Stardew Valley First Impressions | My First Year in Pelican Town

At the start of June, my brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday and so I asked him to buy me Stardew Valley. The reason why I asked him to buy it for me as a present was because, one, it was the only thing I could think of that I kind of wanted. And two, because I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not but I thought I would give it a go. So the purchase was made via Steam and I was playing it within five minutes.
The reason why I was unsure of whether I would like the game or not is because the game is heavily influenced by the Harvest Moon series and the one Harvest Moon game I played, I was not a fan of. So it only made sense that if I didn’t like Harvest Moon, I wouldn’t like a game heavily based off of it.
Well, I was wrong.
You start off in a farm which you inherited from your grandfather, it is an overgrown farm so you have to clear the land in order to plant any crops. Which, was the first thing that I thought would turn me off of the game. I tried to watch a Let’s Play of the game to get an idea of it, but when I saw the player start with a huge farm they had to clear, I thought it would be super boring to watch and therefore super boring to play.
However, clearing up the farm didn’t end up being too bad. You just need to clear a little patch at first to get going and then over time you can clear the whole land.

Planting my summer crops!

The farming aspect of the game is actually quite enjoyable, for me anyway. (I think it has something to do with the Farmville addiction I used to have). Every time a new season starts I go straight to the store to get seeds for that season. In the first year, I didn’t do much farming because at the time you had to water each and every crop and it became tedious. For the longest time, I didn’t know that when you upgraded your tools it allowed you to water and hoe more than one piece of land at a time. So that probably would have saved me a lot of time haha.
As the game goes on you can also craft sprinklers which makes it a lot easier to farm, you just have to plant things and let the sprinklers take care of the watering. You can also craft scarecrows to help scare away crows from the farm.
Of course, there are also animals which you can get on the farm which comes with building coops and barns for them, they are also pretty easy to take care of as long as you have long grass on your farm. During winter though you have to keep them indoors and stock up on hay.
Winter was probably the hardest month for me to play through because you can’t grow any crops during the winter unless you have the greenhouse. In the first winter, I hadn’t unlocked it yet so I had to find other things to do. But I definitely missed planting my crops.

Meet the villagers!

Aside from that, you also have a whole town full of people to meet when you first arrive which I struggled with at first. When you start a game and they give you a task like “meet everyone in town” you think it’s going to take about two minutes. It took me about two hours. There are so many people to meet and it’s such a big town so it was a bit of a struggle. Luckily, as the game goes on you begin to recognise villagers and their routines so it’s a lot easier to track them down.
My main problem at the beginning was trying to talk to people who were in their rooms. You can only get into their rooms if you have enough friendship hearts with them. So building relationships in the game is also important.
However, if you are like me, and your focus in the game is anything but talking to villagers, then you can slowly build relationships by giving presents on people’s birthdays. I missed the first few birthdays in the Spring, but other than that I made sure everyone got a present on their birthday.
Although it is beneficial to build relationships with the villagers as they can help you as the game progresses and there are several villagers that you can marry and start a family with in the game. I have not decided who I want to marry yet though, there are a lot of eligibleĀ spouses and they all have their own charms about them. So I guess I just see who I end up with.

A Linus heart event

When gaining friendship hearts with villagers you will also get to experience heart events. I didn’t know what they were until I stumbled into one without knowing. They are little cut scenes that you have with the villagers and you get to learn more about them. This adds a lot more depth to the game because even though it’s a cute game on the outside, a lot of the villagers are dealing with real problems. So I do recommend befriending the villagers to learn more about their story.

The Feast of the Winter Star (Winter Event)

You also get to spend time with the villagers during special events. I make sure to go around and talk to everyone at events because they are all in one place. I imagine the special events get boring after the first few times you experience them but the first time around it’s interesting to see what goes on. Every season has two special events, and each is different but take up the whole day which means farming and other ventures have to be put on hold.

Completing a room in the community center

One thing I really got into during my first year in the game was completing the community center bundles. You have to collect certain items and bring them to the community center to restore it. I know there is a different way you can do this where you buy a Joja Mart membership but if you do that, you just have to pay a lot of money to restore the community center. Which, doesn’t seem as fun.
Plus, I feel like you feel more accomplished when you get a certain item needed for a bundle. I have completed three sections of the community center so far, so I just need a few more to go. It can be a little frustrating having to check the community center bundle list every time you pick up a new item, so my solution was to write down the ones I needed on a piece of paper. That way, when I played the game I could always have the sheet in front of me, rather than trying to navigate back and forth from the menu.
When you complete a bundle in the community center you also receive items or unlock special things which will help you in the game, such as the beloved greenhouse that I need to grow crops in the winter.
Another thing which I really enjoyed in my first year of the game was going into the mines. It was the thing I would do when it rained because that’s when I didn’t lose any energy watering crops. The mines are procedurally generated each time you enter, meaning each floor is different each time. You make your way through mining for ore to turn into bars which help craft items. You also have to be wary of monsters lurking in there too.

