Ports of games are becoming increasingly commonplace (Let’s not mention how many ports of Resident Evil there are) and usually, I turn my nose up if I have been able to play the game on the original release platform (If I haven’t that’s a different story) yet when it comes to the Nintendo Switch, I feel a little differently.
This could be in part, to the Switch’s ability to become a handheld console in its own right – thus providing a game with new possibilities of being played whilst on the move.
I originally reviewed the PS4 version (here) – giving the game a very well deserved 9/10.
For the newcomers to Stardew Valley – what is it? Put simply, on the surface it’s an indie farming sim developed by Eric Barone (Concerned Ape) and published by ChuckleFish originally on Steam in 2016. Barone mainly developed the game solely for 4 years after graduating University with a Science Degree after finding no luck in employment. The game was released February 2016 to critical and commercial success.
Now released on the Nintendo Switch, Stardew Valley is more than just a farming sim. The story focuses on your chosen character leaving their job in the hustle bustle of a city and moving to your grandfather’s farm in the country. You can adjust your character in many ways – chose either male, or female along with a host of different looks and colours. You can then name your character and farm, with options of different types of farm such as one with extra foraging opportunities, one with more mining resources, and another with a fishing river.
The game includes NPC characters you can become friends with – simply talking to the same character each day (there are 28 days in total for each of 4 seasons) or you can complete tasks for them (usually a fetch and bring style quest) that will also boost their feelings towards you – this is displayed in the paused menu and displayed via hearts on a scale.
Day to day activities is left to you as you see fit – fancy your hand at planting crops? You’ll need to pay attention to dates when seeds are planted, ensure they are watered every day and then reap the benefits when your hard work comes to fruition.
Or want to rear animals instead? You’ll need a coop or a barn and plenty of hay to feed them each day. Use a pale to milk cows or wait for chickens to lay plenty of eggs for you to sell or even make into mayonnaise.
This is where Stardew Valley shines – the possibility of doing whatever you wish in the game at any time is liberating. You can also venture into the mines if farming is not your thing – each level in the mine brings new enemies or even new items to find. But, pay attention to your exhaustion level as each activity will deplete it. Replenish it simply by eating or drinking.
You can fish, forage, cook or simply find out what is happening – Stardew is played your way.
Even if you choose to do nothing but wonder around Pelican Town and explore – different things happen at different times of the year. For example, the egg hunt in the spring or spooky maze in the Autumn. Getting to know the characters in the town is fun too – some will be more willing to talk to you than others and will often, need your services for something.
The game works brilliantly on the Switch – and I’m not entirely sure if true but I think the game looks a lot better on a smaller screen.
There are new features coming to the Switch – supposedly multiplayer options but at the time of writing this was not available. I love Stardew Valley – it’s a brilliant mix of Animal Crossing meets Harvest Moon, exactly what Barone set out to do when creating the game. It has a unique charm both in looks and feel. It also has a strong message at the heart of the game that really sets in deep from start to finish.
While Stardew Valley doesn’t bring a lot of new features on the Switch (it does has it’s fair share of bugs too but what game doesn’t?), it simply works. Being able to take your farm anywhere with you is a delight. The visuals are stunning to look at and none of the charm from previous versions is lost. I just wish there were a few more features for those of us who have played previous versions to come back for another round of farming goodness.