Clicktastic Special: Cookie Clicker and AdVenture Capitalist

Grab your finger sized wrist bands and cue the 80s montage set to You’re the best Around by Joe Esposito ’cause you’re gonna need them to train up those clicking fingers for this clicking bonanza! 

There has been a recent trend for this most basic of games, and today I’m going to be looking at two of those, Cookie Clicker, which is browser based and AdVenture Capitalist, which you can download from Steam. Both are free to play.

Cookie Clicker

0 cookiesWhen you first open up the webpage you’ll see a giant floating cookie. It looks pretty tasty. Clearly, the thing you want to do most is to click it. When you do, because you just can’t resist the draw of the cookie, you’ll be rewarded with one cookie, click it again and you’ll get another cookie. You get the picture. Once you’ve clicked it enough times you’ll notice a little button light up at the side, allowing you to exchange some of your hard earned cookies for a Cursor, which will mean you get 0.1 cookie per second (CPS). The more cursors you buy the higher your CPS, meaning you will get more cookies at a speedier pace. It doesn’t just stop at cursors, there are all kinds of buildings, like Wizard Towers, and Grandmas and Prisms you can buy to boost that CPS, and reach the dizzyingly high numbers and buy more buildings. The price of the building increases with each one you buy, but then you’re also getting more cookies the more you have 

To make things a little more interesting there are upgrades up for sale as well, they can upgrade one type of building or the CPS as a whole, but there’s loads of them and they all have funny titles which give you a little smirk when you buy them. Some of them are much more valuable than buying more buildings, so it can sometimes be a toss up as to which one you want to go for. Every once in a while you might see an extra special golden cookie pop on the screen, you’re gonna want to click on that too, because when you do you’ll get a super duper bonus, which can boost all production for a few seconds or it might be a lump sum of cookies, who knows. Only the click will tell!

heavenly upgrades
Heavenly upgrades

After a while you’ll have a few different buildings under your belt and you’re doing pretty well, but you think that you could have done better and want to try again. No problem, wait for the little blue line at the top fill up, click it and BOOM! You just got yourself a prestige level. This is called ascending and it gives you a permanent 1% increase in your CPS and you get one heavenly cookie to spend in the heavenly upgrades shop, which has all kinds of nifty and very special upgrades that always stick with you, even through and Ascension. You can build up your prestige levels before ascending to get a nice big boost afterwards.

My two favourite things, and the most addictive thing about the game, though are the achievements. Like the upgrades they all have funny names that have been well thought out, but most importantly they are achievable, most are centred around getting x amount of this type of building, so it was easy to just concentrate on one type of building for a while, ascend and go on to the next one. The other is the humour in the game, as I said before, all the achievements and the upgrades have witty titles, there are also fake newspaper headlines rotating at the top which give you a chuckle every now and then.

AdVenture Capitalist

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Adventure Capitalist works in much the same way as Cookie Clicker, apart from having one big cookie to click, each individual building needs clicking, after so many seconds (or minutes or hours as you go up) you get the monetary reward, which can be quite laborious after a while, but you can buy managers for each building which auto clicks it for you, so you can concentrate on buying more of them and more upgrades.

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Welcome to Mars!

Another major difference is the planets. In AC you can travel to the Moon! And Mars! Which is pretty exciting, they come with their own set of challenges and one planet does not affect the other. The Earth base goes at pretty much the same rate as Cookie Clicker, but the other two have some more strange levels, which can make for a more interesting game as you have to come up with very different strategies for each planet. I found the Moon level the most fun as I found it escalated up to the high numbers quickly, and I find it very, very fun to be able to buy many buildings all at once. 

AC has it’s own version of ascension, as you go along you’ll attract angels, which you can claim at any point to get their +2% on production value, you get the choice to reset or not, though not resetting will set you back you twenty gold a rare currency in the game, which can be bought for real money. I don’t really like this ‘freemium’ aspect, but it’s not too essential to the game and you can still play without having to shell out for the gold as you do get rewarded with it every so often, though this is very sparingly.

