As it grows colder here in the northern hemisphere, I find myself yet again creating a new save file for one of my favorite games, Stardew Valley. There’s nothing better in my book than cozying up to some tea and grinding away on my farm next to the quaint oceanside village of Pelican Town.
When Eric Barone finally released this masterpiece, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting the overwhelming popularity of his farming sim. The game has sold more than 10 million copies across all platforms, and if you’ve played it, there’s no secret why gamers from all genres adore this quaint, pixelated RPG. With a beautiful ambiance, complex relationships, and engaging game mechanics, Stardew Valley is one of those experiences that I can’t help but coming back to again and again.
That said, if you’re looking to find another game to ensnare you with a deliciously addictive positive feedback loop, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got six games you can play on PC right now that will keep you busy.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town:
Stardew Valley is described as an ode to Harvest Moon, the original farming sim which popularized the genre. To keep a long and dramatic story short, Story of Seasons is a part of the same series as the original Harvest Moon in all but name.
Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town, was re-released for Steam this summer, having been initially published on the Gameboy Advance in 2003. Talk about a throwback. This game is an ohmage to the original, with a few differences including new gameplay mechanics and upgraded graphics. For fans of the game, this is great news! You’ll be able to rediscover everything you loved about the original. And if you haven’t played it yet, no worries. Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town holds up well, especially with all the time and care the developers put into the remastered version.
My Time at Portia:
When you think of post-apocalyptic games, they probably involve bleak, barren landscapes with danger lurking behind every dilapidated building (with zombies, ghouls, or other aberrations for touch). You may be surprised to find that, like this next game, post-apocalyptic games can be wholesome, colorful adventures. Taking place a little over three hundred years following “The Day of Calamity,” the world is full of mysterious technological ruins and few humans, yet still maintains a welcoming atmosphere.
In My Time at Portia, developed by Pathea games, you’ll be taking on your Pa’s old workshop and helping the small town of Portia in its quest to prosper. While farming is one aspect of the game, there is a plethora of jobs you’ll be doing to upgrade your workshop and the town, enough to keep you plenty busy. Like Stardew Valley, there are quite a few eligible bachelor and bachelorettes with whom you can form relationships, as well as others you can foster friendships. Go on dates, explore dungeons ruins, mine, farm, and more. This game has it all.
Graveyard Keeper, by developer Lazy Bear Games, is touted as the “most unrealistic medieval cemetery management simulator of the year.” If that doesn’t pique your interest, then I’m not sure what will. As the name suggests, you’ll be playing the role of a local graveyard keeper who manages the cemetery for a nearby village. You may not be spending as much of your time in this game planting crops, but that’s only because you’ll be too busy planting corpses.
Players will face the type of ethical dilemmas one would expect from a morally ambiguous graveyard keeper -- just look at it as being efficient. Graveyard Keeper balances surprisingly beautiful pixel graphics with a plethora of engaging game mechanics, including resource management, crafting, and dungeon crawling. It’s worth a playthrough, especially if you’ve got a dark sense of humor.
Who knew amorphous balls of slime could be so endearing? Slime Rancher is an indie life simulation video game developed and published by Monomi Park. In Slime Rancher, you’ll take on the role of the ambitious Beatrix LeBeau, who has set out on a journey a thousand light years from Earth to make a fortune farming slimes. The open world setting, referred to as the Far, Far Range, is as cheery as it is intriguing.
Your goal will be to collect, raise, feed, and breed alien slimes. Slimes are inexplicably cute, gelatinous organisms which produce a range of different ‘plorts.’ These can be sold to upgrade equipment. It may not be growing crops, but this game holds true to the farming simulator genre. In August 2017, Slime Rancher won second place in Game Informer's Game of the Year award for Best Simulation Game. There are no physical NPCs in the game, but there are a couple characters you interact with through letters. Slime Rancher lacks the relationship mechanics found in most of the other games on our list, but it has something that none of the others do: slimy friends that will put a smile on your face.
Fantasy Farming: Orange Season:
If you’re looking for more of a copy/paste version of Stardew Valley, then look no further than Fantasy Farming: Orange Season by developer Tropical Puppy. These two farming simulators were cut from the same cloth. Everything from the pixelated graphics to the whimsical soundtrack make it clear Orange Season took a lot of inspiration from Stardew Valley.
There are a few differences. For one, you can tame wild animals and take them home as pets, and there is an interesting companion system which allows you to hang out with NPCs. As an upcoming feature, you’ll even be able to influence marriages other than your own with other characters. If you’re truly looking for a game that reminds you of Stardew Valley, I would start with this one. Please note that this game is still in early access.
Technically, just like the previous game, our final title is in early access. If you don’t mind playing a game which hasn’t quite been fully realized yet, then consider playing Kynseed, developed by PixelCount Studios. PixelCount Studios boasts an impressive and accomplished game team, with the developers of the Fable Series by Lionhead Studios.
What makes this game so unique and intriguing is its legacy system. In Kynseed, every single character dies, including the one you start out playing. You’ll take on the power of the Kynseed, which will allow you to control your family and business over multiple generations. This game sacrifices some of the more advanced farming mechanics in favor for a well-rounded, town simulation. If you opt to wait until the full version of the game is out, there’s at least a full year of development left.
Buy it here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/758870/Kynseed/
Conclusion: Did any of these games stick out to you? Which one would you most like to try? Let us know in the comments below!