Reaching the bottom of the mines

One of the tasks you get in the game is to reach the bottom of the mines, it’s not that difficult, however, the further you go down the mines the more you have to be careful of losing all your health/energy and passing out. If you pass out, you lose items, money and “forget” previous levels in the mine which you have to revisit. I was usually good at making it down there without passing out, but towards the end, it happened a few times and it was so frustrating because I was so close to a checkpoint.
By checkpoint, I mean that every five levels in the mine was an elevator, and when you unlocked that elevator you could travel directly to that level in the mine the next time you went there. I didn’t know this was a thing for a while so every time I went into the mines I started at level one, which meant I hardly got past level 10 before I had to leave before I ran out of energy or health. It’s good to know little things like that.

Trying to catch that fish!

I also was really determined to get the hang of fishing in the game. It was difficult when I first started because it’s not something I had experienced before. Basically, when you go fishing you have to keep the fish within the green bar to catch it. Sounds easy, but not when the fish is moving and never staying in one place haha.
Usually, when I go fishing in Animal Crossing it’s super easy, you just gotta press a button when the bobber goes down. So, fishing in this game is a bit of a challenge. But I think it makes it fun. My advice is to use your mouse when catching fish and just slowly click and release it and you should be able to catch most fish with ease. I still have no chance of catching fish that jump crazily up and down the bar but, one day I’m sure I will get them. I hope haha.
After I played the game for the first time, I found myself looking up videos about it on YouTube to find out useful information about starting a new game. The game has been out for a year, and so there are lots of useful videos and resources out there to help. I still always play the game with the wikia page up in case I need to know something. It really helps, especially with villager locations and finding out what the best thing is to give someone on their birthday.
You can also download mods which can allow you to basically cheat or just little ones that can enhance gameplay and change appearance of things in-game. I am familiar with using mods and things like that because of playing Sims, I can’t play Sims without some nice custom content clothing. So when I found out there were mods to make things in Stardew Valley cuter, I was all over that. I only started using mods recently, as I thought I would play my first year in the game without any mods. So I could experience it without any help.

I used mods to change the appearance of my farm buildings, cows, horse and hairstyle

I now use mods mostly to change the appearance of things. But I also use a UI mod which gives you more information in the game, I mainly got it so I would know what area scarecrows and sprinklers cover. I didn’t realise scarecrows covered such a big area in the game, but I still overlap a few areas because I want to protect my crops.
There are lots of other mods out there that I don’t even know how to begin to get into. I don’t want to mod the game too much because I do think it can take away from playing it. Although I know a lot of people prefer it that way. At the start, I did consider downloading a fishing mod because there are loads out there that make fishing a lot easier, but I was determined to be able to catch the fish on my own. So I guess mods are really just a player’s preference.
It’s recommended that you back up your files before you mod so you can always switch them back. Modding in this game is different to modding in the Sims. With the Sims, you just need to have a mods folder, but game mods for Stardew Valley require you to replace game files. So be careful, and make sure you follow install instructions on your desired mod.
I think that wraps up everything that I wanted to share about Stardew Valley now. I knew I had a lot to say but I didn’t realise just how much until I started to write this blog post haha. I just wanted to share my thoughts in case it would help other people. Although, like I said, I have only completed my first year so I might not be the best person to get advice from, but this is just what I have experienced so far in the game.
I am excited to see what other things the game has in store for me as I continue to play. I also look forward to playing in the other farm layouts you can choose from when you start the game. I didn’t mention it earlier but when you start the game, you can choose a farm layout that focuses on building a particular skill. But because it was my first time playing the game, I decided to go with the default farm. Although the other farms look kind of cool too.
Anyway, I’m sure I have more things to say about Stardew Valley but I will leave it here for now.
If you guys are interested in more updates of how my Stardew Valley life is going you can follow me on TwitterĀ or Tumblr. You can also add me on Steam, my username is fangirl1901.
~ Courtney x