Rusty’s Retirement Review: Charming cramped coziness

Jessica Filby
Rusty's Retirement

Designed as a cozy farming simulator that sits at the bottom of your screen, Rusty’s Retirement proves itself as a worthy distraction or addition to your everyday tasks – but does it fail to blossom in its own garden?

The premise of Rusty’s Retirement is unique, boasting an entire cozy experience all in the bottom part of your screen, allowing you to dive into a video, sort emails, or complete daily tasks. Rusty’s Retirement takes inspiration from a multitude of familiar experiences. It has some adorable farming, animal care, and farm design like Stardew Valley, but also allows for fruit collection like Animal Crossing.

However, it’s not to be compared to other titles as this game is a world away from the genre many know and love. That being said, does it blossom with the greats or is it doomed to wilt in its isolated garden due to its unique gameplay? We certainly don’t think so.

Key details

  • Price: $6.99 | £5.99
  • Developer: Mister Morris Games
  • Release Date: April 26, 2024 
  • Platforms: PC

A compact bouquet of beauty

Rusty's Retirement gameplay

From the offset, Rusty’s Retirement is beautiful. Its color scheme is bright but not overwhelming, and its soundtrack is just calming enough to act like some relaxing Lofi as you play. This is one of those games that’s perfect to have on in the background thanks to the ever-working adorable robots that bound around your farm.

Combine that with the various crops, buildings, decorations, and animals and you have a perfect pocket farm to create. In fact, there’s an abundance of features in Rusty’s Retirement to keep you entertained, whether that’s raising animals or upgrading machines to optimize your crop growth. As such, the title feels extremely replayable as I often found myself looking to create a farm based on animals, or turning my attention to crops.

However, as is its nature and layout, it’s hard to craft a cozy game that you don’t have to give your full attention to. Sure, you can purchase robots to help you plant, but that’s a late-game purchase, leaving you to place down the seeds every 5-10 minutes. As such, Rusty’s Retirement manages to find a tough middle ground between an idle game and a reactive farm sim, meaning you can complete other tasks, but will always need an eye on the farm.

Thankfully, that’s greatly aided by the self-running robots that inhabit your farm. You can create water bots, harvesters, and beekeepers or animal feeders to run the farm for you, meaning you’re only required to place seeds down (until you unlock the robot) or build more structures. As such, 90% of your gameplay is automated, which helps to keep it relatively idle, until the crops are harvested.

No space to grow

Rusty's Retirement animals

As previously mentioned, what sets Rusty’s Retirement apart from others in its genre is its layout. It’s certainly unique and inspires a whole different style of gaming, but it also introduces a cramped and often contradictory experience.

At their core, cozy games are made to be freeing, so confining such an adventure to the bottom of your screen can promote a bit of claustrophobic gameplay. The farm itself only has room for two plots of land on top of each other, forcing you to spread out and manage your space wisely.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it employs more space management and lets you work towards unlocking more space or organizing your farm design, which is one of my favorite elements of a cozy game. However, it does promote a certain type of gameplay, which can lead those players looking to build everything down a path they’d rather not tread.

The Verdict: 4/5

Rusty’s Retirement is an affordable cozy adventure that does everything it sets out to do. While it’s certainly a calming experience filled with visual beauty, its cramped style doesn’t do its gameplay any favors, forcing some busy space management into an already limited visual window. Nevertheless, it’s one of those games that will regularly be returned to, overlaying any boring tasks or simply adding a little more beauty to a screen. With such a small price tag and so much beauty, it’s hard to deny how lovely this game is.

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