Stardew Valley has been out for years at this point and I have heard nothing but good things about the game. My wife has been playing it for quite a while actually and it was on sale recently on Xbox for $8 so I decided to pick it up. I have played a number of the farm/life sim games over the years and I even really go into Animal Crossing Wild World back on the DS years back.
Other than that though I have never really been captured by any of the life simulation games. I have played the Sims here and there and I have played some Harvest Moon games as well. Stardew has taken me by surprise though. It is quote simply one of the most relaxing and chill games I have ever played. It's too bad that it is not available on the Nintendo 3Ds because I really see it as an ideal portable game.
The music, the atmosphere, the coloring is all there. I am only in my first year and I have made it to the autumn season, and I just love how each season in the game has a completely different vibe. What's more, is that there are no fail conditions as far as I know. You are completely free to tackle each task at your own pace and while the initial premise of the game is farming, that certainly does not have to be a priority item for you if you do not wish it to be.
Perhaps one of my favorite features though straight out is that time doesn't pass when you log out. I know that this is a defining feature for Animal Crossing, but Animal Crossing is one of those games that demands your attention. If you aren't playing it daily it literally makes you feel bad when you miss a day. The life sim games have always been about playing them in short bursts for me. I might play and hour or two a week, play it for a while and then take months off before coming back again.
I think that Stardew quite simply might be the perfect life sim game and is by far the most enjoyable I have ever played.