Developed solely by Eric Barone, known as ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley is an embodiment of what one game developer can achieve through hard work, dedication and a lot of determination. For four years Barone didn’t just program the game, but also created every sound effect, music track and piece of art. Inspired by the Harvest Moon series, now known as Story of Seasons, Barone wanted to create a game that not only paid homage to the series, but fix several problems he had with the series.
At times Stardew Valley can feel like a nostalgic trip, taking you back to the days of classic Harvest Moon games, like Back to Nature and A Wonderful Life, but Barone’s desire to innovate always shines through. The multiplayer mode works fantastically well, allowing you to create a thriving farm, or simply chaos, with your friends. You can marry partners of the same sex, which, as a lesbian, I personally love – playing as a male character purely to romance the ladies gets boring after a while. Stardew Valley even manages to avoid becoming a repetitive slog, where you follow the same self-made routine day in, season out.
There is a large amount of freedom to how you create and manage your farm in Stardew Valley. You can spend your time carefully constructing a highly profitable farm, finding the perfect mixture of livestock and crops, or you can use it as a side business to support your adventures in the monster infested mines. The multiple farm maps allow you to add an extra layer of complexity to the game; encouraging you to adapt to new space confines and experiment with different business models. The Wilderness Farm, my favourite map, even allows monsters to roam your farm at night.