“I’m sure the town thinks I’m a weirdo who never stops work­ing”

En­joy­ing a quiet, sim­ple life in Sta rde w Val­ley

PC GAMER (US) - - EXTRA LIFE -

Once, I used to play Euro Truck Sim­u­la­tor to rinse my brain of the anx­i­ety and stress of mod­ern life. Now I ex­fo­li­ate it with Stardew Val­ley, a wildly ad­dic­tive farm­ing sim­u­la­tor by Con­cernedApe. In the past I’ve lost hun­dreds of hours to the likes of An­i­mal Cross­ing and Har­vest Moon on Nin­tendo con­soles, and this scratches all the same itches. It’s the kind of gen­tle game that you can play while lis­ten­ing to a pod­cast or bing­ing on a Net­flix show. But also has enough va­ri­ety and depth to sat­isfy the urge for some­thing with a bit more meat on the bone. Ev­ery­one plays Stardew Val­ley dif­fer­ently. There’s a whole friend­ship and ro­mance sys­tem where you can talk to towns­folk, give them gifts and be­come a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity. But I haven’t touched any of that. For the first year, I’m here for profit. To har­vest crops, sell them, and up­grade my homestead. It’s just turned win­ter, and I’m bet­ting most of the peo­ple in Pel­i­can Town don’t know who the hell I am. I only roll in there in the morn­ing to buy seeds from Pierre and gather coral. I’m a recluse, sure, but a rich one.

My farm’s look­ing good. I have a coop, a cou­ple of happy chick­ens, a silo stuffed with hay for the win­ter, and a cat. There’s some­thing won­der­fully calm­ing about play­ing Stardew Val­ley, es­pe­cially if you turn the mu­sic off and just lis­ten to the sound of the wind howl­ing and birds chirp­ing. And I love how the land­scape is trans­formed as the sea­sons shift, from the crisp green of spring to the golden brown of fall. When I’m till­ing the soil and feed­ing my chick­ens, my trou­bles melt away. And sell­ing off a bumper crop and mak­ing a for­tune is hugely grat­i­fy­ing.

I’m fat on wealth and eggs, and it’ll be win­ter in a cou­ple of days. Hon­estly, I’m look­ing for­ward to not hav­ing to wa­ter or tend to crops for a while. Maybe I’ll use this free time to start meet­ing peo­ple. Or maybe not. There are mines to plun­der, mush­rooms to for­age, and trees to chop down. I ac­tu­ally think the soli­tude adds some­thing to the game. It makes it more peace­ful. Al­though I’m sure the town thinks I’m a weirdo who never stops work­ing. I love that there’s no pres­sure to play Stardew Val­ley any par­tic­u­lar way and no real time lim­its.

Ac­tion Plan

A lot of Stardew Val­ley is busy­work, but the dif­fer­ence be­tween this and bloated open world games is that you’re al­ways work­ing to­wards some­thing you need. You know that af­ter care­fully wa­ter­ing those pump­kins for 12 days you’re go­ing to make a huge amount of money and be able to up­grade your farm, un­lock­ing new ways to play and make money. The game is con­stantly ex­pand­ing, re­veal­ing new se­crets and treats, and that’s why it’s such a lethal timesink. I can lose en­tire evenings to this game with­out ever be­ing aware of time pass­ing, which is dan­ger­ous, but a sooth­ing balm for an anx­i­etyrid­den brain.

The game is con­stantly ex­pand­ing, re­veal­ing new se­crets and treats

A field of bok choy wait­ing to be picked.

This old scare­crow is my only true friend.

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