Clicker games are the ultimate in casual gaming, they’re great for having a little click here and there, set things up, then you can leave them for a while and when you get back you have a decent pile of cookies or money to buy more things with. If you get bored with it, you can reset and try buying buildings or upgrades at different times, see if that gets you more things quicker. A bit of a drawback of Cookie Clicker is the fact that when you close down your browser it doesn’t keep building up the cookies for you (unless you get the heavenly upgrades, which give you a percentage of your cookies per second whilst the game is closed), so you need to keep your browser open and your computer on. Adventure Capitalist, however, does keep ticking over when it’s closed so you can turn off your computer for the night and wake up a nice windfall.

They both have their positives and negatives, though over all I preferred Cookie Clicker, it managed to bring a lot of humour to something so simple, and the achievements are way better and I found it to have it’s own little cookiverse. There’s a Wikia and a community out there sharing hints and tips on the best strategies, and the best ways to hack the game (cheating is not only tolerated but encouraged). The graphics and animations were far better as well. Though it could be a little annoying that I needed to leave the browser open to get the full CPS Cookie Clicker is the game for me. AdVenture Capitalist has the different worlds to explore and makes things a little more interesting with making you come up with different strategies, but ultimately it wasn’t quite a fun as Cookie Clicker.

If you’re looking for something to fill the time and go achievement hunting, if you like tycoon games, but want something bit more streamlined then these games are for you. You’re just limited to these two, there are loads out there. Most of them are free to play and have small differences so you can have a try of a few and find one that fits right for you.

★★★★☆

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Gojira – Magma Review

In a departure from their usual style, Gojira’s 6th studio release ‘Magma’ is a very personal album dealing with concepts of grief and despair over the loss of a loved one. During the recording of this album vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier and drummer Mario Duplantier lost their mother and this had a profound effect on the mood and theme of the songs.

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Not only is the tone of their songs quite different from the previous work their sound has also changed quite a bit. Everything sounds stripped down, the guitars aren’t as harsh, the bass has a distorted muddy sound, the drum compositions are simpler and there are more instances of clean vocals. If you’re already a metal fan this may sound a bit off putting but all of the changes together really help with the concept of the album. The quality of the songs in no way suffer from the simpler instrumentation. No track feels out of place on the album and they all sound like they’ve had a lot of thought put into them.

 

The opening tracks of the album ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Silvera’ really set the tone up front with heavy droning guitar riffs. The way the songs meander creates an otherworldly dreamlike feeling that really helps you get into the band’s head space. The main riff in ‘The Cell’ demonstrates this perfectly, the punching guitar and bass build an impressively oppressive sense of dread throughout the track.

 

The standout song for me is ‘Stranded’. The vocal performance during the chorus is amazing. You can really feel the emotion and the pain, Joe sounds like he’s singing for his life. Pouring every bit of his passion into it, especially when they change the key the last time around.

 

 

Some of Gojira’s more classic sound does come back for the later songs ‘Pray’ and ‘Only Pain’. Mario’s trademark double bass pedal drumming is back in full force here. It feels as if this is the band finding themselves a little amongst all the darkness as the album progresses. The lyrics in the song ‘Low Lands’ reads like a message to their mother and it’s heartbreaking. There’s a hopeful theme to this song and it has a strong ending riff that feels like the band is waking from a dream state, ready to tackle the future.

I will admit that it took me a few listens to really get into this album. It is a bit of a change in style from their previous albums which was a shock at first but it’s actually became one of my favourite metal albums of all time. You can tell it’s a deeply personal work of art right from the start, Gojira have expertly translated all the pain and emotion of grief into some of the greatest music of 2016.

 

★★★★★

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (Script Review)

So I’ll start by saying this will contain spoilers, I honestly don’t know how to talk about this book without spoiling pretty much everything. You’ve been warned!download (6).jpg

If you’ve read any of my blogs before or if you’ve ever met me in real life, you’ll be aware that I’m Harry Potter mad and knowing I was counting down the days until the new book was released, won’t surprise you. If you’ve never read a blog and don’t know me then all I can tell you is that I love the Harry Potter series so much that I got a pair of glasses and a lightning bolt tattooed on me.

