I finished Life Is Strange not too long ago, and I envy my naive self from this past post. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are planning on experiencing it yourselves, so I’ll just say… Boy, did things escalate quickly. The latter parts of episode 3 through to the end of episode 5 were composed of some of the heaviest things I’ve ever had to think about. I couldn’t help but question what my 17-year-old self would have done in Max’s situation. Probably crawled into bed in fetal position. Actually, that’s pretty much what I did after I finished the game. It left me emotionally, mentally, and (somehow) physically drained. Go play it.
I needed my next game to be something much more chill, and having heard rave reviews about Stardew Valley, I decided to pick it up. I have since lost all will and ability to be productive in real life. It reminds me a lot of Nintendo’s old school Harvest Moon. Except better? I often get bored of the repetitive nature of these sorts of games, but Stardew Valley does a nice job at constantly keeping you occupied. I’ve found myself lying awake at night, thinking of all the things I’ve yet to accomplish on my farm.
It’s not just about the farming and wooing of potential marriage partners (à la Harvest Moon). You have the option of completing “quests”, a mine where you can slay various kinds of monsters, and parts of the town that remain to be unlocked. There were a lot of new elements that I was initially skeptical about, because I thought each part would be left disjointed. I mean, what does battling cave skeletons have to do with a successful farm anyway? But rest assured, the game has a pretty seamless way of connecting everything together.
I’m also convinced that the open-endedness of Stardew Valley is one of its strengths. Open-ended games normally intimidate me, as I tend to like a bit more structure and direction with what I’m doing. Skyrim* still sits neglected in my library, and I feel guilty whenever I scroll past it… The overwhelming amount of things left to do and the massive time commitment it takes always discourages me from trying. In Stardew Valley, you really can quit after wrapping up a single farm day’s work, or (if you’re like me) you can binge play through an entire season in one sitting. Either way, it felt like my choice. Even if you do decide to tackle side quests, I’ve found that most of them don’t take an obscene amount of time and/or aimless wandering, so you’re not left frustrated with things like why Haley needs a cave carrot so badly.
Two thumbs up. Maybe -0.2 of a thumb for sleep deprivation and decreased motivation in things unrelated to Stardew. That’s probably due to my own lack of self control, though.
Before I leave, I just need to say: how insane was the Villanova win on Monday?! I still get chills watching that buzzer beater. Congrats to all the Wildcats out there.
* I realize that this might be the worst comparison in the history of comparisons, but I stand by my stance on (most) open-ended games!