Stardew Valley – Perfect for the Switch

If you haven’t heard of this game, you’ve probably been living under a rock. But for all the Patrick’s out there, Stardew Valley is a farming RPG that lets you play as a farmer living off the bounty of the land. Befriend and romance the residents of sleepy Pelican Town, fish by the pier, or explore the cavernous underground. Despite already being 2 years since its initial release, the game is still going strong, the addition of multiplayer stoking new excitement in existing owners.

With a Nintendo Switch, bringing Stardew Valley along your daily commute is no longer a pipe dream. I’ve put sixty hours into the game on PC, but I couldn’t resist having it on a portable. Purchasing what is essentially the same game can seem weird, but I love owning games I like on multiple platforms. If you’re one of the lucky few who have yet to experience the joy of Stardew Valley, getting it for the Switch will be your best decision yet.

Farming is pleasant enough to make your mind wander, but engaging enough to keep you interested. Scoff if you must, but the act of planting, watering and harvesting crop is by far the ultimate stress relief. The rote nature of each day in Stardew Valley is comforting: get up at six, pet your pet, grab the stuff you need for the day and get out there. I still remember stepping out of my character’s ramshackle house for the first time. The realisation that I beholden to nobody but myself, is gratifying beyond words.

At the beginning, your character is given sizable amount of money to buy some seeds. Variety as they say, is the spice of life. Figuring out which vegetables and fruits give you the most profit, watching them grow as the season progress, is half the fun. Before that, you’ll be staring over the farmland you own, clearing the weeds, branches, stones, and obsessing over how to arrange your crop in an aesthetically pleasing manner. When the next season rolls around, you’d be itching to do the same thing again.

Then, there are the residents of Pelican Town. A smattering of personalities with hopes, wants and dreams, hidden till you get to know them better. Farming might be what you came for, but I feel like building relationships with everyone in town is what you ultimately stay for. I realised this after starting a new save on the Switch. I do enjoy the farming aspects, but the highlight of my current playthrough is getting to know the characters I fell in love with for the second time.

Farming ties in nicely with relationship building. Choosing to part with the harvest you toiled over is hard, but necessary. A rule of thumb is to plant more than you think you need, because gifting the residents with coral, clamshells, and flowers get old pretty fast. Though getting your first  ‘Ew, gross!’ can be discouraging and painful, through trial and error and determination to figure out the preferences of each character, getting your first ‘I love this!’ is one hell of a reward.

The underground mine slash dungeon is a nice place to mix things up if the monotony of farming or socializing sets in. Within the dank and decrepit dirt walls, dig for ores and fight your way through monsters of varying sliminess.  The presence of monsters ups the pressure, your energy meter isn’t infinite and overstretching can mean dying at the hands of a rogue bat, providing an enjoyable break from the cycle of plant-water-plant. Ores are important materials that can be smelted into copper, iron, gold bars to build new machines or upgrade tools.

Some may choose to concentrate on their farms during the first three seasons and tackle the dungeon during Winter, but staggering my visits made it feel more like a adventure than a mind numbing grind. The beauty of Stardew is that it gives you free rein. Do what you please, whenever you feel like it. Find the schedule that works best, and you’d enjoy yourself no matter what.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed my Stardew Valley experience on the Switch. If you own it on another platform and can’t get enough of it, like me, buying it again is a no brainer. The sensation of planting crops, talking to townsfolk, feeding your animals bales of hay, is somehow ten times sweeter when you’re en route to a destination with a Switch snug between your hands.