Saturday, July 28, 2018

REVIEW: Stardew Valley Guidebook, 2nd Edition, Includes Multiplayer (book) by Kari Fry & ConcernedApe

Stardew Valley Guidebook is the official guidebook for Stardew Valley, a massively addictive game in which your player character quits their soul-sucking corporate job and moves to the rural cabin their grandfather left them.

There is no one right thing to do in Stardew Valley. At minimum, you need to keep track of your energy levels (and, in certain situations, your health points), but beyond that it's up to you. You can go fishing, get to know villagers, make friends or possibly find romance, grow crops, raise farm animals, or battle in the mines. The game started off as single player, but there's now an open beta for multiplayer, and a multiplayer update will be pushed out to everyone on August 1st. I haven't personally played multiplayer, and I don't know that this will change once the update is pushed out - the few posts I've read about it make it sound a bit stressful.

At the moment I have three farms in Stardew Valley: my first one, which is about 3 in-game years old, my second one, which is about 2 in-game years old, and my newest one, which I've had going for a couple in-game seasons. I started the newest one in honor of getting this book.

Prior to buying this, I relied a lot on the Stardew Valley Wiki. However, I found it annoying to jump in and out of the game to check things, or use my phone to search the wiki. Having a physical guidebook around seemed like a nice idea.

I hadn't originally planned to read this cover-to-cover, but it turned out to be a nice way to get a feel for its organization. To my surprise, the guidebook accomplished a few things for me that the wiki never did: I learned about events, characters, and areas of the game that I had never even thought to search the wiki for. I don't think I've ever been to the Winter Night Market, for example. I also had no idea about the existence of the Secret Notes. (Edit: I've since learned that at least some of this stuff is part of the beta, which I haven't been participating in. I assume these aspects will be available to everyone after the August update.)

The parts of this guidebook that I've used most often:
  • The seasonal calendars, in order to keep track of upcoming birthdays more easily
  • Character likes and dislikes
  • Prices of items or upgrades (so I know what I need to have on me before I make the trek to the shops)
  • Where and when to find particular kinds of fish
  • Which mine levels are the best places to find certain kinds of gems
  • How to trigger certain cut scenes
I've also learned lots of little things that should help me get more out of certain events and items.

Although I was a little disappointed, at first, that the illustrations were drawings rather than art directly from the game (except in the Appendix), I came to really like them. They capture the feel of the game well. Design-wise, I also really liked the color-coding on the edges of the pages. If you look at the sides of the book, you can easily figure out by the colors where you have to flip to in order to check the locations of fish (blue) or people's likes and dislikes (purple with white corners) or the seasonal calendars (green).

For the most part, I felt that this was an excellent and useful guide. There were, however, two things that could have used improvement. First, although many other items are pictured with their prices in small text somewhere nearby them, the section on upgradable farm tools only says what those tools can do, not what it costs to upgrade them. It took me a bit to figure out that their upgrade prices were listed elsewhere (on both the Blacksmith page and the Blacksmith shops section of the Appendix). This is a pretty nitpicky complaint, though.

Second, the book doesn't include characters' schedules. I consider this to be a pretty major omission. The closest thing you get is, on their likes and dislikes charts, a brief list of a few of the places they hang out. However, these lists are incomplete and don't go into the level of detail that, say, the charts in the Stardew Valley Wiki do. The Appendix would have been the perfect place for something like this.

All in all, this is a great guidebook if you'd like tips and charts designed to make certain aspects of the game go a little more smoothly. Although it technically spoils some game events (when certain areas of the game appear, for example), it doesn't spoil any character stories and certainly doesn't detract from any of the fun of getting to know the town and its inhabitants. Highly recommended for fans of Stardew Valley.


  1. Does it include Jodi Stardew Valley Guide aswell? Want to read more about her!

    1. The weird link in your comment indicates you might be a bot, but just in case you aren't, yes, Jodi is mentioned as well. The guide doesn't discuss any of her storyline (or any of the other characters') at all, though, so it's not like you'll actually learn more about her beyond some of her likes and dislikes.