I saw Everdream Valley advertised a while ago, and it was a game that immediately caught my interest, so when I got the opportunity to review it, I jumped at it. Just from the trailer, it looked like something I’d enjoy. I’ve always been a fan of cozy simulation games, but I often find that they grow a little repetitive, so the pure scope of Everdream Valley made me want to dive in and explore what it had to offer.
At a glance, Everdream Valley is exactly what you would expect from a cozy farming sim. It’s cutesy and cartoony with a similar vibe to popular games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. The landscape is vibrant, and the animals are adorably charming (except for the wolves and geese who will attack you on sight). In terms of graphics and music, Everdream Valley pretty much hits the nail on the head.
The game begins with a vacation to your grandparents’ farm. It’s seen better days, so you’re encouraged by your mother (who conveniently cannot stay with you) to help out. You don’t know a thing about farming, but you turn out to be a natural. Your grandparents will set you a variety of tasks to complete, ranging from repairing the chicken coop to tracking down your grandmother’s lost cow. You won’t be going it alone either – you’ll have your trusty canine companion by your side and a cat who will sometimes bring you bugs and mice. Even your grandparents will help out by handing over the things they’ve gathered each morning.
There isn’t a strict time limit to completing these tasks – you can spend your days however you choose – but it’s worth devoting at least some time to the main questlines because as you progress, you’ll unlock the tools and blueprints you’ll need to improve your farm and reach areas that were previously inaccessible. This is important because Everdream Valley features a fairly big map that goes far beyond your grandparents’ farm. Some areas, however, can’t be reached until you’ve repaired some bridges or have a pickaxe to break down the rocks that are blocking your path.
For the most part, the missions are well-paced. There are just enough to keep things moving whilst also giving you the freedom to play the game however you choose.
At night, you will experience some strange dreams. Some of them take the form of mini-games where you take on the role of your dog to defend the farm from wolves or a duck collecting its ducklings. Others allow you to talk to some of the animals on the farm who might have an idea why you’re having such strange dreams and help you progress through some of your quests.
Within the first few hours of the game, you’re introduced to crafting, the process of growing crops and cooking. With the day-to-day upkeep of the farm and its animals, exploration, and completing any tasks you’re given, there’s plenty to do around the farm. Simple tasks, like cooking and cutting wood, are made more engaging through the incorporation of mini-games – nothing particularly taxing, but they give you more to do than simply pressing a button.
As you might expect, animals play a key role in Everdream Valley. First, you have your cat and dog. By spending time and playing with them, you can train them to help you out on the farm. Your dog will help you herd animals, and your cat can help pinpoint sick animals.
Initially, your farm is pretty barren. You have a couple of chickens, but that’s about it; but things will soon start to pick up as you bring new types of animals to your farm. It’s great to see the farm grow, but some of the animals are pretty far away. Getting them back can be pretty time-consuming, especially when they have the tendency to try to run away.
Once you do get them back, you’ll need to tend to them. You’ll need to make sure they’re fed and healthy. The sheep will need shearing, the cows milking, and the chickens will lay their eggs. Their produce can then be used for crafting and cooking.
As you progress through the game and complete quests, you’ll unlock more blueprints for crafting and recipes for cooking, though the latter can also be found through experimenting with ingredients.
My only real gripe with the game was its controls. There are some games you play where everything just feels intuitive – you don’t even have to think when you’re pressing the buttons. Unfortunately, I found myself struggling with Everdream Valley. Even after a good few days with the game, the layout of the controls would trip me up, especially when it came to accessing and navigating through the menus and controlling your cat and dog with the cat toy and dog whistle.
Perhaps I’m being picky, but it just felt like some of the controls were designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind, so they didn’t quite work with a controller. These issues were minor though, and they didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the game.
Everdream Valley is a visually stunning game with a great deal of scope – so much so that I doubt I’ve even scratched the surface. From tending to your animals to collecting butterflies, there is plenty to do even when you aren’t completing tasks, so it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re playing. I also think that the developers could further build upon this even more with DLC and seasonal updates to keep the game fresh and relevant with new content.
Considering its relatively reasonable price tag, Everdream Valley delivers a great deal of content for us to sink our teeth into. It’s not going to be for everyone, but if you’re a fan of cozy simulation games like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing, it is definitely worth checking out.
Publisher: Untold Tales, VARSAV Game Studios
Platforms: PS5/4, PC
Release Date: 30th May 2023