It’s obvious that ConcernedApe, the sole developer of Stardew Valley, is a Harvest Moon fan. The game is pretty much a love letter to those that have thoroughly enjoyed previous entries. Here are some things that I think Stardew Valley does better than its influences:
Over the many years of Harvest Moon’s reign, there has always been one reoccurring request from players, and that is allowing us to marry someone of the same sex in-game. ConcernedApe heard our plea and finally created a game that allows players to marry any of the single people in the town, regardless of their sex.
Another small, yet highly realistic addition to Stardew’s family simulation experience, is the player’s ability to adopt a child. Although it may be easier to simply get married and have one the old fashioned way, adoption grants the player with more options when it comes to playing. This small function, along with same-sex marriage, is what proves that Stardew Valley is far more progressive when it comes to understanding the player and giving us what we want — more options!
No Load Times
One monumental difference is that of loading times between Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon. Thankfully, loading is non-existent in Stardew Valley. In the more graphically intensive Harvest Moon games, this was a constant annoyance. For Harvest Moon players, we know that these games are predicated on repetition and often times loads time can severely impact the game’s overall flow. Good job Stardew!
Harvest Moon has never been on PC before, so unfortunately for us, we have never been able to customize it. Stardew changed all of that, allowing players to mod their experience. Since launch, the game has had multiple mods available and fans continue to create every day. Many fans have expressed their distaste for the character portraits that the game launched with. The modding community then uploaded their own portraits that appeal to long time Harvest Moon fans.
ConcernedApe has become one of the most beloved developers as of late. This love has stemmed from his ability to provide constant updates to the game and his willingness to listen to the feedback his fans provide. From the jump, he has never been opposed to getting down to it with players, and is constantly helping people with in-game problems via his Twitter page. These personable yet humble qualities that ConcernedApe possesses, along with the love he puts into his game, prove that Stardew Valley really is his passion project.
For years, Harvest Moon fans have always complained about the lack of substantial changes throughout the series. I remember playing Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life and wishing that I could build a sprinkler system so that I could alleviate some of the mundane tasks that the game required me to perform. Stardew Valley finally heard my prayers and delivered such a system — and that is not the only prayer ConcernedApe answered. In mostly every single Harvest Moon game, you start with extremely long tutorial sequences, forcing you to continue playing at a boring pace. Stardew has a very short, skippable intro, and provides simple tutorials with quick text boxes. If you understand the basics of how Harvest Moon plays, you can’t help but appreciate these small innovations to gameplay that Stardew Valley provides.
There is some music from the Harvest Moon series that I enjoy, but for the most part, the songs loop so often that they become annoying. The music in Stardew Valley stands out on its own, and could easily be enjoyed outside of the game. For those who spend hours in this beautiful world, its really nice to listening to something that doesn’t make you want to gauge your eyes out after the first hour.
The Harvest Moon series often gives the player very little information when it comes to incentivizing the achievement of any sort of gaming goal. Stardew Valley keeps you motivated with the restoration of the community center, giving the player items to assist in earning income. This progressive, rewarding function to gaming is one that most Harvest Moon fans will appreciate.
If you love games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, you really owe it to yourself to play Stardew Valley. It takes the best elements of those games and streamlines them marvelously. Be sure to check it out on Steam, and if you love it, feel free to show ConcernedApe some love on Twitter!