The Brewpot is where we preview upcoming tavern games and more.
If there’s one product that actually let me believe in the innkeeping game as a genre, it’s Traveller’s Rest. For that reason, yah, I’m about to gush. It’s one thing to be able to visit a gorgeous tavern in familiar and unfamiliar spaces as a patron and it’s yet another to run one as a “tycoon” or “diner dasher,” but to run your inn free from budgetary projections, outright failure, and other dire consequences…is a true delight.
I just happened to stumble upon the game earlier this year on a random Google hunt for the Next Great Game. I immediately bought it and dove in. It did not, and has not, disappointed even in its early form. It remains in early access on Steam right now and is still in hard development. Recently the project was taken over by Isolated Games from the original one-man show run by Louqou. They are revamping the graphics, adding in new systems, implementing controller support for eventual console release, and so very much more.
That said, consider all this in the context of early access and know we’ll have much more to say about Traveller’s Rest in the future!
At first glance Travellers Rest seems to sink straight into that tub of Stardew Valley clones. In some ways it is just that: Stardew, but you get an inn. In many ways it’s not, at least not yet. There is no combat and, of course, the focus is on being the proprietor of an inn
You keep a garden out back and order the ingredients you are unable to grow. You have a work room with a grinder, a mash tun, a fermenter, an oven, all the tools one needs for tasty food and tastier booze; you unlock rooms to sell and a cellar in which to age your goodies; you level up your inn via reputation and earn new things to do; there is an inn cat.
So far there isn’t much out of the ordinary. And yet, somehow, all these pieces put together have created what is, for me anyway, the best and closest representation of what I want in a tavern game. At least an innkeeping game.
The clock ticks away all day. Will you spend that time brewing? Cooking? Farming? Rearranging your inn for maximum capacity and comfort? Or are you ready to open? Once you’re open, are you running drinks yourself and scrubbing tables or will you hire help for that? Are you cleaning up the rooms left disgusting by your patrons? Do you call the maid?
There is much to do and many ways in which to do it. Player agency is up front. And yet unlike some tavern games, rubbish tycoon games in particular, there is no wrong way to go. There is, ultimately, no pressure. If you choose to cook all day, perhaps to prepare for upcoming trends in food and drink, you will not be penalized nor face financial ruin. If you aggravate a customer, you might lose a little reputation but it’s far from the end of the world.
Toss in the cheerful music and pleasant pixel art (man am I a sucker for sprites in fire light) and the game is genuinely relaxing. It’s cozy gaming on tap. And that, dear friends, is what it’s all about; what this silly little blog is about! The tavern means rest. When we’re patronizing such spaces, at the tabletop or on a screen, we should feel at ease. When we’re running one it should, really, be the same.
I don’t want to feel like I’m managing an enterprise, I want to be behind the bar, seeing things go smoothly. That the stew I cooked gets to the table. That the porter I brewed is enjoyed. I want to hear (er, read?) the patrons talk about what a nice time they’re having. It’s silly, but that’s what tavern gaming is.
Traveller’s Rest hands this to us with more to spare. More to spare because this game checks each and every one of my boxes already and there are so many new features coming down the pipe: social systems, magic, and an expanding world to explore!
Check back soon, for I will have a brief interview with the producer of Traveller’s Rest!