I would like to begin by saying that I do not normally play games like Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition. That being said, I will do my best to give this game by game publisher and distributor 505 Games and independent development studio ConcernedApe a fair review. This game is similar to games like Harvest Moon and Rune Factory, so if you know what those are and have no interest in them, then you will most likely not enjoy this game.
For those of you who have never played either of those games, Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition is, at its core, a farming game. Your character is given a plot of land which crops can be grown on and then sold. The process is fairly simple, use the hoe tool to turn a soil tile into a tilled tile (a hole is dug in the ground to put the seeds in). Tilled tiles can then have a seed placed on them. For the seed to grow, the crop must be in season and the watering can needs to be used on it once per day—unless the weather for that day is rainy. The game has a total of 4 months or “seasons” each consisting of about 28-30 days in length. Once the crop has matured, you can harvest it and sell it.
This farming system is the main way for your character to earn money in the game, although it is not the only way. There is also foraging (essentially finding items lying around such as berries, walnuts, etc.), fishing (casting a line in the water, waiting for a bite, then playing a mini-game to catch the struggling fish if you didn’t accidentally catch driftwood), crafting, and mining.
When starting Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition, you will make a character, name both your character and the farm you’re getting, list what your favorite thing is, choose one of 5 farms to start at, and choose whether you are a cat person or a dog person. The choice of farm does not affect the story or characters in any way, it only changes the look of the plot of land you start with. What you list your favorite thing as also does not appear to have any noticeable affect on gameplay. However, saying you are a cat person will result in one day early on where one of the townsfolk will ask you if you want to adopt a cat for your farm. If you said you are a dog person, then you will get the opportunity to have a dog on your farm instead.
The game starts out slowly, but begins to pick up pace after the first month in game time. If you are still invested in the game by this point, you will have an idea of what to do and will most likely have gotten access to some of the bigger things, such as barns and coops to hold farm animals.
For the most part, collecting ore takes place in the town mines. In the mines, you can encounter enemies that will try to attack you. You can fight back against them, and the combat system for this is reminiscent of old 2D Legend of Zelda games. As a fan of these kind of games, I found myself frequenting the mines more often than the rest of the game. While it is possible to run into enemies outside of the mines, you will most likely only need to have weapons on hand when you decide to go spelunking.
While the enemies you encounter in the mines start out weak and pathetic (slime blobs and flies) the deeper into the mines you go, the more dangerous the enemies get. I was able to get to about as far as floor 80 and was fighting walking skeletons and ghosts that shot energy balls. Each level starts you by a ladder up that will allow you to instantly exit the mines. To progress though the mines, you need to find a ladder down. This ladder usually spawns after breaking a certain number of rocks/ores open or after fighting a certain number of enemies. Every 5 levels, you will find an elevator that allows you to quick travel to and from that floor and the entrance of the mines. If you run out of health in the mines, you will wake up at the entrance missing two items picked at random and will forget about the last few levels (the exact number differs from time to time). Items in a stack count as one item, something I learned the hard way when I woke up once and found the stack of 600+ stones I had was missing. In this situation, I did what any reasonable gamer would do—I loaded the last time I saved so I didn’t need to put up with the consequences.
Take a look at the Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition Release Trailer:
One of my main complaints about Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition is that it does not tell you how to play beyond how to move, pick up items, and plant seeds on the farm. For people who hate hand holding tutorials, you now have your wish. This game is one of those that tell you next to nothing about how to play. I was able to figure most things out on my own, but some things—like how the social system works—I had to look up videos on YouTube to understand. And based on the number of how-to videos there are for this game, clearly I am not the only one suffering this problem. Overall, I did not enjoy this game, although whether or not this was a matter of personal preference or frustration over the lack of explanations, I don’t know. I believe that a fair rating is 8.5/10.
Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition can be purchased at retail locations for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on Steam.