While the Harvest Moon series are games that have been around for decades, Stardew Valley came onto the scene just a little over a year ago and took a lot of people by surprise.
At first, it might seem like you can only do so much in a game about farming. When I first turned on Stardew Valley, I was worried it would just copy and paste elements right out of Harvest Moon and ruin one of my favourite childhood games. However, Stardew Valley completely surprised me! It gives nods to other similar games like Harvest Moon, Rune Factory and Animal Crossing but it does a great job of setting itself apart too.
While I personally find both games to be a lot of fun, here are some differences I found between them!
Building Your Farm
Both Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley pride themselves on customising and upgrading your farm. You can plant as many or as little crops as you want and own whatever animals you please too. However, there is a slight difference that is a pretty big game changer to me.
As long as you clean up your land you can pretty much stick buildings wherever in Stardew, whereas in Harvest Moon, buildings all have their own specific spot to go. I really love being able to choose how my farm looks which is sadly a choice that is pretty limited on Harvest Moon.
Marriage & Friendship
Marriage always seems to be the main goal in these games, am I right? Making friends in both games is important, whether it’s to further a side-quest or unlock something special. For example, befriending the priest in Harvest Moon unlocks a door to the harvest sprites.
In Stardew, befriending the townspeople can prove to be really useful if you make the effort, too. Becoming friends with Marny will score you free hay in the mail which is really useful considering how expensive it can get later on in the game.
Your relationship with bachelors and friends in Harvest Moon is gauged by hearts in the conversation box or the way they speak to you whereas in Stardew, relationship stats can be pulled up in your menu. And of course, the way to anyone’s heart in these games is food and presents… basically like real life!
Exploration & Towns
Exploring in both games is definitely a major part of the gameplay and a great way to find new and rare items. The maps found in Harvest Moon games tend to be smaller than Stardew’s but for some people that might be nice. Yes there’s less to explore, but it makes it easier to run around town and do what you need to do before running out of time.
However, because of the size of Stardew’s map, and the fact that there’s a curfew, sometimes exploring can be a pain. I’ve found myself deep in the mines before getting dangerously close to curfew, weighing the option of just letting my character pass out and lose a little money so I can dig down two more levels, or returning home. Harvest Moon won’t automatically end the day until much later but it does count your shipment at 5 p.m. sharp, meaning that you can run around for as long as you please but make sure you forage first!
The towns created in both games are always really well done and events are fun to take part. Though there are some familiar events, each game has unique ones to offer as well. Harvest Moon games tend to have some fun animal-themed competition where you can win tickets and exchange them for prizes and Stardew has some cool events to attend like dances in the forest and a haunted maze for Halloween.
Fishing & Mining
Okay, probably the biggest differences between the games – fishing! While it was a clever idea make fishing a mini game in Stardew instead of simply casting your line and pressing a button when you caught something, many gamers were pissed off when they realised that the game is near impossible to actually complete until you finally level up your fishing skill a bit. Mining is also a little different but pretty much the same concept.
Harvest Moon has less enemies to battle and even freezes time while you’re inside, but exiting the mine means you’ll have to start over when you head back in. Mining in Stardew is time consuming and has a bunch of nasty enemies to fight the deeper down you get, but if you’re getting your ass kicked at least you can leave and come back to the same area.
A really cool edition is the Adventurer’s guild close by that offers a choice of cool weapons and armour to buy if you’re feeling extra gusty.
Harvest Sprites vs Junimos
In any farming game that includes these little guys, befriending them is a must! They help you a lot if you play you play your cards right. The Harvest Sprites in Harvest Moon gradually tend to help with crops and animals once you befriend them, while the Junimos in Stardew will repair things around town like (bridges and mining carts,) once you give them the bundles of items that they ask for. Both have equal work you have to put in but the results are totally worth it!
So there are the major similarities and differences that I noticed between Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon games! In my opinion at least, both games are equally really fun to play and timeless classics in my books. Do you have a favourite between the two? Let us know in the comments in below!