An escape from reality

‘Stardew Valley’ is a lovely pixelated game featuring well-developed characters.

From the cooped-up and stifling environment of an office building to running around the small grainy paths of Pelican town with arms full of seeds for the season, “Stardew Valley” is a beautiful game containing well-written characters that have defined and relatable character arcs. 

“Stardew Valley” is a 2D pixelated game with a vibrant array of colors that change with the seasons. The game is available to play on almost all platforms and is best functioning if played on a PC, MacBook, mobile phone (IOS and Android) or Nintendo Switch.

Seasonal produce adds excitement to “Stardew Valley” such as strawberries, a best-selling fruit in the game. (Photo by Gabriela Salazar)

I first discovered this game after a friend recommended I try it out. The cute aesthetic immediately caught my attention, so I bought the game. I was thoroughly impressed with the graphics, but most of all, I was impressed with the deep lore and the Easter eggs players can find after completing quests.

The story begins with the player inheriting their grandpa’s farm, which is located in Pelican Town. There is no official ending to the game. 

Recently, the creator of the game, known as ConcernedApe, announced an upcoming update that will add new content. The update will also ensure that adding mods, or alterations to the game such as specific color palettes, is easier for players.

While “Stardew Valley” presents the game and town as cute and welcoming, it also contains its fair share of heavier topics. This can be seen through the character Shane, who struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. He finds himself coping with these thoughts by consuming large amounts of alcohol. Shane’s story is one that has touched my heart, a bittersweet story that can be positive or negative depending on the choices of the player. 

Another character with inner conflicts is Sebastian, who struggles with social anxiety. He only has a close group of friends and prefers to stay in the safety of his room, located down in his mother’s basement. 

The game’s main protagonist, known to the villagers as “the farmer,” is the most interesting of all. Aside from the player controlling their dialogue and appearance, the farmer seems to have a personality of their own. From my experience of the game, the farmer, like the player, is stepping into a new life on the farm and out of their demanding office job in the city. 

It is an escape from reality, for even a small moment, to live the calm life of a farmer in the game. Seasons go one by one and the characters’ stories depend on how I approach each villager. It is a wonderful and bittersweet experience that taught me a lesson of patience and love in the small environment of Pelican Town. 

I would recommend this game to anyone who is interested in learning more about money and time management, as time passes much quicker in-game, or someone who overall enjoys farming games with many side stories and possibilities with characters. 

As the player, I see everything occurring from a screen, and I am speechless at the developers’ careful and unique writing of the characters. Experiencing their successes and their failures is what made me feel connected to them, and I love that they strive to improve. It is motivational to see their hard work pay off in the end and see that even through the worst, there is always light after the rain.