As soon as I found out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be released in book form, I jumped on Amazon and pre-ordered it. As soon as the book was posted through my door, I read it and I did so within a 24 hour time frame – something I haven’t done in a long time… Probably not since The Deathly Hallows was released.

So where do I start with my review other than gushing about how much I loved it? Well in case you didn’t know, The Cursed Child follows Harry’s middle son, Albus, as he embarks on his own adventures in Hogwarts. Albus soon realises that Hogwarts isn’t all that fun when you have Harry Potter, the greatest wizard of all time, as your father and living in his shadow is pretty hard.

Now, once again, if you haven’t read the books, you might want to stop reading. Some major spoilers are coming up.

I started crying at the very beginning, as the script picks up where the last book left off, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with memories of how it felt to be reading the final Harry Potter book and that bit where Harry says ‘Albus Severus, you were named after two of Hogwart’s greatest headmasters’ (this may not be the actual quote, my copy of the book is currently packed up in a box somewhere) will forever make me cry.

Now I loved everything about this book, to start with the jobs that the adults have… Hermione as Minister of Magic? Yes please! If there’s a role Hermione was made for, it’s minister. She’s perfect for the role, she has seen how previous Ministers have coped with some of the worst events in history and she seems to have learned from their mistakes. I love that Ron is working for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, I’d previously read that he was an auror after Hogwarts and for me the job just never suited him. Although Ron is a great wizard, I love him being the slightly silly fun one of the group and a minsirty job just didn’t seem right to me. And of course Harry becomes head of magical law enforcement, he was always destined to be great and a mediocre job just wouldn’t have worked for him.

The star of the show (or script) has to be given to Scorpius Malfoy, after Albus is sorted into Slytherin, he becomes best friends with Scorpius who is just adorable. Scorpius has heard rumours that he is actually Voldemort’s son after a time turner has been used in order to ensure Voldemort produces an heir, now Scorpius isn’t sure what to think of these rumours and constantly worries they’re true. Along with this Scorpius is just a really lovely kid, he’s bullied for potentially being Voldemort’s child but he never seems angry at the other kids in school and he’s nothing but lovely to others around him.

Albus on the other hand, is sometimes pretty annoying. He resents his father for being so perfect and constantly seems angry. At first I didn’t like this and I got annoyed at Albus for not realising that his father was forced into being a hero but as I began to read, I began to understand Albus and I started to sympathise. I realised that he just wanted to live the same life that his father had, he wanted to show people that he could be just as great as his father but unfortunately he doesn’t seem to be very good at most magical things so he finds it harder than he hoped.

After overhearing a conversation between his father and Amos Diggory, Albus decides he will go back in time with the help of a time turner and he will try to save Cedric Diggory’s life. With the help of Scorpius, he goes back to the Triwizard Tournament and changes two things in the hope that Cedric will win and therefore will never touch the portkey that eventually leads to his death. I LOVED this aspect of the book, the two changes bring about two alternative realities, one where Ron and Hermione never quite get together and one where Voldemort wins the battle of Hogwarts. These brought up ideas that I had previously thought about. The idea of a reality where Voldemort had eventually won was really intriguing to me and I thought it was done incredibly well.

The book was pretty light and it felt very easy to read, after about forty pages I knew that I wouldn’t be putting the book down until I was finished and I was so glad that I took the time to read until the end. Overall, the book was pretty much just one big fan fic but who doesn’t love fan fic?

Five out of five stars without even a shadow of a doubt.

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Though there have been rumours of a new ‘Busters movie for years I never really thought it would happen.  When it was announced that a new movie was not actually happening, like really happening, but that the cast would be all women, I was really looking forward to it. Despite the poor first trailer I stuck by it and stuck up for it, largely on the basis that it was another Melissa McCartney/Kristen Wiig/Paul Feig vehicle. I’ve been a big fan of McCartney and Wiig since Bridesmaids and a fan of Feig ever since he helped Sabrina with science in Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

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As I’m sure you can imagine I was pretty excited when I finally got to see it at the cinema. We paid our money and purchased overprice yet oddly plastic tasting snacks and made our way into the cinema.

