Parents' Guide to

Stardew Valley

By David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Absorbing farm simulation is fun; some confusing segments.

Game Windows 2016
Stardew Valley Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 13+

Great game, but I think it’s rated too low

This is one of my all-time favorite games. I am almost 30, and a parent myself. While it’s primarily a farming sim, with fighting in the mines (or on the farm if you choose Wilderness), it’s also very much a dating sim. I know that the box says e10+, but I don’t know that I’d be cool with it just yet (my oldest isn’t that old yet), considering some of the not-so-subtle subtleties. Aside from the dating sim situation, there’s the implied sex scandal between Lewis and Marnie, the implied affair between Caroline and Rasmodius, Pam’s alcoholism and neglect of Penny, Shane’s alcoholism and suicidal tendencies, current or recently ended war (Kent just returned from a VERY long deployment), Kent having combat-related PTSD, the Elemental War, Leo’s whole situation, brainwashing exes, turning your children into doves, Linus choosing homelessness (I don’t personally have an issue, BUT I think it could give an incorrect impression that homeless people choose that), and far FAR more gambling than games had back when I was their age (think Mauville Game Corner in Pokémon Sapphire/Ruby/Emerald), this is much closer to actual blackjack and slots (Pokémon slots was much easier and didn’t function as closely to real slot machines as the Casino does). The combat is deceptively simple, it can easily be an awesome mash-button-no-thoughts kind of game, but it also takes some strategic planning. I think that the combat style is perfect for kids who want more complexity than Pikmin, but aren’t ready for something more intense like Skyrim. It’s not graphic, some of the monsters might be a little scary for young children (flying skulls, for example), and the little “blood drops” that fly off your health bar when you get hit, or are at low health, while not scary or graphic, do exist. The farming, fishing, foraging and mining, while all skill based, is pretty straightforward. Fishing can be very difficult, out of all of my friend group, I personally have the best luck with it, but due solely to sheer stubbornness. Like most games, difficult tasks get easier with experience/leveling, and fishing (as well as the other in-game skills) is no different. Your green bar starts out small, difficult to control, and the fish are FAST; the game starts you out with a bamboo rod, go into the shack and buy the 25g training rod. The bar gets smaller with each rod-rarity. Level, foods, and tackle will make it bigger, and can make it work differently. It’s not something that younger kids, or kids who can’t strategize, will be able to think through— especially when many adults can’t either. One thing I have seen people complain about, but I don’t understand or agree with, is Abigail eating non-food items. All characters have preset lines for receiving gifts, and that’s her “likes” preset; it was semi-accidental at first, but at this point ConcernedApe has more incentive to keep it, rather than change it. It’s quirky, unexpected and will either weird someone out or make them laugh; it’s a very Abigail response. My biggest concern that I haven’t seen ANYONE mention, while not part of the game itself, is what happens if you Google “Stardew Valley [character name]”. While nothing explicit happens in the games, this searches *absolutely* bring up explicit material (I love a good spicy fanfic, but I don’t want my kid reading them). I don’t think most kids are looking for fanfic, just which gifts are best for which characters or something, but it WILL come up. Because of that alone, I’m personally waiting to have my kids play it until they’re old enough to either know what NOT to click on (not just “this specific link is okay”), or old enough that I’m okay with them reading that particular literature.
age 8+

The best game EVER!!!

This game an amazing farming simulator! The graphics are beautifully inspired by the 16 bit SNES era! There is so much to do in this game! There is also RPG elements that have you fighting monsters. The laid back farming plus the RPG elements make it a mix of Animal Crossing and Pokemon. There are a few characters mentioned to have a slight drinking problem, but as you befriend them, they start to lean away from it. The women are dressed modestly (without the show of cleavage) There is a casino within the game where the player can play the slots, though again I'll compare this game to Pokemon as all the older Pokemon games have casinos where you are able to play the slots as well. There is also a character that is shown smoking a cigarette. And on a final note there is an character within the game that says the word "hell", though more of in a positive sense, eg: "Alcohol is the devil's tool to bring you down to hell, I'd stay away from it if I were you" Overall, I'd give this game a 10/10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a nice relaxing farming/adventure experience.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (78 ):

Since this farm simulation is entirely what you choose to make of it, if you're somehow bored with this game, it's sort of your fault. Even if you're not inclined to appreciate or delve into these types of immersive simulator types of games, if you stick with it long enough, sooner or later something will hook you. It takes a few hours to get your bearings and understand what there is to see, explore, and even poke at, but in this game, literally, seasons pass and so many things pop up -- fishing, mining, spelunking, foraging, cooking, luaus, haunted mazes, arcade games -- that it can all seem daunting at first. But it's part of living in a place that's meant to feel alive, growing, and changing.

The big downside of Stardew Valley is, if nothing is hooks you in for a while, it can all feel a little aimless and underwhelming. Where are you supposed to go? Whom should you talk to? What should you do, and why? What should you choose not to do, and why not? The game throws a lot at you from the outset, and it's unclear why what you're doing matters or won't matter, and that can be a little frustrating. Still, it's worth sticking with and riding out for a few hours. Granted, not everyone will have a handful of hours just to understand a game and see whether it's worthwhile, but given that you can easily rack up hundreds of hours in Stardew Valley, that's a paltry entrance fee given what it can potentially yield.

Game Details

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