Since its release, Stardew Valley has been a game to live out all of your escapist fantasies. Escape from your corporate hellscape of a job to rebuild your grandfather’s farm and reconnect with the simple life, where all you need is the four Fs: Fishing, Farming, Foraging and uhhh... Finally Getting a Date. While one of the biggest announcements when the Stardew Valley multiplayer update went live was that you could marry any of the other players on your now commune, provided they accepted, there’s nothing quite like romancing one of the NPCs in the Valley. No matter your sexual orientation or romantic preferences, there is someone for you in Stardew.
But let’s be real here—not all NPC love interests are created equal. If you’re going to marry someone and bring them home to your farm permanently, there’s got to be some thought in your decision. Luckily, we’ve got a list! Here are the top 10 marriage candidates of Stardew Valley. Unfortunately Alex and Emily didn’t make the cut; while we know that the small-town jock who's delusional enough to think he can join the NFL and the vegan that’s really into crystals are probably lovely people (probably), they’re just not marriage material.
No. 10: Elliott
A guy who doesn’t have a job and is procrastinating on his Great American Novel? No.
No. 9: Harvey
Harvey’s a lame boyfriend. Sure, he’s a doctor, and probably the most respected person in town besides Mayor Lewis, but he’s boring. All of your early cutscenes together are just him being a doctor and checking up on you or various townfolk. When you finally do get closer, he takes you up to his apartment above the clinic and shows you his model planes. There’s no romance! There’s no excitement! It’s impossible to find this guy after 3 p.m.! Plus, when everyone pairs up for the Flower Dance, he pairs up with Maru, his subordinate who is way younger than him. That’s a little weird, right? That means the only interesting thing about Harvey is his potential perviness, so... not necessarily husband material. He is a doctor though, so he has a pretty nice salary. No judgment there.
No. 8: Leah
While technically all the waifus and husbandos are “playersexual,” Leah’s the only NPC that explicitly refers to a previous same-sex relationship in her cutscenes. That’s cool! She’s living her authentic life as a queer artist in a tiny farming village, so props to her. But her art is what will eventually drive your relationship apart. Stardew Valley doesn’t have enough people to support a thriving arts community, so Leah will either have to move or constantly commute to the city. You’ll never see her as you toil away at your farm... so while she’s great, she’s much better as a friend than as a wife.
No. 7: Sam
Sam’s just your stereotypical normal dude. He’s got a traditional family: military dad, stay-at-home mom and a younger brother that likes mud and bugs. He likes to play music, ride his skateboard and play Nintendo games. He has a job, even though he lives with his parents, which shows that he’s responsible. You could do a lot worse (see: Alex) but you also could do a lot better.
No. 6: Abigail
Abigail is basically the female equivalent to Sam, but way more interesting. Does Sam have naturally purple hair? Did Sam’s mother probably cheat on her husband with the Wizard? Does Sam eat gemstones for power? Does Sam go out in the rain to play a flute and dance with woodland creatures? This is what we meant when we said you could do a lot better. Abigail’s a weird mix of a gamer girl, a goblin and a Disney Princess, which means that your life with her will always be interesting and unique, in that Manic Pixie Dream Girl sort of way. Plus, her “dad” smokes weed, so you can dip into his stash to chill out when farming gets rough.
No. 5: Haley
There are layers to Haley. Sure, she seems like a dumb blonde girl who’s incredibly snobby, but once you get to know her, you find out that she’s a dumb blonde girl who’s actually pretty sweet. Growth is important in a relationship, and when you start dating Haley, both of you grow together. She might be a bit more of a trophy wife than other marriage candidates, but she’s open about it and willing to try new things with you. What more could you want?
No. 4: Penny
Penny is the perfect Girl Next Door. She’s caring, unassuming and has taken it upon herself to teach Stardew’s resident children, who apparently wouldn’t go to school if she wasn’t teaching them. While she’s timid when you first meet her, she slowly opens up to tell you about herself. Vulnerability is essential to good communication! Penny’s also probably the only NPC who truly fits in with your farming lifestyle; she knows how to work and wants to raise a big family. While other NPCs might be more exciting or romantic, there’s nothing bad that can be said about Penny.
No. 3: Sebastian
Sebastian is the town’s resident edgelord. But instead of taking the Elliot approach of hiding away, procrastinating from what’s important, Sebastian has more control over his life. He works remotely as a software engineer, and he has hobbies like motorcycle riding and playing music. He also plays (a knock-off version of) D&D, and instead of excluding you, he teaches you how to play it with him! He’s the ideal nerd boyfriend, and while he longs for big city life, he’s really just looking for something to make life in Stardew a little more exciting. That something could be you!
No. 2: Shane
Look, he’s a sarcastic loner with a tragic backstory that raises chickens and drinks beer. I don’t have to explain myself.
No. 1: Maru
The running theme throughout this list is what makes for a good marriage. It’s good to have a balance between stability and excitement, which makes Maru the perfect wife. She’s a caring woman who works as a nurse, but also has an inquisitive mind that’s built for science experiments. You’ll never run out of things to talk about since she’s always coming up with new ideas, and because she cares about you, she’ll start inventing things to make farming easier, which gives you two more time to spend together stargazing with her telescope. Marry Maru. Marry her right now.
GameLuster’s Tuesday 10 highlights memorable, light-hearted facets of video games or the industry at large. The No. 1 is a hill no one should die on, but it’s a hill that should be admired from afar.