It’s at this point that I want to tell you that I had the single greatest cinema experience of my entire life. Sadly, as a purveyor of truth, I cannot.

I had heard from reliable sources that the opening sequence was awe inspiring and simply perfect, maybe it was these high expectations I felt like I was waiting for the life changing moment to begin. It revolves around a tour guide at a ‘haunted house’ that turns out to be really haunted. I’m not trying to say that it was bad, it was pretty good  actually and kinda creepy. I just wanted more from it, it didn’t blow me away.

Next we get introduced to Kristen Wiig’s character, Dr Erin Gilbert. A rather straight laced professor of physics who gets fired from here job at Columbia University. Consequently she has to visit her old schoolyard chum, Dr Abby Yates, an eccentric person who loves Chinese food, played by Melissa McCarthy. Unlike Erin, Abby did not give up on her search for ghosts and proof of life after death. In her search she recruited Dr Jillian Holtzman, (Kate McKinnen) who is pure eccentricity and my favourite of all the characters. The last ‘buster to be recruited is  Patty Tolan, a sassy black lady played by Leslie Jones.

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I must admit that my inner feminist loved seeing a group of four women doing some pretty kick ass moves, and investigating the various strange going on in New York without having a man to lead them in some way (it should come as no surprise that it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours) . The only man to really be a part of the gang is Chris Emsworth as Kevin Beckman, the well meaning, but somewhat simple and misguided secretary. I loved the role reversal of that character, and I must admit that Emsworth plays it brilliantly, often stealing the scene. I hope that this film helps to inspire young women and know that they too can be doctors of science and fight the bad guy without needing a man, and most importantly that she can be a complicated character that is worth so much more than window dressing for the men to stare at (Michael Bay, take note!)

That being said, the main plot involving a loner trying to bring about the end of New York with some kind of strange machines that bring ghosts out of… Ghost… world? failed to draw me in the way I would have liked. It works, I was interested as to what this strange chap was up to, and it kept my attention throughout, I never got bored. I just felt that the plot could sometimes be thrown out of the window in  favour of a neato set piece, and overall could have done with a bit of tightening. I felt at times as I was watching it that it needed more of a world building mythology, as we had with the original.

holtzmanThough the acting standard was good throughout, I felt that Wiig didn’t really give her all, she could have really sunk her teeth into the character and gone all out, and it fell just short of that, with McCartney occasionally joining her. Perhaps it was the requirement of a 12A (PG13 in America) certificate that meant their performances were toned down a little. Though it must be said, again, that it was really refreshing to have strong female characters with a complicated past and feelings. Holtzman was my favourite character, she was just the right amount of weird with a slight tinge of creepiness dashed in for good measure, she is the archetypal mad scientist and I loved her.

pattyThere are laughs to be had here, and I did titter throughout. for me though there were just not enough belly laughs, not enough smart insightful jokes peppered through to make me really think, it at times could be a little silly and puerile. Patty brings most of the good laughs and has some of the best lines. I did find Patty a little problematic at times, for a film full of individual women kicking ass, I felt that she could sometimes slip into a little of a black stereotype, luckily Jones brings lot of intelligence and brilliant humour to the character so they just about get away with it. If there were to be a sequel, I would like there to be a little more development of Patty.

One thing that was no lacking are the effects, they are perfect and manage to bring about a creepy and grossness without going too overboard. I also really liked how they seemed to invoke the style of the original, but they have taken it and improved upon it to make some truly stunning scenes. The end scenes where all hell breaks loose are so well done and the proton beams really look amazing.

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There are many references to the original, some that work well, like the effects, and others not so well. I’m sure others may disagree, but I felt that some certain cameos did not work for me. In a film about kick ass women these moments almost felt like they were getting permission from the men to make this movie, permission they do not need. The film works best when it stands on it’s own two feet and travels down it’s own path, to create something new and original, not just raking over old ground they desperately need to get away from.

This reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise has courted controversy from the moment it was announced, there has been a tirade of abuse from online trolls and misogynists who are under the misguided impression that women are incapable of being Ghostbusters. Whilst I do not believe this to  be a perfect film, I am pleased to say that it at least manages to put those notions to bed.

