The Ups And Downs Of Stardew Valley On Switch
Switch owners have plenty of ways to spend their time these days, with excellent indies like Golf Story and Steamworld Dig 2 recently hitting the system. However, if you’re looking for a game that will absorb dozens of hours and still beg for more, look no further than today’s release of Stardew Valley. The original version came out on PC last year, though it is also on PS4 and Xbox One. So how does the Switch version compare? After playing it for several hours, we’ve boiled down the major ups and downs.
Up: Stardew Valley is fantastic
First and foremost, you need to know that Stardew Valley is an excellent game no matter which platform you’re playing on. It’s a love letter to the retro Harvest Moon games, but with a more modern approach to progression. You unlock various perks and items as you rebuild the town’s community center and increase your skills. These tasks are accomplished by growing crops, befriending townspeople, fighting monsters, and more. Stardew Valley a leisurely simulation that pulls you into its idyllic world and rewards you for pursuing whatever interests you.
Down: Save/Load Times
Unfortunately, the biggest functional difference of Stardew Valley on Switch is not one that makes the game better. At the end of each in-game day, your progress is saved automatically. While this happens quickly in other versions, the Switch game hangs up on the saving screen for an unusually long time – usually about 20 to 25 seconds. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t terrible; Stardew Valley is all about taking a break from a busy life to slow down and appreciate nature, after all. However, when you’re eager to start up your next day of chores and socializing, this stall breaks up the momentum a bit – especially if you’re accustomed to other versions.
See one full day of Stardew Valley on Switch (including the long end-of-day save). Apologies for the unintentional audio buzz
One feature that got people excited for this release is how well-suited Stardew Valley’s structure is to gaming on the go. After playing for several hours, I can say that the excitement is justified; Stardew Valley works great as a portable title. It isn’t demanding on the gameplay front, so it’s easy to pause and return to without missing a beat. Completing one in-game day usually takes around 15 minutes, so you can pop in for brief sessions, or sit and play for hours no matter where you are. Plus, the old-school visuals (which still look great) don’t exactly need an advanced home theater to appreciate.
The touch screen is a unique advantage the Switch has over Stardew Valley’s other platforms, so I was excited to see how it would be implemented. I was expecting to use it for the sometimes-clunky inventory management, at least. However, Stardew Valley on Switch has no touch screen functionality that I could find in my time with the game. You can still navigate the menus using the traditional controller interface, though it never feels as fluid and intuitive as the mouse-and-keyboard option on PC. This isn’t a big strike against the Switch version as much as a missed opportunity; it was a chance to offer a unique and appropriate new feature, but that chance slipped by.
Up: “New” Content
If this is your first time playing Stardew Valley, you should know you are in for a long journey. I played the original on PC for about 90 hours before I felt like I ran out of fun stuff to do. At that point, I put Stardew Valley aside and went on to play other games. If you’re like me, you should know that a ton of new stuff has been added to the game since its initial release. New love interests, farm maps, and late-game activities augment what was already an enormous experience. So if you want to date Emily or Shane, or maybe choose a farm map that focuses more on fishing than farming, dive back in and see what’s changed. None of this is unique to Switch version specifically, but I hadn’t checked it out yet, so this new version was the perfect excuse to start another run.
Also, this seems to be a point of confusion, so it merits clarification: Stardew Valley on Switch does not have multiplayer…yet. Online cooperative play is an upcoming feature, but it will be released as part of an update in 2018.
Final Verdict: It’s good!
Even in the rare instances Stardew Valley falls a bit short on Switch, it doesn’t break the game or have a significant impact on your enjoyment. If you’ve been patiently waiting for the Switch version, you won’t be disappointed. It captures the essence and appeal of Stardew Valley in a way that is bound to welcome a brand new influx of farmers to Pelican Town.