Horrifying Stardew Valley mod gives NPCs AI-powered "brains"

Stardew Valley
(Image credit: Eric Barone)

There's a new Stardew Valley mod that uses AI to let you have unscripted, real-time conversations with the game's many NPCs.

Like in the vast majority of games, Stardew Valley's NPCs are all scripted to say certain things when prompted by the player, but a new mod available through NexusMods replaces their scripting with AI software that gives them distinct personalities as well as the ability to have unique conversations every time you talk to them.

If you've toyed around with an AI chatbot at all, it's kind of like that but in Stardew Valley. The mod uses the popular app Inworld AI to assign 33 custom "brains" to the game's villagers. You can also use Inworld yourself to create a new character and then use the mod to assign it to an NPC, either replacing the personality that's already there or giving a previously brainless NPC an AI brain.

Look, there is no way to write about this mod without using horrifically dystopian language. I know NPCs aren't actually living things, but I've never had to confront that reality so explicitly until now. The idea of replacing their pre-determined little personalities with AI-created ones is just... uncomfortable. 

I could see it being a fun novelty to have more realistic conversations with video game characters, but when you know those video game characters had to have their existing inner-workings hollowed out and replaced with the increasingly ominous power of AI, I can only imagine those interactions feeling incredibly creepy - as if it's not really them anymore. Plus, if it can happen to them it can happen to us, right? 

Yeah, this is getting too deep. Here are some games like Stardew Valley to help you forget everything you just read.

Need something to keep you busy while we wait for the 1.6 update? Take a look at our games like Stardew Valley list. 

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.