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The plot needed to be a little tighter, the comedy needed to be funnier and there needs to be less references to the 1984 classic.There are still great things here, the characters are kick ass, intelligent, individual and not dressed up in ridiculous, impracticable outfits, the effects are brilliant and you’ll have a rip roaring good time. It might not have blown me away the way I would have liked, but I still had a good time and you will too.

★★★☆☆

Since You’e Been Gone – Morgan Matson (Book Review)

I may be a little late to the party but I’ve turned up eventually.

Now for a while, I’ve heard a tonne of people rave about Morgan Matson and Since You’ve Been Gone seems to be THE book of the summer so I finally decided to pick it up and give it a go.18189606

Since You’ve Been Gone follows Emily, known in school for being Sloane’s best friends. Most people know Sloane and they’ve seen Emily at her side but they couldn’t tell you Emily’s name. One summer Sloane and her family gone missing, this isn’t uncommon but this time they’re gone longer than normal. Whenever Sloane and Emily have been apart, Sloane always makes a list for Emily to complete, knowing she won’t actually complete it. This year is different; Emily feels that somehow by finishing the list she will fine Sloane so off she sets on her crazy summer enjoying a list of things she would never have done before such as skinny dipping and stealing.

I didn’t think I would love this book but I was wrong. I originally thought that I would find it to be yet another young adult book (which it is) that focuses around romance but in the end I realised the focus was primarily around friendship and how important that is in life.

While trying to work her way through the list, Emily teams up with the good guy around school, Frank, his best friend and school joker Collins and a girl from the pizzeria she works next door to, Dawn. Although it becomes evident pretty early on that Frank will be a love interest, the story doesn’t focus solely on this. I loved Emily’s relationship with Collins, someone she never normally would have struck up a friendship with yet someone who was willing to accept her into their group without any questions asked.

Collins was a character that I generally loved and quite honestly I would have loved to see a little more of him. He’s that person we all know at school who acts silly and makes fun of everything around him because it’s his only way to feel confident. When he meets Dawn, he acts differently because it’s someone he genuinely likes and he’s terrified she’ll reject him. Collins felt so real to me because at that age, I knew a lot of boys like that and Matson paints a perfect picture of a teenage boy.

The romantic aspect of the book was done well in my opinion, I liked the fact that it was a little more serious than your typical YA love triangle and instead the issue with the romance was the fact that the love interest is in a committed relationship throughout the story. I liked that this posed a question as to if it’s ok to be attracted to someone who you know is off limits and I found it interesting to read how Emily dealt with the situation and how she struggled with her feelings.

Family life played a huge role in the book as it does with a lot of young adult; it was nice to see that there was more than one role portrayed within the book. We had Emily’s family who may be a little strange but there’s no doubt they love each other and although her parents can sometimes be in their own world, it’s clear that they will focus on their children if needed. Next we have Sloane’s family, her parents generally neglect her and leave her to do her own thing. Her parents obviously love her but they don’t seem to be around a lot and they’re not very responsible so Sloane becomes extremely independent. Last we get to see Frank’s parents, a couple who are very successful but who hate each other and are in the middle of a divorce. They’re often seen in public with smiles on their faces playing the happy family but anyone who sees them at home will know the truth. I thought this was interesting to show three very different relationships and to show how all them can be normal and how with good friends who you can confide in, it’s easier to deal with parents who are not always there.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, I read it pretty quickly, I enjoyed the writing style and story and it’s certainly a book I would recommend as a light summer read.

 

Stranger Things (2016) Review

I have done my best to give you an idea of what this is about without giving away the plot and the ending, as Stranger Things is best enjoyed spoiler free.

I just want to get this out of the way. Netflix is bringing about a new golden age of television on the internet. As it doesn’t rely on selling advertising space in order to make money, Netflix allows its shows more freedom to express themselves and they can afford to take more chances of smaller projects that might have been missed by short sighted executives who need to make a quota.

