First of all, yes, I did end up purchasing Stardew Valley and against my better judgment, I’m sure. Whether or not it was a smart buy, it has been a very fun and relaxing game. With about two hours played I’ve only scratched the surface of what Stardew Valley offers but I can see why it has received so many accolades. The game mechanics are solid, the townspeople are endearing, and the overall experience is like a warm mug of cocoa in a rocking chair; simple and inviting. Out of everything I’ve been introduced to so far, fishing has become my favorite activity. Every day I finish my farm duties using as little energy as possible just so that I can go fish.
Fishing in a video game is not a new concept for me; nearly every MMO I’ve played has had some kind of fishing skill. What sets Stardew Valley apart is that fishing is not a passive activity that only requiries you to click a button when the float bobs on the water. No, in this game you actually have to work for your catch. After you get a bite on your line, you click the left mouse button to initiate a mini game intended to represent the experience of reeling in a fish.
Once you’ve hooked the fish, a window pops up with two vertical bars, one with a fish and a green rectangle and the other empty. IF you keep the green rectangle in line with the fish the empty bar on the right side begins to fill up. If you don’t, it drops back down. Once it’s completely full you’ve caught the fish. However keeping it lined up can be quite challenging depending on how much “fight” the fish has and if the bar on the right drops back to nothing, you lose the fish. Sometimes the fish icon just sits at the bottom of the left bar and you hardly have to do anything. Other times it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the wild thrashings of the fish on the end of your line.
I heard some players say this is stressful or they don’t like the mechanic but I enjoy it quite a bit. I wish more games made fishing involved like this because it feels like an actual activity and not a bland grind. And from what I’ve heard, as your fishing skill increases so too will the ease with which you can make a catch. Unfortunately the farm seems to be the focus of this farming game (weird, huh?) so I’m probably shooting myself in the foot by spending so much time on the water but I’m not too concerned. It’s not the kind of game I feel pressured to achieve anything in particular. I just like the music, the colorful environment, the quaint townsfolk, and the sounds of the waves as I fish.