Stardew Valley is an adventure RPG and country-life simulation rolled into one. It's a dose of Terraria and a dose of Farmville (but without the Facebook wall spam). Maybe it was my love of Terraria (sleeper hit of 2011) that drew me into this game, despite farming not being of particular interest to me. Though developer ConcernedApe doesn't list Terraria as an influence, it's quite obvious after watching the videos. But don't worry – this is no clone. Some of you may also see the influence of the Harvest Moon series, but I've never played those games, nor are they for PC, so I think Terraria and Farmville are more apt comparisons.
You control a boy or girl who has just moved to Stardew Valley to begin a new life. You'll get to customize your skin, hair, eye, and clothes colors, but aside from that, you start with nothing but an overgrown field. The goal of the game is to turn this land into a thriving farm. If you want to receive the coveted title of "Stardew Hero", you'll have to prove yourself worthy and beat out the competition in just two years (no mention of how that equates in real-world time). You'll gather resources, plant crops, fish, and more. However, the game doesn't end there – you can keep playing forever even after the competition ends.
But if farming simulations may not be your thing, don't worry, there's plenty more to do in Stardew Valley. Like Terraria, this is an open-world game. Not only do you have the whole overworld to explore, but there's also a vast, mysterious cave to traverse. It's in this cave where the game starts to look and act more and more like Terraria. Instead of explaining it to you myself, here's what ConcernedApe wrote about the cave system:
The Stardew Valley caves are uniquely generated each time you start a new character. Your progress in the cave is saved, so you don't have to worry about making it to the bottom in one day. As you dig deeper and deeper, you'll encounter new and dangerous monsters, different environments, valuable gemstones, raw materials for crafting and upgrading tools, and mysteries to be uncovered.
Within the cave (and maybe above it too?), you can come across a variety of ancient artifacts that you can then turn into the local archaeology office for reward. Since ConcernedApe says "strive to discover every artifact!", expect there to be an achievement tied to finding them all – and also expect that to be no small task.
If you prefer a little character interaction and narrative in your RPGs, Stardew Valley has you covered there as well. There are over 30 unique characters living in the Valley, with their own daily schedules, secrets, and of course problems they need help with. But what good is starting a new life if you cannot share it with a loved one? Stardew Valley will feature ten bachelors and bachelorettes looking for some loving. Date around, find the perfect match for you, and marry him or her (same sex marriages are confirmed as possible as well). After you do, your new spouse will live on the farm with you and help you with chores!
While it seems like I may have listed a lot of features already, I'm not done yet. What good is an RPG without character progression? As you progress in the game, you'll level up and earn points to distribute into six different areas of expertise: farming, mining, digging, fishing, foraging, and luck. You'll also learn new crafting and cooking recipes, with over 100 recipes awaiting your discovery. While some recipes will yield useful items like temporary stat boosts or furnaces, you'll also be able to craft a variety of decorative items to furnish your house.
As you can see, there is a lot to do in Stardew Valley, but I left out what many may feel is the best part – the game will feature drop-in/drop-out online and LAN co-op for up to four players! Help out on your friend's farm, have him or her help on yours, or work entirely together the whole time. And yes, if the NPCs don't do it for you, you'll be able to marry another player, though I guess you'd then lose the benefit of an NPC to help with chores. Stardew Valley is expected to release some time this year and cost around $10 USD.