One of these projects was Stranger Things. It has become somewhat of a hit amongst Netflix subscribers. With it’s powerful and evocative story line, characters and 80s charm.

dungeonsThe story begins with a group of four boys playing Dungeons and Dragons when it’s home-time for the friends of twelve year old Mike who have come round to play. When he arrives home and there is no one around one of the group, Will appears to be attacked and consequently goes missing. The day afterwards a mysterious girl with a shaven head and telekinetic powers appears, kick starting a slow descent into the mysterious goings on surrounding the town of Hawkins, Indiana.

bikeWith it’s depiction of a great adventure on bikes, the resourcefulness of youth and having to hide a mysterious new friend from both The Authorities and parents, you can see how Stranger Things is clearly heavily influenced by those great 80s adventure films like The Goonies and E.T. All this comes together to give the whole thing an amazing charm and a sense of nostalgia for that period. It takes the adventure genre and manages to mix in a massive dollop of Stephen King mystery and thrill riding. The set pieces, the clothes, the movie posters, the music. Even the camera and direction style are all period accurate, and they all come together to create one of the best 80s series not made in the 80s.

winonaI must doff my hat to all the actors involved. Winona Ryder makes a triumphant return to form as Joyce, the beleaguered mother of missing child, Will. Her apparent descent into madness after the disappearance of her son was done well, and though to the outside world it may appear that she is simply going mad with grief, we as the audience are given snippets throughout to give her a method to her madness. The young children all give great performances, Finn Wolfhard as Mike and Millie Bobby Brown (who really shaved her head for the role) as Eleven, or ‘El’ for short are especially great managing to keep a sense of innocence despite some of the horrors they have witnessed. David Harbour as the police Chief Jim Hopper also deserves a mention for his performance as a man battling his own demons as he helps to search for Will and unravel the mystery surrounding his disappearance. It is important to note that they have used age appropriate actors of the roles of the pre-teen and teenager characters which is always nice to see. There’s something quite jarring about seeing people who are almost hitting thirty playing an 18 year old.  

Each episode is a chapter of a story, and though it never leaves you in the middle of the action, like Lost it does, it does have a cliffhanger at the end so you’re always begging for more. I watched it over two days, and I really regret starting it when I didn’t have a spare eight hours to watch it all at once. It manages to drip feed you the information perfectly throughout giving you answers or part answers to questions you’ve been gathering in your mind from the start. It always manages to give you just the right amount to get just enough to satisfy your hunger for more but never too much that you feel like you know what’s going to happen before it does. I would say that around episode seven (there are eight all together) there are one or two moments I felt it was running out of steam a little, but then it pulled it right back for the finale, which was 55 minutes of suspense and excellent payoff.

the gangAll the way through there is a sense of foreboding and terror that gives it an edge that makes it hard to tear yourself away from the screen, though it always makes sure to take a break from the tense energy every now then to show kids just being kids and having fun. Which can be a nerve settling release when you’ve just spent the last twenty minutes on the edge of your seat shouting at the screen for the characters to be safe. Which is probably my biggest criticism, it was so tense and nerve wracking at times I found myself getting a little exhausted.

All of this terror giving way to relative calm is beautifully tied together by the music, which is quite possibly my favourite thing about Stranger Things. The synth wave based soundtrack has been lovingly constructed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. It serves to really draw you in, and perfectly balancing the soft, gentle moments and the more intense scenes perfectly, it really gets under your skin and is another mark of how Stranger Things is able to effortlessly evoke that 80s feeling.

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80s movies.  Stephen King. Really good kids adventure movies. Really good mystery thriller films. Great acting. Well played out story. Great Directing. Great Writing. Amazing Soundtrack. If you love at least one of these things then you will enjoy Stranger Things and I wholeheartedly recommend you watch it at the first available opportunity.

★★★★★

 

Stardew Valley – PC Review

I don’t have that much of a history with farming games. I’ve tried the odd Harvest Moon game over the years and I am a fan of the Animal Crossing series but there’s never really been a farming game that held my interest for very long. Perhaps the living through the dark days of Farmville on Facebook soured me on the whole concept.

