Stardew Valley and Toxic Monogamy

I've been playing Stardew Valley lately. I've talked about how well it deals with mental illness and I found yet another example with the character Sebastian. He's clearly depressed and mostly manages it, but some days he just doesn't want to get out of bed. Or has to head off and stare at the lake for a while to be alone. It's a great detail that goes a long way in making the game welcoming.

Too bad they seem to have gone all in on toxic monogamy.

A quick run down for those unaware. You can marry some of the people in Stardew Valley. The process involved giving them gifts until they like you enough – as indicated by the number of hearts next to their name in the relationship screen – then you give them a flower boquet. You then raise their heart level a few more times and you can give them a special pendant. Boom, marriage. The end result is that they live in your house, build a little personal room connected to it, and generally act married.

The game lets you give a bouquet to each marriage candidate. That's where the progressiveness ends. Give every person of the same gender a bouquet then you get a group cutscene event. Hope you have a rabbit's foot in your inventory. Otherwise they all get pissed at you and give you the cold shoulder for a week. It doesn't matter if they're male or female.

So the game punishes you for doing something it allows you to do. What's the purpose of this punishment? You don't lose any hearts with the NPCs, but that hardly matters because there's literally no good reason for this. Know what there is a good reason for? Allowing you, the player, to actively date multiple people even after marriage. 

You could build your own little room area at their place like your spouse does at yours. They could add extra mini-games, too! Imagine making a music room at Sam's place so you can practice playing the mini-harp. Lord of the Rings Online had a mechanic that let you play an actual instrument via the number key, why can't Stardew Valley do that? Imagine building a training room off Pierre's store where you and Abigail train by getting a slime hutch, growing slimes, and then seeing how many of them you can kill within a set time period. Some kind of football throwing game with Alex. The list goes on. 

Creating more progressive options allows for a broader game. This is especially true when all the NPCs are demi-sexual in the first place. Even the NPC they explicitly say is gay will marry someone of the opposite gender presentation. So why, oh why, are the NPCs all against the idea of polyamory? 

How many times can I say there's no reason for it? Apparently at least one more time. Maybe the developers will change that in an upcoming release. While they're at it, I wish they'd also program the ability for Abigail to go down into the mines with me. That'd be cool of them.

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