Idle farming sim Rusty's Retirement allows you to pour hours into farmwork whilst still doing other things

A farm with animals and crops on in Rusty's Retirement
(Image credit: Mister Morris Games)

Farming simulators have garnered a reputation for being the ultimate cozy gaming experience, yet I can't help but find myself getting too wrapped up in mastering ranch life. Gone are the days of cluelessly buying seeds and animals just because they're cute. Now, it's all about seasonal crop optimization for max profit and investing in animals that have a bountiful gold turnover.

Because of my need to optimize every inch of my farmyard, the relaxing nature of these games quickly dissipates. That was until Rusty's Retirement came along and reminded me how to take a backseat and appreciate what these games are supposed to be about in the first place. This idle farming simulator that sits at the bottom of your screen doesn't make you stress about how to maximise your profits, and instead just keeps ticking away in the background while you potter around with your real-world tasks. 

You start with a very bare-bones barnyard, a handful of gold, and three crops to choose from. Rather than having to manually move Rusty—the retired robot responsible for caring for the land—all you have to do is click where you want to plant things and he will do the hard work himself. Progress isn't instant, as Rusty will leisurely stroll from plot to plot. After all, he's retired and in no rush to do anything, so you're forced to do the same. As you progress, more options for crops and buildings open up and before long you can automate the farm with various robots to make things more efficient but, once again, this takes time. 

Because Rusty's Retirement sits at the bottom of your monitor rather than requiring your full attention and entire screen space, it's incredibly easy to get distracted with other things while it's open in the background. But, unlike other farming simulators that run on a day/night cycle and punish you for staying up too late, you can leave Rusty's Retirement open for hours on end without suffering the consequences. 

Instead, things will quietly tick over until you've got more time to devote to it which, as someone who feels pretty all or nothing with farming sims, I appreciate massively. There's even a focus mode that slows down crop production so you can spend more time locked into whatever task you have to complete while Rusty happily farms the day away and waits for your next command. 

A desert farm in Rusty's Retirement with crops growing and a few robots

(Image credit: Mister Morris Games)

There's also no worry about reward or payoff. Your crops make gold, which you reinvest into your farm, or you can use your crops to create biofuel for your robots and increase their efficiency. Everything you do will have a positive impact on your farm for a change, and there's no need to worry about making the most of the seasons or rushing to build new things before the year is up. Not having to adhere to the time of day or changing of the seasons removes a lot of the desire to optimize, and is a refreshing change of pace from what I'm used to. 

The promotion of "everything at your own pace" really helps to set Rusty's Retirement apart from the mass of other farming simulators gunning to be the most relaxing, because even when you're just rotating the cultivation of a single crop, you're still benefiting from it. 

As someone who was starting to feel burnt out from repeating the same steps of getting set up in a farming simulator and wasting a few days gathering gold from cheap crops, Rusty's Retirement has reminded me of how farming simulators are meant to make you feel—completely relaxed and ready to secretly spend hours working away in your virtual field. Let's just hope that I continue to keep it ticking away in the background rather than letting it consume me like most farming games tend to do. 

Kara Phillips
Evergreen Writer

Kara is an evergreen writer. Having spent three years as a games journalist guiding, reviewing, or generally waffling about the weird and wonderful, she’s more than happy to tell you all about which obscure indie games she’s managed to sink hours into this week. When she’s not raising a dodo army in Ark: Survival Evolved or taking huge losses in Tekken, you’ll find her helplessly trawling the internet for the next best birdwatching game because who wants to step outside and experience the real thing when you can so easily do it from the comfort of your living room. Right?