 

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But Stardew Valley is nowhere near as insidious as a crappy Zynga Facebook game, it’s actually one of the most pleasant gaming experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

 

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In Stardew Valley your character starts out working a soul crushing office job for the evil Joja Mega Corporation. Just as your character is at their lowest they remember a letter they received from their grandfather informing you that you’ve inherited the family farm in the picturesque town of Stardew Valley. So you quit your office job and move out in the country to start your new life. You arrive late at night and only have time to chat to the mayor before you turn in. Once you wake up on the first day of spring this is where the game really begins.

 

The first thing you’ll notice is that the farm is a little bit of a dump. The ground is covered in rocks, grass, trees and fallen logs and you’ll have to clear a path so you can actually plant anything there. Luckily you start off with a full set of tools you’ll need which was the first pleasant surprise because usually you have to scrounge around for your tools in Animal Crossing and that’s always the most frustrating part. Every time you crack a rock or chop a tree down you also get resources like stone you can use for building, hay you can feed to your animals or tree sap you can craft into fertiliser.

 

This makes even the most mundane tasks fun because there’s an extremely satisfying pop sound every time you pick something up, it just feels so good. Speaking of sound the music in this game is great, every season has a slightly different theme but they’re all relaxing and very easy to get stuck in your head. One of the spring songs is so catchy I miss it when it changes to summer but it just gives me something to look forward to when spring comes back.

 

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Daily Grind

 

Once you get into a bit of routine most of your days will consist of getting up and watering/harvesting your crops then selling them so you can expand your farming operations. There isn’t really a set goal in the game, you’re pretty much free to make money however you want. You get some quests that will slowly introduce you to some of the different mechanics like building a coop for chickens or encouraging you to explore the landscape.

 

One of the things you’ll want to explore is an abandoned mine on the outside of the town. This is where you can get ores which you’ll need to upgrade your tools and to build some of the more complicated farm buildings and machines. You can find precious stones here too that you can donate to the museum for rewards or sell for some extra cash. This is also where the game becomes more of an rpg. There are monsters down there which you’ll need to take out before you can mine in peace and you can also equip your character with armor and better swords to make it easier. The deeper you go down in the mine the better the potential rewards can be so any items that speed up your spelunking adventures really help.

 

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Time Enough at Last

 

Almost every action you take in the game slowly drains your stamina meter, this means you won’t always be able to do everything you need to do in one day. Your character also can’t stay up past 2 am which I found out the hard way while exploring the mine. If you exhaust this meter or stay up too late all that happens is you wake up in the doctor’s office but they do charge you about 500 gold which at the start can be a bit steep.

 

You can easily use half of your energy just watering your plants in the morning so you really have to plan before you head off into the mines. You can take food with you to top yourself up but you don’t want to be eating too many crops either. Sometimes it can be a lot to think about but there aren’t really any strict time limits, you can keep playing forever because the year just loops.

 

One thing you do have to watch out for is the seasons because you’re spring crops will instantly fail if you haven’t harvested them when summer comes along. I got caught out by this on my first summer but it’s the kind of thing you’ll only mess up once. The game has a bit of a harsh learning curve at times, I do think they could have included some more tutorials as there can be a lot of trial and error when you first start out. There have been a few times when I’ve had to consult the Wikia just to figure out the basic game mechanics which I don’t particularly mind but it might put new gamers off.

 

stardew_valley_winter

 

Rancho Relaxo

 

The main thing that keeps me coming back to Stardew Valley is that it’s one of the most relaxing games I’ve ever played. Granted there can be a sense of urgency when you’re delving deep into the mines and it get’s a bit late but even then there isn’t much of a penalty if you mess anything up. The game lets you do everything on your own time which is great if you haven’t got the chance to play for hours on end. It also borders on addictive at times, I always find myself wanting to just do one more day which can often turn into about 20 more.

 

On it’s surface Stardew Valley seems like a simple game but there’s immense depth to be uncovered if you’re willing. It’s all the more impressive when you learn that this game was all made by 1 person (Developer Eric Barone). I really can’t recommend this game enough, its PC specs are so low almost any PC can run it and at the time of writing it was £10.99 on Steam so it’s definitely value for money.

 

★★★★★