An indie juggernaut that received’t depart our collective consciousness
The place do I begin with Stardew Valley? Writing about it in any approach looks like an enormous enterprise — from my very own deeply private experiences to its being the unofficial face of indie recreation success tales, I might in all probability fill volumes.
However in an try and hone in my focus, I wished to begin with one thing that amazes me each time I see it — the truth that 5 years after its launch, an indie recreation continues to be making the information on a weekly foundation, even though it’s technically not stay service.
Simply final week, Stardew Valley was everywhere in the headlines for its new availability on Sport Go beginning this fall. I’m truthfully not stunned by this within the slightest, as a result of it looks like an ideal candidate to suit the Sport Go components. It’s the form of recreation you can decide up at any level and have time. I already personal Stardew on 4 totally different platforms, and if I had an Xbox One I’d probably play it on there, too.
Then there’s the truth that even when the information has nothing to do with Stardew itself getting an replace or coming to new platforms, its identify continues to be evoked by video games journalists in every single place. Each time a brand new indie recreation comes out that has an 8-bit artwork model, has a farming mechanic, or vaguely resembles one facet of Stardew Valley in any doable approach, everyone seems to be explaining what this new recreation is like based mostly on how related it’s or isn’t to the legendary farming and group sim.
I believe in the identical approach that any and each recreation that had remotely tough gameplay obtained in comparison with Darkish Souls to the purpose of beating a useless horse, the very same factor is occurring with Stardew. It feels barely unfair to those new video games that they all the time must be fielded by way of the lens of one other recreation, however I perceive why they do it — with one thing that’s as widespread and well-known as Stardew, it’s a straightforward level of comparability to make use of to shortly get somebody to know what they’re in for.
For as wildly in style as Stardew Valley is, I’m truthfully shocked it has stayed comparatively contained to the bottom recreation. Even with the addition of the co-op mode, principally the one factor that modifications is having a couple of participant character within the combine. With a purpose to keep related, a whole lot of franchises have so as to add seemingly infinite quantities of DLC, or spin off into different genres solely — Minecraft is an ideal instance of that.
However Stardew has managed to obtain the identical degree of ubiquity with out straying too removed from its developer’s unique imaginative and prescient. You even have video games like Undertale, however its gameplay, subject material, and elegance are extra area of interest and off-the-wall, so it hasn’t been capable of break into the mainstream in fairly the identical approach.
So many video games nowadays, particularly AAA, wrestle with having too many cooks within the kitchen throughout their growth, and the ultimate product finally ends up being a sludge of overused tropes and mechanics of what executives suppose will promote. I really feel like most individuals know this already, but when for some purpose you missed it — the whole thing of Stardew Valley was made by one man, who goes by the display screen identify ConcernedApe. In line with the chapter dedicated to his work on making the sport in Jason Schrier’s e-book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Tales, it practically killed him as a result of it was so grueling.
Whereas it hurts my coronary heart to know he struggled a lot to make Stardew occur (belief me, I’ve been there), I don’t suppose it was all in useless. As a result of he was the one one engaged on it, he didn’t ever must compromise his imaginative and prescient. To me, that shines by way of once I play the sport — each mechanic and interplay feels prefer it has its personal persona, which is what attracts me into the expertise time and time once more.
This factors to what made Stardew Valley particular within the first place, and the explanation I believe it would by no means actually go away — the truth that we as gamers can actually really feel the fervour that continues to enter this challenge to at the present time. After all, I’ve to present credit score to the modders, YouTubers, and streamers who’re holding Stardew on the forefront of our minds, however truthfully I really feel like the sport’s pure appeal is a lot of what has made it such an enormous success.
Liable to sounding dramatic, I see Stardew Valley as standing as an emblem of each potential recreation dev’s dream: working tirelessly on a ardour challenge, for it then to be met with practically unanimous reward and blossom right into a multi-million-dollar franchise.
It’s a recreation that pays homage to the nostalgia of early farming sims, whereas on the identical time placing a contemporary spin on the style. That sense of earnestness is difficult to come back by in an trade stuffed with cynicism, and to me, that’s the primary purpose why Stardew Valley will proceed to thrive for years to come back.