Stardew Valley has been out for more than a year now, and yet for reasons I cannot accurately explain I have somehow managed to completely ignore it. I knew, of course, that it existed, that it was dominating Steam’s sales charts, and that its popularity was mostly due to the fact that it took everything we loved about Harvest Moon and made it that much better, including marriage; because why the heck is Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons still only “considering” same-sex marriage? But when Stardew Valley’s sole developer, Concerned Ape, and publisher, Chucklefish Games, announced that they were bringing the game to Nintendo Switch, it finally grabbed my attention.
Since then I’ve been Googling the keywords “Stardew Valley Nintendo Switch” pretty much every day. I crave any kind of update I can find, and I know I’m not alone because Chucklfish CEO Finn Brice (@tiyuri on Twitter) has been more than gracious enough to keep us updated at practically every step of the way. In fact, it’s because of Brice that we know the game was submitted to Nintendo, that it’s been approved, and that all we’re waiting now is a solid release date. In the face of all of this good news my hype became too much to bear, and about two weeks ago I finally caved and bought the game on Steam.
Needless to say, I’ve been utterly obsessed ever since.
I’m in love with Stardew Valley. I’m in love with its art style. I’m in love with the customization of the farm. I’m in love with the caves, and its sensible yet still challenging approach to progression. I’m in love with the townspeople. But more than anything I’m in love with Shane, and most of my 50+ hours in Stardew Valley has basically been dedicated to winning him over.
Marriage is one of the biggest goals of crossover farming-life similars like these, but I’d never really connected with them because of the fact that gay marriage isn’t really an option. It’s no secret that gay representation in video games, let alone any other media, is scarce at best, but it’s growing, and since Stardew Valley is the first of its kind to offer true gay marriage, I was extremely keen on taking advantage of and experiencing it for myself.
The only problem was: who should I go for?
My first choice was Sebastion, even though he was the physical embodiment of everything I was in middle school. Things didn’t really go anywhere with him, though, and for a while I was interested in no one. I gave gifts to different bachelors here and there to see how they reacted, to try and find some kind of connection with one of them, but the only person that really resonated with me was Shane. He was rude, apathetic, and miserable, but he seemed like a challenge, like there was more there than met the eye, so I made it my stubborn goal to at least try and get Shane to be a little bit nicer to me.
It took me the better part of an entire season to even figure out what he likes, but once I did it was all uphill from there. We became quick friends. He stopped telling me to go away. But I still didn’t fully know that I wanted to marry him until I saw his second or third heart event inside Marnie’s house. Spoilers be told, it revealed that he was not only struggling with alcohol abuse, but also severe depression. Mental health is another one of those things that video games don’t really deal with, so I was instantly drawn in. Shane’s struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts was so real, so painful, and yet os incredibly true to life. As we got closer, and our affection started deepening, he started getting better, and it made me feel really hopeful. He wasn’t perfect, but he was working on it every day, and I find this kind of statement incredibly important, not to mention moving. I gave him the flowers that meant I wanted to be his boyfriend in winter, and by the time spring rolled around I’d asked him to marry me. It was all so sweet that I’m pretty sure it gave me a cavity, and the fact that I was playing as a man, and marrying another man while the rest of the town looked on, celebrating our love, and never once trying to question its legitimacy, never once tried to suggest it was wrong, was refreshing. It makes me hopeful for the future.
I stopped playing after Shane and I’s wedding, but this is only because I want to save the experience of going to the desert, meeting all of the different hidden characters, and having children for when the game comes out on the Nintendo Switch. It may seem silly, but I don’t want to enjoy the game too much, or work on my farm too much, since I know I’ll have to start over soon anyways.
My first year in Stardew Valley was a blast, and I cannot wait to experience the next. I’m so obsessed with its world, its characters, and its message. I can’t believe I didn’t play it sooner, but I’m beyond thrilled that I’ll be able to play it on my Switch.
My only hope now is that we won’t have to wait for very much longer.
What do think about Stardew Valley? Which Bacheleor/Bachelorette did you go after and why? Tell us about it in the comments, or shoot a message!