Starfield | Not Wanting Involvement
Stardew Valley is much more than just a farming simulator with RPG elements mixed in. While farming can be the main focus there are also mining, fishing, social, time management, and ethical choices to make while playing.
This is the main draw to this game and if it’s all you really want from this game you are in luck. There is a bunch of different crops to grow, a massive field to set up a farm. Along with a lot of options from watering, soil, and even expending out your operations.
One of the biggest parts is planning out your farm. The game tells you how long a crop takes to grow and it needs to be water daily. You can also have issues with crows eating the seeds, asteroid and other issues pop up as well. Even more so when you expand out your operations and start using a lot of the land they give you.
They have recently added in a bunch of different starting farms to the game that you can pick to play one of. I ended up going with the classic as I was looking for some nostalgia as I replayed this game. Some of them are more geared for repeat players and present their own challenges. This could include having to clear harder land to deal with monsters spawning on your farm.
So there you are with a freshly started game. All your land is covered in trees, rocks, and overgrown grass. As you sit there clearing out a little spot your mind wonders a little bit. What will this end up turning into this time? Are you going keep it small or have this massive time-consuming farm where most of your days are dealing with harvesting and any issues that arise?
After some time you break out your farming hoe and start to till the land one square at a time so you can start sowing your seeds. Over time you upgrade your farming hoe, watering can and start to craft sprinklers to water for you so your time can be focused elsewhere.
As the seasons pass each one brining’s in different types of crops. From the humble beginnings of being a potato farming to the more exotic ancient fruits. There is quite a considerable array of options to go. Each with their own grows time, profit margins and other factors to consider as well as you learn to play and keep track of things.
Some of the corps is a single harvest that take only a couple of in-game days. While others might have a longer growth time but you can keep collecting without having to replant. Then you have the very rare crops that might take an entire season just to mature but can keep producing if it’s warm enough from spring to summer for instance.
Beyond this, you can really expand out and upgrade your house. This is something I rarely see in these types of games. I was able to have a kitchen added to my house with options to expand out rooms and add in even more space.
You can also go the livestock route and raise a bunch of different animals on your farm. You can have things like rabbits, cows, chickens, pigs, and so many other stuff. They just require you to build a special building such coop or a barn. From there you just need to keep them cared for everyday and harvest when the time comes. While I’ve gone this route before in the past I skipped it this time around as it adds another layer of things to do in your every day to day in this game.
Beyond all of this, the farming part does have an end game to it. You come to a point where you have enough funds in your bank to buy any seeds or animals you need to for the coming season. As such you can start thinking long term by turning your base product into something more. Most of the time it is focused around aging for a long time your crops in barrels. Along with preserving or turning things into mayonnaise for instance.
The most enjoyable and relaxing part for me is how labor intensive it is to run and harvest your farm. You are not going out and spending all your gold on a tractor and harvesting equipment to that scale. The game keeps it more focused on a simple but enjoyable life on a farm. Without muddling it up with the corporate lifestyle that modern-day farms adhere to. Sometimes fun for the player is just keeping it simple and slow. They did a great job at that for this part of the game.
Mining And Mines
Once thing is more set on the farm this is really the part of the game I enjoy the most. They give the player access to two different styles of the dungeon mines that you try and get as far as possible in. The first one you start off with and have an elevator to get back to lower floors. The second one you need to unlock and it’s a start over every time.
They gave the players a few ways to advice deeper in the mines which I like to see many options. Most of the time you are trying to uncover the ladder down. This can be found by killing monsters and breaking things like rocks or ore nodes apart.
They also give you an assortment of crafting items you can use to advance faster. This can be as simple as crafting stairs that are consumed on use. To something a little more advanced as creating different kinds of explosives and dropping them in a heavy area with a lot of rocks hoping to get lucky and find the ladder down. These are great for the second mine when you are trying speed run down as far as you can get.
While you are still learning the game, upgrading your pickaxe, getting better weapons the first mine is quite easy for the player to navigate and deal with the challenges inside. It’s fast to get to and back to your house as well so you can really push your luck on staying too long.
There is no death in this game the worst that can happen is you get knocked out. If that happens you lose some money, a couple of random items and a number of floors including ones you have already reached the save point on. At least not all is lost while it hurts it's not to a point of making you dislike the game if things go sideways.
Every five levels while in The Mines you come to an elevator checkpoint that saves your progress so next times you return go to those levels. This really made it easy to target farm a certain ore I needed for crafting such as silver or copper. Along with if I needed to farm a monster for certain drops or get to a fishing hole in this area as well.
This one is great if you don’t want the plan and bring in a lot of supplies. Sometimes I found mid-day I’d just run over to this mine and try and advice by five levels to unlock another checkpoint. This mine does cap out at 120 floors so there is at least an endpoint; unlike, Skull Cavern where a legit player will not expect to reach the limit of possible floors.
This is the much harder area get to progress in. To even get to it in the first place the player needs to fix the out of order bus. It also takes longer to travel to Skull Cavern. You also have the fact that your progress is not saved while in the cavern.
The monsters are also much harder giving the player a greater challenge. The risk to reward is also matched with far better end game loot the player needs. Such as Iridium Ore with a higher chance of getting more the deeper you go down. Which at least for me made me want to take more risks.
