Game: Everdream Valley
Genre: Adventure, Simulation, Lifestyle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows+SteamDeck playable (not yet verified) ), PS5 & Xbox One)
Developer | Publisher: Mooneaters | Qubic Games
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $24.99 | UK £22.49 | EU € 24,99
Release Date: June 22nd, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Games Branding.
Remember the days when Animal Crossing, the Sims and Harvest Moon were pretty much the only games available to jump into a simulation of virtual life, allowing you hours of fun without stress, goals and action? These days, thanks mainly to indie developers, we have ample choice of lovely simulation games, especially in the farming genre. Everdream Valley is a new one, a farming adventure with a dash of magic. By day, you restore your quaint homestead into a summer paradise. Raise crops, care for animals and rebuild to your heart’s content. At night you can inhabit the various farmland creatures through your dreams and bring enchantment to the valley.
By the way, already bought the game? Here’s our guide to get you started on Switch!
The game has been out on Steam since the end of May 2023. Everdream Valley has now made the leap to consoles. Let’s see how much fun it is to sow crops, tend to animals and build your own farmstead.
A Good Quest System with Tutorials
A luscious green haven waits for you as you are dropped in your grandparents’ care for the Summer. They own the farm, but they have been away from it for some time too, and now there’s a lot of garbage everywhere, the animals are roaming free, and the crop beds are gone. It’s your job to lend a helping hand (your grandparents aren’t getting any younger) and build the farm back to its former glory.
The tutorial for Everdream Valley is wonderful. It’s fed to you in small portions using quests. And all the quests are given by your grandparents. Starting out with simpler things and quickly building up, but never so overwhelming that you can’t keep up. Some are mandatory to keep the storyline going; others are just for your own liking or the reward attached. The critical ones give you a reward you need to enjoy progress in the game. Or the grandparents give you items when issuing the quest that you need to succeed. For example, it’s only after you have brought 6 sheep back to the farm that grandma gives you the shears you need to get wool. And wool, in turn, is needed in recipes like animal medicine that you need to cure the cow before it is able to give milk.
Sometimes you get the feeling that the game is just being finicky. I mean, even though my cow had a nice enclosure, a shelter, and nice high grass, the quest wasn’t complete. Nope, I needed to put a Cow Sign in the enclosure, and that meant I could tick off the quest. It’s important too to go back to grandpa or grandma, depending on who gave the quest, to get their sign of approval and the reward.
Of course, it doesn’t start out with cows or sheep. The first order of business is to repair the chicken coop and get the three chickens back. To repair the kitchen, so you can make your first recipe when the chickens have produced eggs: scrambled eggs! That’s the way Everdream Valley progresses, there’s always something to do or a quest to follow up on. After all, a farmer’s work is never done!
From the start, Everdream Valley has a good variety of crops, fruit trees and animals. Not all areas are accessible from the start, giving you something to look forward to. You get a dog and a cat to help you in your duties on the farm, but training them can be a bit of a pain. Especially the cat, that you have to lure through hoops by using a cat toy. The dog isn’t as bad to train; you only need to throw a stick for it. Sadly, they won’t stay attached to you, it’s a minigame you have to repeat to keep their affection levels up.
It’s not always peachy as far as the other animals are concerned, either. There are bees that sting you and geese who love nothing better than to bite you, even when you are not provoking them. Both will cause a steep drop in stamina, and you can’t replenish that by sleeping. You need to eat to get the stamina back or use the medicine.
When you’re out late at night, you can stumble upon a wolf with glowing red eyes. Nothing much happens at the start of the game; you just fall asleep instantly, and pretty soon, you are greeted by a new morning.
As soon as you have done the Scarecrow quest, though, you can dream at night. And meanwhile, enter the mind of an animal. The first time this happens, you enter the dog’s mind, and it’s your job to keep the wolves away from the sheep pen. If you fail, you will even lose precious sheep! It’s not really a battle though, you have to be alert to see them and chase them off by running towards them. Either way, you might wake up to evidence that the farm had midnight visitors, like I did, with several fences broken and the sheep exploring my crop beds.
Though I love my time in Everdream Valley I really don’t like the mini-games. I know just putting ingredients in the pan, clicking A and being done with cooking might not give much satisfaction, but the mini-game you have to do by pressing in the right direction at the right time gets annoying pretty quickly. And it’s not just for cooking; there’s a mini-game for sowing boards, training the dog and the cat, milking the cow, shearing the sheep and so on. I could have done without them, but that’s just my personal opinion.
What I like is that aside from the normal sowing, watering, harvesting and getting animal products, there’s a lot more to do. Dry grass and make the resulting hay into hay bales. Gather poop to make compost. And use insects to make them into nice animal treats. It shows an inventive way to develop a farming game, to think outside the usual methods!
Quality of Life
The Stamina wheel is a fickle thing because it doesn’t replenish when you sleep. You can top it up and even stretch the maximum by eating meals; the more ingredients, the better. As you need stamina for most everything, being bitten by a goose out in the middle of nowhere and not having any food on you can be a pickle. And really, you need that stamina to be able to keep up a good pace: walking really feels like a snail’s pace, so you need to run!
Some nice quality-of-life shortcuts have been made in Everdream Valley. For example, you get a basket on one of your quests, and that turns out to be a very handy addition. With that in your inventory, you will automatically harvest anything you touch and even catch the odd insect. And wherever you are, you can always send an item from your inventory to the chest. Sadly, you can’t use the contents of your chest automatically for cooking or crafting.
Visuals, Controls and Sound
In the background, a merry farming tune plays, easily stemmed by the many animal noises around you. It can get a bit much, but you can, of course, always turn it down. The controls on the Switch work fine, with the mapping of some of the buttons being a bit strange. I’m mused to actions with A, but here, X is often used. This means I can’t count the times that I accidentally put my sawhorse in my pocket instead of starting to make planks.
Visually is where Everdream Valley shines. The surroundings and the farm look lush green with many, many kinds of trees, flowers and whatnot. You won’t find other people besides your grandparents, but I don’t mind. They certainly kept me busy enough!
It’s your farm to create it as you see fit. Choose how you want to fence your cow pasture; there are several recipes for fences. You can make crop beds anywhere there’s grass; there aren’t any pre-ordained places for that. Want to have more chickens? Incubate eggs. Like to have a large orchard surrounding the kitchen? Sure! I really like that, this freedom of choice.
Everdream Valley is not flawless. There are some bugs, as is usual in this large game, where every little detail counts. But developer Mooneater is showing their commitment to the project by picking up the reported bugs and remedying them. That’s not to say that the bugs (aside from the ones that belong in the game) are plentiful; the only major one I encountered is that on Switch, you can’t move structures (yet).
What I love far outweighs these things; I’m enjoying my time on my farm immensely. Plenty of different crops, fruit, animals and things to explore. The addition of the night visions, when you inhabit an animal’s mind, may seem like a strange thing to add, but it works. It gives Everdream Valley just a little extra!
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot