Stardew Valley constantly asks: What do you need to get done today?
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.
The game begins with a final conversation with your dying grandfather, who leaves you a farm far away from your corporate office job — a place so lifeless that Stardew Valley's music literally stops when you're near it. The farm is a weedy patch of land in a tiny-but-lively rural town beset by the very company that you left behind. The community center is in shambles, bridges are broken, and people are struggling to survive.
More than 30 intriguing characters populate the town, including those you meet after unlocking new areas. Each has their own daily routines and relationships that you can discover.
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.
There is also a touch of magical realism to the game; magical spirits called Junimos live in the abandoned community centre and a member of the Shadow People can be found in the sewers. Slowly, you'll uncover hints that there is a deeper magic at play in this world, which you catch glimpses of, but never really touch. What you do know, however, is that, in Stardew Valley, people and magic beings live together peacefully. This helps create a sense of community within the valley, which, you come to learn, must be protected.