Review: Stardew Valley29 Oct 2018 1
Review: Stardew Valley
Released 24 Oct 2018
Stardew Valley, the Herculean effort from sole designer Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, is massively popular across every platform it's been ported to – and that's practically everything, including PS Vita and Nintendo Switch. Now you can cross iOS (with Android coming soon) off the list at long last, with the long-awaited mobile version of the indie farming sim/role-playing game finally out on the market. It's available now for just about anyone who wants to carve out some time to try the accessible yet challenging sim game, and its mobile iteration is its most ambitious yet. It succeeds at making farming and everything that goes with it a fun and intriguing adventure for just about everyone, too, albeit with a few small missteps that come with the mobile territory.
The game invites you to take on the mammoth responsibility of caring for your late grandfather's farm, which is a sizable plot of land that lays in disrepair. It's your job to build up your plot of land to its former glory while getting on with the other citizens of Pelican Town, where the game all goes down. This includes growing crops, raising livestock, and performing a variety of important activities that all take place in day-to-day farming. Much like the very similar Harvest Moon series, you've got to take care of everything on your own, whether that means clearing your farming area of bushes and rocks to make space for crops, watering them, harvesting them, and collecting supplies to keep things running smoothly.
Planting crops and harvesting them means you'll turn a profit, of course, but there's a lot more to it than that. Crafting, raising livestock, and interacting with the NPCs around you play large roles in the game as well. There's always something new to do, whether you're getting to know the abundance of NPCs out in the world, learning to fish and selling off your hard-fought spoils, or heading into the mines to become a seasoned member of the Adventurer's Guild. There really feels as though there’s no end to what you can accomplish, no matter if you’re just starting out or heading back in for round two, three, or four – no shame!
But despite all of these things being available for you at any given time, there's no real push to try and make you concentrate on one thing out of it all. You can explore as you wish, at your own leisurely pace, whether you spend an entire day weeding your fledgling farmland or meet up with the locals before going to your in-game bed to advance time to the next day. If there's a special someone you enjoy speaking to and getting to know, there's even a chance you might marry them one day, which is a delight in and of itself.
There's always something more to do around the corner, and the game reminds you of this at every turn. But it never forces you into completing objectives if you don't want to. It continually introduces new optional quests to take on as it gently pushes you to dig deeper into the systems it's already lavished you with. It's difficult to believe all this content is the work of one man, as it's polished and in fine form, and all here laid out for you to enjoy once more, even if you've clocked an ungodly number of hours on another platform.
Mechanically, Stardew Valley's iOS version is just as sound as ever. It's the same fantastic, content-rich game you've likely played on just about every other platform. Unfortunately, the mobile version makes a few sacrifices to make it accessible for players on the go. You can tap on the screen to make your character travel to a certain point and tap and drag. It works well enough, but it can be frustrating when navigating tight quarters such as your farmland, which is lined with rocks and other obstacles at the beginning of the game.
What's more, your tool line-up is set on the left side of the screen in the vertical position, which makes tapping or dragging your character to travel in that direction a pain when you're forever accidentally hitting a tool instead of heading to the next screen. This is an issue those who play on other platforms won't run into and isn't a huge problem, but it's massively frustrating sometime when you keep having to switch from tool to tool instead of moving to the next screen. Combat controls don't get any better, but it's serviceable. Again, these are minor problems in the grand scheme of things (such as the whole of Stardew Valley being available here on mobile), but it's also enough to drive one to hope for MFi controller support in the future.
Additionally, there's no multiplayer option available, though it's not exactly the version I'd recommend playing with others on – it's still something players would like to see eventually, though, myself included.
Stardew Valley on iOS is another excellent version of the popular farming title, and while it has its own platform-related peculiarities, it's still very much the same fantastic product, with everything you love about the other versions packed in here. It's a great and affordable way to experience the full game if you haven't already, and while you might get a touch annoyed with its mobile-centric control scheme, it'll still suck you in immediately for the long haul – better settle in.