I recently started playing Stardew Valley on the Switch, and like so many others, I love playing this game! One thing it’s brought into focus for me are why retro style games with 8 or 16-bit graphics and gameplay are so appealing to me.
Sure, there’s the nostalgia factor if you grew up in the 80s and 90s, which is true for me, but I think there’s something more than that. What is it?
I’ve thought about this a lot and wasn’t totally sure for a while, but Stardew Valley made me realize that it’s the constraints in these games that I find exhilerating. These games provide a stark contrast to the next-gen open world games that are so vast and look so real they can often be overwhelming and hard to engage with.
Games like Stardew Valley seem to hook me much faster (and this is one of the more complex retro style games). The goals are more clear, the “levels” (seasons in this case) are much more distinct from one another, and there are more defined limitations in what you can do and where you can go. In short, the learning curve is less steep in some ways.
And despite these limitations, I find that there’s a lot of beauty in pixel art. Maybe this is the nostalgia creeping in, but it feels like the 8/16-bit look leaves a lot more to the imagination for me than the hyper-real next gen games.
What do you think? Why do you like (or not like) retro style video games? What others are you into?