Welcome to Everdream Valley, an inviting and cozy little piece of the world where your grandparents have a farm. Unfortunately, Grandma and Grandpa went on vacation for a while, and the farm has fallen into disrepair. They need help restoring the farm, and your parents have volunteered you! You’ll get to spend the whole summer with your grandparents, restore the farm, take care of adorable animals, and experience the magic that comes out at night!
An Abundance of Animals
I’m not sure I’ve played a game with quite so many animal options. Stardew Valley has a handful of the barnyard staples, Wylde Flowers has recently added more options, and so on. Everdream Valley, though, has a heavy focus on the animals, and I love it. There are pigs, cows, chickens, horses, ducks, deer, geese, alpacas, sheep, bees, wild boar, magpies, beavers, frogs, beetles, butterflies, mice, snails, and different kinds of fish. Nevermind the different variations of the farm animals. Each one has several different breeds, which makes for a colorful barnyard. Nevermind that they’re round, and you can pet them. You’ll even get to choose from a variety of dog breeds, and have a cute little kitty running around
At the time I played this beautiful game, the only way to get new animals was by visiting the merchant, then pet them to make them follow you, and run to the farm. Chickens you can carry, thankfully, as petting only makes them follow you for a whole 20 seconds.
Pair the 20 second time with the fact that they’re essentially feral unless they’re on your farm with their wooden sign. So they run if the 20 seconds is up, and you need to chase them to pet them again. This mechanic made some of the quests where you fetch critters, well, annoying. However, the Everdream Valley team listened to the constructive criticism and introduced a magic flute that makes animal following SO much easier. Play the flute and they’ll follow. Play the flute again and they stop following.
The map is HUGE… and lifeless. There are quite a few areas to run around and discover new animals, useful items to grab, and bushes and trees to take back to your orchard. From a beautiful forest, to lush fields, and winding rivers, Everdream Valley has a beautiful atmosphere, but the map is almost too big. You can’t walk through the rivers (which look more like shallow streams), so you’re stuck using a single bridge to access each area past the farm. Unfortunately, the bridges are usually not in a convenient position, so trekking across the map is a time-consuming undertaking. It is nice to just wander around and take in the beauty of nature, though.
That said, things feel a little empty, too. There’s you, Grandma, Grandpa, and the merchant at the farm. That’s all you have to interact with, besides the animals. It makes for a lonely experience, though it does allow you to focus on farming and quests instead of running around to build relationships with people. So, maybe it’s more of a nice little break from the norm.
Every night you dream of a talking scarecrow who shows up with a handy roulette wheel. Spin the wheel to see where your dreams take you. Perhaps you’ll be a duck fighting to get her ducklings in a row, or a goat jumping across an obstacle course, or even your trusty dog defending the farm from thieving wolves.
The way these minigames are used make for an interesting change from the usual. What minigame you play will be different night to night (unless you have bad luck like me), and you can even skip them altogether. You forfeit any rewards you would have gotten from them, but I really enjoy having the option to just not do the minigame when I’m not feeling like completing them. Some of them are a little annoying, too
I’ll admit I’m not the most dexterous gamer, so maybe it’s on me, but I felt like the goat minigame was difficult when simply walking knocked over obstacles, which reset the game. Or the magpie game was difficult to maintain an appropriate flying height without crashing to the ground. My biggest complaint is the wolves not only stealing your sheep if you don’t chase them off in the dream, but they break SO many fences. I dreaded spinning that minigame, but much like the addition of the magic flute, the Everdream Valley team listened and added a mode that made the wolves a lot more lenient.
I know I brought up a few issues I had with the game, but overall the game is nice. There’s no pressure to complete quests as soon as possible. Run around and explore, farm, and decorate your treehouse whenever you wish, and complete those quests as you feel like it. And we can’t forget Grandma and Grandpa. Aside from giving out quests, they’re not just there for random conversation. Every morning Grandpa actually gives you crops and animal products they’ve collected, which you’ll need to sell to earn money to buy more animals.
What’s really great about this game is their development team. It’s not a perfect game, but instead of ignoring player feedback, the devs accept it graciously, then actually implement changes. From the magic flute for easier animal following, to the more lenient dream wolves option, Everdream Valley has seen quite a few excellent quality of life changes in their recent update. There’s now object rotation to make decorating easier and better. You can now turn off animal breeding, too, if you’re being overrun by babies. And for those of us who get motion sick, a crosshair has been added to give us a visual anchor for smoother, more enjoyable gameplay.
There’s a LOT of great work going into this game, it seems, and I’m excited to see what new features get added.
Overall, I’d give Everdream Valley