Work has murdered my soul and I’ve been looking for an escape. A game that requires little effort to enjoy. Something that can be as mindless or as engaging as I want it to be. I’ve been hearing for eons that Stardew Valley would be exactly the kind of game that fit this description, but until recently, I just didn’t feel the need to download it. For the past couple of weeks, Stardew Valley has now become my go-to game and if I’m being honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m really enjoying it. Rather than try to explain how this game works, I’m just going to tell you what I’m doing and learning as I play.
I went into this game completely blind. The premise of this game is a farm has been left to you. You move to this small town and are now the proud owner of a property left to you by your grandpa (who leaves a note that sounds an awful lot like Gandalf promising to show up at the Battle of Helm’s Deep). My first day in the game, I just wandered around my property until I used every bit of energy I had and quickly realized you can’t play that way. Whoops. A lot of what I’ve learned about this game, I’ve learned by making mistakes. Realizing I can’t be out past 2am, for example, cost me money and inventory when I passed out in the middle of the road.
I’ve gone through Spring, Summer, and Fall already and I have not built a single thing at my farm. After a full season doing pretty much nothing but breaking sticks and rocks, I finally Googled the game. What the hell am I doing? I learned that the desolate Community Center I went to actually has challenges you need to complete, and when you finish them, you can unlock areas of the map, transportation methods, and acquire additional rewards. I felt like a totally dummy when I realized this was a thing.
I had also been spending time in the mines and wondering how the hell people got through all 120 levels of the mine in a day. There’s not enough time, energy, or food to do it! Well, dingus, guess what!? There’s an elevator that is operational and you use it to descend into the lower levels. Every 5 levels is a marker, so my approach of trying to power through from level 1 every day was really stupid. Also, it should’ve been obvious to me, but you need to bring food with you when you go into the mines because you will lose a ton of energy and you will get your ass kicked by random enemies. Dying in the mines is a terrible idea. Keep an eye on the clock too, because I’ve found myself trapped on a level, scrambling to find a way out, only for the clock to strike 2am and my character instantly collapses.
Money is hard to get, but that’s probably because I’m the world’s worst farmer and I don’t tend to any crops really. When I get money, I have spent it on upgrading my tools and my backpack storage so I can destroy sturdier items and carry more treasure. I also finally decided I’d invest in adding a kitchen to my house and that little NPC was hammering away at my house into the late hours of the night.
I fish a lot in this game, but I am pretty bad at it too. If I’m being honest, I find the fishing to be hard. The first time I caught a fish was pure luck because I had no idea what I was looking at. Now I know the mechanics and I find it to be frustrating more often than not. Yet still, every day, my little character is on a shoreline somewhere fishing.
Apparently there’s other aspects I’m not even trying to mess with at this point. You’re supposed to build relationships, find someone to marry, etc, but I don’t have time for that. Me and my cat, Zero (I named her after my little love I lost too soon), are hanging out on Zero farm, and we don’t need anyone else. I’ve got my cave filled with bats, my furnaces to convert ore, and I’m happy to spend my days being god-awful at everything.
The game is really open-ended and you can do basically anything with no reason at all. I like the mindlessness of it, the ability to get lost in moments and suddenly realize, “shit, it’s 12am, I need to go to bed,” before making a mad dash back home, racing against the clock. This game apparently has some co-op options in it, although I have not explored that. Maybe one day, I’ll find a fellow Stardew Valley friend to visit my desolate farm. Until then, I’m off to the caves to mine… again. Or digging in my neighbors’ trash cans…
Are you into Stardew Valley? What’s something you wish you knew before you started playing? Today’s bonus is a picture of my little Zero, who I miss very much. She lives on in Stardew Valley with me.