If you can't go to a real bar, manage one in this lovely fantasy tavern sim

(Image credit: Louqou)

It's weird the things you miss when you're in a pandemic lockdown. I've been buying a bunch of shirts online lately because I discovered I miss going clothes shopping—even though I've always hated clothes shopping. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak I almost never went to pubs because I rarely ever drink anymore—but now that I can't go to a bar I suddenly very much want to go to a bar.

That's one reason Traveller's Rest, an Early Access innkeeper simulation, is so appealing to me right now. But it's not the only reason! There's a strong Stardew Valley and Graveyard Keeper vibe as you can tell just by looking at the screenshots, and setting up my little pub and serving guests as they wander in is extremely relaxing. (Even though occasionally a customer gets a little rowdy and I need to chase them out of my pub by hitting them with a mop.)

You begin Traveller's Rest with an empty tavern, put out a single table and a couple of benches, and open for business. At first you're just selling simple gruel to the colorful collection of heroes, adventurers, townsfolk, and occasional troublemakers who walk up to your bar. Some track in dirt with their boots, and the table gets messy after people have been eating for a while, so you need to clean the place as well as waiting on customers.

But that's just the beginning. Once you've earned a few coins you can begin expanding your tavern by adding equipment to your kitchen to make proper meals: Porridge at first, then soups, then more complicated dishes as you gain experience and access to new recipes and ingredients.

You can brew beer, too, as you unlock recipes for various ales, wines, meads, and even tea. Eventually you can add a farm behind your tavern and begin growing the ingredients you need, and once your tavern has built some reputation you can hire employees to take on some of the tasks like cleaning and serving while you work in the kitchen or tend to your farm.

If you're worried this all sounds a bit routine, there is a magic skill tree in Traveller's Rest (though it's not available yet in Early Access). I also watched a streamer playing, and it looked like he'd somehow acquired a magic broom to sweep the floors for him. It is a fantasy tavern, after all, so magic will play a part.

(Image credit: Louqou)

Work hard and make your customers happy and you can turn your pub into a proper inn by expanding to the second floor and renting out rooms to travelers. Soon your place will be bustling, just like bars and hotels used to be before we all had to stay out of them.

Final note: At first I was like, hey, this is cute and fun, serving people and wiping off tables and ordering supplies through the mailbox outside. But then a little cat walked into my pub. I can pet it, and I bought it a water dish and a little cat bed. It walks around purring and being cute and taking naps by the fireplace. 

Yeah. That sealed the deal on Traveller's Rest for me. Now that I have a pub cat, I'm definitely going to make this the best dang tavern in the realm.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.