The Skull Cavern also has an additional way to get deeper floors if the player is willing to take the risk of jumping down any holes they find. You could end up only a couple of floors deeper or a considerable amount. A question I often found myself asking is do I have enough supplies to recover if I take that leap down. It can quickly end your run if not.
Overall Skull Cavern rewards the player that came prepared that brought healing foods, good equipment, and explosives or stairs to quickly get down for the higher chance of getting better loot. This one also goes on far deeper than any legit player could ever reach.
As someone who has played a number of fishing games, I was somewhat bored with this part of the game. The great thing is if I really did not want fish it was not like I was being forced to. I would rank it as my fourth fun thing to do in this game.
The actual action of fishing was the part I just did not find very interesting. It was a mini-game as they tend to be where I just felt like I was spamming my keys to keep the bar in the correct spot to catch the fish. Add in a bonus box showing up from time to time and there I was spamming those keys even faster trying to get it as well.
The coolest aspect of fishing was creating an opportunity to explore and better know the map. There are a bunch of different fishing spots in the game from in the mines, on the docks, along rivers or even ponds. So this really got you to go out and find the finish you wanted to collect.
There were some redeeming qualities to the finishing system itself. Other than the location you also have bait type, time of day, weather, season, the type of fishing rod you were using. There were quite a few factors at play for the player to consider. I felt it added enough depth without going overboard.
If I was just to rate this as a mini-game in this game and that what it more or less felt like. It was decent. It also gave you the player something else to do while waiting on crops to grow, and you were low on energy.
I’ll be honest I did not like this part of the game so I rarely ever did anything regarding it. I might have shown up to a couple of events here or there but that was just about it. I never went down the path of building up relationships and trying to have a family. That’s great if you want to take the game to the next level on that front. I myself liked being a solo farmer.
With that said you can go to a number of different events to win prizes if you score higher. One such event is the egg hunt where you run around the middle of town collecting eggs. They can also hold events at different locations and even times of the day. The biggest downside to these is the normal function of that area are not available during these special seasons events. So if you really wanted to go to the store to buy something you have to wait till the next day.
The NPCs in the game do accept gifts and this is how a player could build up a friendship with someone for different rewards. Each one has its own performed items to receive as a gift. With the atmosphere, this game irradiates this really felt out of place. As you give gifts you more or less can acquire a wife and make a family. Consumerism at its finest? Seems like that one sends the wrong message but I could be wrong. I never delved deeper into this system myself.
While having a wife and later on a kid to help around the farm sounds great and adds that missing the social element of a family that many farming simulators lacks. With simple planning and having enough water sprinklers, for instance, I never found it needed. Unless you really went all out on a farm and took up the entire area given I just never had a need to play around much with this game mechanic.
Resource And Time Management
The game I feel has some great teachable moments for the player regarding this element of the game. You need to get home before it’s too late at night. Each season has a new set of corps and most don’t survive a season change. You also need to manage your health and energy bars for all the stuff you are done.
While your character is an adult this game gives you a curfew of when you need to sleep. If you fail to respect this you end up passing out and like anyone would be you are very tired the next day (we can all relate to that.) This to me was an interesting punishment to place on the player that also had a very limited impact. I found if I had enough food to recover and I was going deep into Skull Cavern the rewards I was chasing was well worth the consequences.
You also have a limited amount of energy per day unless you start using food to gain more. Early days of the game you spend most of it trying to maintain your farm with watering and all that good stuff. The game also in a clever way gives the player a break by having days it rains where you don’t need to water. This allows you to go into the mine and hopefully get some more to make upgrades to your farming equipment such as your watering can.
Often times before my day even started I would ask myself what is my daily goal? Is it time for crops to be harvested and do I have enough time to plant more before the growing season ends? Is it going rain that day so I can go off to mine? Am I going to go fishing or need to buy something at the store? What else do I plan to fit into my day to maximize it?
You would not think a game like this would have you thinking in such ways. As someone who tries to remain to organizes and manage my time. I really loved this part of the game. As the player, I always felt like I was setting my own goals instead of just checking to see what quests I had.
While I’m going try and avoid spoiling too much of the storyline in this game it has a lot to do around the ethics and the choices that player makes. The game portrays the reason you left the corporate world and why you wanted to have a simpler life as a farmer. Along the way you see the impacts of that other life, you left start to show up.
A lot of this is centered around the Community Center the game introduces to you early on. It is run down and has some other stuff going on. You as the player are given the opportunity to fix it up and make it like new again.
The ethics part of this really comes into how you choose to repair it. You could take the harder path of needing to wait for seasons to pass and slowly collect all the items needed for each area. There is also the more corporate option that you could take later on where you just spend money to fix it.
Ultimately do you remain true to finding your roots or do you become such a successful farmer with millions in the bank that money now solves everything. The game currently gives the player a lot of options of just buying things instead of getting them yourself with the in-game gold you make from farming.
I have played this game so many times over the years it’s always fun to start fresh and have a casual adventure. While I was never that big into farming simulators and did not join that hype train when it peaked a number of years ago. I find it rather relaxing to play and that is why it’s in my library of games. It was a nice break to my week to play it yet again.