Stardew Valley has become mostly synonymous with life sim games, and for very good reason. The critical darling began as a side project that turned into a long shot before becoming a hit. Announced back in 2012, Stardew Valley entered the world as a passion project whose fate was left to fans upon its debut in 2016. And amidst its fifth anniversary, it is safe to say the game's charms have only grown.
If you are like me, Stardew Valley was far from your first farming simulator. That honor went to Harvest Moon, a game that first debuted in 1996. The series became the face of farming sims given its success on the Super Nintendo, but its legacy took a hit when an overseas licensor took the game in a new direction. Nowadays, Harvest Moon has pushed forward with a comeback thanks to Story of Seasons, but Stardew Valley has already filled the simulation-shaped hole in fans.
And for most fans, they are not willing to look back. Stardew Valley's creator Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone is one such person as he was initially inspired to tackle the game after Harvest Moon left him disappointed. Rather than resign, the tech-savvy gamer chose to make their own simulation game on their own, and the result has exceeded expectations across the board.
The humble origins of Stardew Valley are charming enough as is, but that is just the start. When you play the game, it is easy to become fully immersed in a world of your making. Stardew Valley makes this possible with its gentle music, quaint graphics, and fleshed-out NPCs. Playing this game feels like coming home to fans around the world, and that is the kind of charm that doesn't fade.
For simulation veterans, Stardew Valley offers an array of goals and branching options. You can raise livestock, build a product empire, get married, construct a bespoke farm, and that is just the start. The game has all the tenants of Harvest Moon, but it combines elements of Rune Factory and Terraria. You can mine, craft, and engage in combat as you look for hidden goods under Pelican Town. With a wide variety of options at hand, Stardew Valley never gets boring. And, to this day, Barone continues to release updates that shake up gameplay and expand your dream farm.
At five years old, Stardew Valley feels younger than ever with its comprehensive updates and multiplatform delivery. The game succeeds in every way your favorite farming sim did back in the day while adding onto the formula. From its charming music to its vibrant cast of characters, Stardew Valley was built on heart from the start. And in another five years, fans will still be able to come home to their farm in-game and feel as cozy as when they first started.
How do you feel about Stardew Valley in light of its anniversary? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.