshop: A "9" too, if I recall.

Really, that Editor's Note passage is a copy-paste thing.

Avatar image for saturatedbutter
SaturatedButter

@Gelugon_baat:

LIES.

I want to believe Mary Kish is back again. Don't rob me of this joy.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

This is like the Dark Souls of farming games.

Avatar image for beirutchamp
beirutchamp

@girlusocrazy: ZERO DEATHS

Avatar image for mattcake
mattcake

So this is back in the news because the Switch version has just released, despite there being no mention at all about the Switch in the "updated" review? Did I miss something?

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

@mattcake: Exactly my thoughts.

Avatar image for MashedBuddha
MashedBuddha

@marticus:

Yeah I tried. I wanted to like it. I see the appeal. I used to look at it and think, even though it is "overwhelmingly positive" on Steam, I don't think I'm going to like it. But $15 and I feel I got my money's worth by enjoying it for half a day before losing interest. Maybe it's the lack of imminent danger or truly build your own shelter and survival aspects of similar looking games (Terraria, Craft the World). Yes I know this game is a different animal, but shares a lot of themes. The farming was neat at first, and the characters cute, but I couldn't keep grinding/playing.

Avatar image for Celiria_Rose
Celiria_Rose

@marticus: Welcome to farming games. The grind to an extent is part of the point. You get in a routine and get a zen going with the games charm and it turns into a time sink to just play and relax without thinking to hard.

Avatar image for X1-Bot
X1-Bot

This girl is really pretty. It makes me want to try this game. God I'm shallow

Avatar image for barbyfn
BarbyFN

What a wonderful game, like Darkest Dungeon, Grim Dawn, Pillars of Eternity... are like tales made with love to the detail.

Today most triple A games feel the same 1st-3rd person corridor, sold trough marketing that tells you what you must play, while good games are what you want to play.

Avatar image for CyberEarth
CyberEarth

Dat Fector's Challenge tho...

Avatar image for Sarymbo
Sarymbo

I haven't logged into Gamespot in years but I needed to say that this is one of, if not THE most unique and refreshing game reviews I have ever watched. For any game on any console.

Stardew Valley More Info

Follow
  • First Released Dec 31, 2014
    released
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 7 more
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Xbox One
    You've inherited your grandfather's old farm plot in Stardew Valley. Armed with hand-me-down tools and a few coins, you set out to begin your new life.
    8.4
    Average Rating77 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Stardew Valley
    Developed by:
    ConcernedApe, Sickhead Games, LLC
    Published by:
    Chucklefish, ConcernedApe, Oizumi Amuzio, 505 Games
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Simulated Gambling, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco