A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stardew Valley is a downloadable hybrid of a farming simulator and a town simulator -- not a simulator in the style of SimCity or even a Microsoft Flight Simulator but more of a "you're dropped down into a small town to start your own farm and interact with the locals" simulator. There's no single task you need to be doing at any time, but rather there are dozens of people to meet, form relationships with, and get to know, plus things you can do for the town and your own farm. It's partially a video game and partially a hobby unto itself.
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What's it about?
In STARDEW VALLEY, you burn out on your day job and, as luck would have it, inherit your grandfather's old farm plot in the titular town. You pull up stakes and drive out there to start a new life. There's a community to branch out into and people to establish relationships with, the possibility of romance, meals to cook, and, in many respects, an entire other world to disappear into within the game. It's not light on distractions or activities to engage in, and the story of the game is entirely up to you.
Is it any good?
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.
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