Some people may have told you that Stardew Valley is a “chill” game about farming and making friends. Someone might have told you that this is an easy going, relaxing game that can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who don’t normally play video games. Those people were wrong. For me, Stardew Valley is not really a game at all; it is a mirror, reflecting within it the darkness of the human condition, and my own inability to escape it.
At the time of this review, I have logged 114 hours into this game. I have completed the community center in it’s entirety, and I have perfectly optimized my farm for brutal efficiency. I make millions of dollars each season, and, for no good reason, I continue pushing just to see how grotesque and gaudy my industrial hellscape can become. I have never spoken to a single member of the town who cannot benefit me monetarily; if you asked, I would likely only be able to name 5 NPCs at best. I almost never go to the town events and have often found them to simply be obstacles or annoyances in my personal quest for power. This game may be relaxed for some, but for me, it is war. There shall be no item left unpurchased, no crop left ungrown, and no slime left unslain. I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.
If you share a desire for ruthless expansion and power, this game is for you. Conversely, if you just want to have a cute little farm and role-play a simple but idyllic rural fantasy, this game is probably also for you. Either way, if you value your mental health, or maintaining actual productivity, the abyss is best left un-gazed upon.