I was a farmer in a past life. I have, at the very least, romanticized the idea of farm life. Every time I see a farm sim game, I will at least stop and give it a once over, maybe watch a gameplay trailer. I don’t care about the appearance, the style, or the system it comes out on, as long as I can farm, or simulate some type of farm-like gameplay. I’ve played great ones and some less than great ones. Everdream Valley has the look and basic presentation of a good one. The friendly-looking characters, cute animals, and music that fits. Honestly, it looks similar to a lot of farm sim games, and I’m cool with that. I don’t need anything to be groundbreaking, just not game-breaking. I do need it to be fun, though, and Everdream Valley is not fun.
It’s vacation time, and your mom drops you off to visit your grandparents and their farm. Lucky for your grandparents that you’ve come to spend the summer here because there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Apparently, hooligans or some dastardly neighbor kids have trashed the farm, and your first job is to pick up trash. At first, I thought it was a bit funny to be picking up trash, as it is different from the typical clear-out the trees, bushes, and rocks of your new homestead. Something different that still teaches the ropes. I also find it amusing that Everdream Valley takes place during a never-ending summer vacation; you can play forever. I picture two kids in the back of a dark barn humming the words redrum over and over.
The vibes of Everdream Valley are far from horrific. In fact, the farm is a pretty cozy-looking place. Sure, your elderly grandparents can’t do as much as they used to and the farm is in a bit of disrepair, but it passes the vibe check. In most farm sims, the early days feel like a drag. I am happy to report that the same feels true here, and not in a significant way. I expected it to feel slow, and the first few days feel that way, but they went by fast enough. Everdream Valley has no timetable for anything, so there is no hurry to learn the ropes of farm care; they will be learned, but hey, no pressure.
Early on, you find yourself searching for your grandpa’s missing chickens, fixing coops, picking up trash, and searching for your grandma’s lone cow. All the story progression is tied to story quests. If you want the material to fix the bridge and see what is over there then you have to do quests that will give those items. You can also chose not to do them and stick with what you have. I loved not being forced to do more than I wanted to. If I want to focus on animals then I can just do the quests that allow me to do that. If I want alpacas, I search out the alpaca quests. Same with goats, or any number of animals. Main quests unlock blueprints or tools to help fix bridges, that can lead to more chores, or a giant rock you can finally smash when you have the correct tool. The reward for completing quests is more farm work. When I say it like that, it sounds negative. There will not be a follow-up sentence explaining how it is not.
Everdream Valley gets its name from the dream-like sequences you get every night. These are often presented out as mini-games. Sometimes you play as your newly adopted dog who has to chase wolves away, or fighting evil ducks that you also have to fight in the waking world. Any time you get a new animal for the farm you’ll receive a dream featuring them that night. These dreams also serve as a backdoor to more of the story of Everdream Valley wants to tell. Something about a young girl who once lived in the valley and could talk to animals. These did very little to satisfy me, and I found them more annoying than anything after few times. The mini-games never change or become more of a challenge, and just feel like something to fill time.
Speaking of getting new animals for the farm, boy does that suck. When you get a new animal, you have to go and pick them up. Each new one needs to be herded back to the farm, and that’s when Everdream Valley feels most like a chore. It is not fun or entertaining. I better understand the term herding cats. At least taking care of animals doesn’t feel too time-consuming. There is always something for you to get done on the farm, and sheering ten alpacas isn’t something that happens instantly, but it is part of the gameplay loop that I enjoy. There is nothing new or groundbreaking about the upkeep you do in Everdream Valley, but the overall loop is fine, almost fun when you put some headphones in and listen to a podcast.
The other two big elements to Everdream Valley are crafting and farming. You can make furniture, chicken coops, or even medicine for your animals. I found it funny; no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t actually kill one of my animals, just make them sick. I also never had the option to send my cows away to be slaughtered, not that I wanted to, but still. When it comes to farming I also don’t have a lot to say, good or bad. Some of the automation features, like the auto harvesting, work well. They save a little time, feeling like a step forward in the genre. Other parts, like having to run a hose from one sprinkler to the next (making my farm look trashy), feel like a step back.
There are other notable bits to Everdream Valley that I found to be good, but came with caveats. The overall size of the game world is decent. So much so that having a horse to help traverse the expanse is useful. But there is no fast traveling, something that could really make my time playing more pleasant. There is a large variety of produce for you to grow. But carrots, eggplant, and tomatoes are all you need. A lot of the food crafting requires one of those three vegetables, I found myself only focusing on them.
I also had the same issue twice with two separate quests not finishing when I could see I had done everything the quest required. Luckily the autosave isn’t terrible, I also save my spot in games more often than I should, so reloading up the previous save and then doing the quest again fixed the issue both times. The game will also freeze for a few seconds randomly.
When it comes down to Everdream Valley, I never felt addicted. I want to be drawn in, swept away by the allure of farm life. Instead, I’m trying to herd a goat back to my farm. I never felt a real connection to my grandparents' farm. Even the pet dog I was given didn’t give me much in terms of sentimental value. There is plenty to do, farming, crafting, fixing up. None of it is terrible, but none of it is fun. But for the retail price of $24.99 you get a farm sim that runs, most of the time, and has plenty to keep you busy for hours on end.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).
While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).View Profile