After a friend’s boozy Dungeons and Dragons brunch last week, his flat transitioned straight into a party. Although we ordered pizza and had plenty of carbs, we had begun drinking at 11am, and I continued to drink until the early hours of the morning. Suffice it to say, the next day was a struggle. In my weakened state, I picked up the perfect hangover game: Stardew Valley.
This hangover was one of the ones where you wake up at 6am tortuously awake and in pain. Unable to go back to sleep, I sat in the dark in my bedroom trying to think of a movie or television show that wouldn’t hurt my eyes too much. Usually I go straight for trashy reality TV in times like these, but I’d kind of burnt out on too much Vanderpump Rules and America’s Next Top Model. Then I remember the relaxing vibes of Stardew Valley.
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In handheld mode on your Switch, Stardew Valley is the ideal activity for someone who is bedridden with a headache and dicey stomach. I immediately turned the volume all the way down, though I was a little worried that this was going to lock me out of activities that require audio cues like fishing or fighting monsters in the mine. It turns out the Joy-Con’s forceful but not overly aggressive vibration made both these activities as easy as they were with the sound on, especially the fishing.
Almost everything you do in Stardew Valley is rote. I didn’t need to use a whole lot of my brain to water crops, talk to villagers, mine rocks or cut down trees. Fishing in Stardew Valley is usually my most hated activity, but when I was too hungover to turn the lights on, it was perfect. I stood in one spot on the map, cast my virtual fishing line, waited until my Joy-Con vibrated, and then pressed a button until I caught a fish—repeat ad nauseum. I still got the dopamine dose from catching rare fish, selling the excess for money and levelling up my skill, and I used almost no brain power to do it.
Like a lot of people in their late twenties, I pretty much have a science to how I get over hangovers. I’ve got my rituals of hydrating drinks, foods to settle my stomach and I know how to make my room as dark as possible. One thing I haven’t figured out is how to beat the tedium of feeling sick. Stardew Valley doesn’t want anything more from me as a player than to relax, play at my own pace and escape into a gentle, friendly world. I was so happy to have it at my disposal last Sunday, and for every hungover Sunday to come.