Stuck in your dead-end job, you open a letter from your grandfather that happens to include a deed to a gigantic plot of land in the country, sparking a spiritual pilgrimage under the guise of an old-school farming simulator. This is Stardew Valley; the indie darling that PC fans have been enjoying for roughly a year, which has only recently graced consoles.
And it was worth the wait. I typically play the PC edition with a controller anyway, as most of it doesn’t require precise movement or cursor manipulation, so everything from using items, and accessing menus to moving your pointer around with the right analog stick is as smooth as butter. There are slight pathing issues when it comes to giving NPCs items (it’s easier to just click on them directly), but since just about every action comes with a confirmation prompt, it’s not gamebreaking.
Nothing is gamebreaking about this console port, actually. It’s pretty much the same game, minus some of the amazing quality of life and conversion mods on PC, like “make Marnie go to work” or the famous Pokémon pixel swap. If you absolutely cannot live without mods the PC platform might be the way to go, but you’re getting more than a complete game for the price, As an in-game year (just the beginning, really) can take you upwards of 15 to 20 hours if you stop and smell the roses that you just planted in your front yard.
Stardew Valley does an admirable job at making each activity (foraging, farming, fishing, and combat) viable, but some can be gamed or exploited more than others. In that sense, while I do feel like the world is organic and charming, patterns start to develop and the cracks start to appear more often once you start repeating seasons. It’s perfectly reasonable since one person basically developed it, but it’s something to be aware of as those small issues start to pile up.
I might not be as hypnotized with Stardew Valley as a lot of other folks, but it’s pretty much the Harvest Moon follow-up I’ve been waiting for since the SNES and Nintendo 64 days. It doesn’t have all of the baggage and complications of recent iterations or farming simulators—it simply does one job, and goes completely out of its way to do it well.