It’s well and truly winter down in Australia and we’re still on the tail-end of a pandemic, so who could blame you for wanting to hunker down under the covers and snuggle into a nice and cozy game (even if it’s just for a few hours). The only trouble is, what, out of the hundreds upon hundreds of titles out there is worth your precious time? Lucky you’ve got me to ease the burden!
Little Witch in the Woods
Let’s start with something new! Little Witch in the Woods only just entered the early access program on steam last week, and it’s already hooking it’s players with everything it has to offer. It’s another very cozy community and crafting sim, that’ll have you spending the bulk of your time collecting various materials to brew potions or helping various townsfolk with whatever task they may need a hand with. The game is undeniably cute in it’s art style and ‘gentler’ approach to witches, sharing a lot of similarities with a few other titles further in this list. If you’re looking for something new to scratch that very specific itch, grab your broom and prepare to brew some potions, because Little Witch in the Woods is one worth jumping on early!
Lo-fi, jazz, pixel art and coffee. If this game isn’t softly yelling cozy to you, I really don’t know what else will. Coffee Talk is a relaxing experience where you play as a Barista in a fantasy-themed Seattle, in which you take your patrons orders from elf to mer-person, and brew them the perfect cup of coffee. Think Cooking Mama but a lot more laid back. I would have never guessed in all my sessions of DnD that the angry Half-Orc just needed his morning Latte to calm himself down – the more you know!
You would sincerely hope that a game with the title ‘Cozy Grove’ gives of cozy vibes, and of course; you’d be 100% correct. Cozy grove is truly the perfect ‘rainy day’ kind of game, with a multitude of activities to undertake that give you a real sense of accomplishment once completed complimented perfectly by its hand-drawn art style. The overall theme of the game just ties in so well with the art style, with an abundance of incredibly adorable furniture to decorate your home with, alongside the ability to befriend local neighborhood ghosts (who are genuinely super friendly).
Dorfromantik is an incredibly relaxing and peaceful, procedurally generated puzzle game, in which you place tile-pieces to create ever-expansive landscapes and villages. It’s truly the perfect fifteen minute escape from any of the stressed that everyday life throws at you, as you can simply jump in, place a few tiles and just truly clear your headspace. For those looking for it as well, there’s plenty of strategy that can be used to achieve optimal scoring possibilities if you want to beat your high scores. A smarter person than me would be able to pull apart and identify why this game feels so meditative and rewarding, but all I can say is, I love puzzles, I love Dorfromantik‘s art-style, and I love feeling less stressed, so it’s all a recipe for success in my eyes.
Described as a “cozy, magical life game”, Wylde Flowers casts the player as Tara Wylde, a woman in her early 20s who has returned to her childhood home on the island of Fairhaven to help her aging “Gramma” manage the farm. Gameplay wise, it draws from titles such as Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing, but with a magical twist on things, all of which is complimented by a lovingly crafted world full of engaging characters and activities. Being the only iOS based game on the list, you truly don’t even have to leave the comfort of your bed to fully settle into this and explore everything it has to offer.
Sizeable is by far one of the most aesthetically pleasing games on this entire list. It’s an incredibly relaxing, casual puzzle/exploration, game about shrinking and growing various parts of the environment around you to uncover three pillars, which progress you to the next diorama-like level. Shrink the moon and lower the tide or resize a cloud to make it super windy! For the completionists out there, every level also has a hidden tortoise to uncover just for an added challenge. The most tantalizing thing about Sizeable is it leaves you wanting more (only taking approximately two hours to playthrough), and I sincerely hope we get to see some additional levels in the not-to-distant future.
Stardew Valley is one of the most enjoyable dopamine hits I’ve had from any game in a long time and is a beloved staple in the cozy games community. Very straightforward premise; you have inherited your grandfathers farm, and it’s now up to you to manage it to prosperity in any way you seem fit (or just fail to win over the townsfolk love for the thousandth time – I’m seriously starting to think I have interpersonal issues). From every every fish you catch, to every crop you harvest Stardew just has an incredible ability to make you feel relaxed and accomplished in almost everything you do. It’s just genuinely an all around feel-good game and that’s exactly how cozy games should make you feel!
Spiritfarer is one of the more interesting games on this list, as the subject matter of the game revolves around death, which traditionally you really wouldn’t associaiate with being ‘cozy’. Players play as a ferrymaster for wayward spirits of the dead, as you learn about each spirits story and help them make their voyage into the afterlife. It’s an incredibly beautiful and touching game (with the occasional tear-jerking story moments) that manages to find a really delicate and rather beautiful way of handling such a heavy topic.
Unpacking in its simplest form is a casual block-puzzle game, with an emphasis on relaxing repetition of tasks. There’s no form of stakes or consequences whatsoever for your actions, and players have as long as they want to finish unpacking items before moving on to the next level. It’s almost too hard to describe why this game feels so cozy and relaxing, but it’s just one of those game you jump into after along day of work and just calmly work your way through. I’ve had many a confusing conversation with my partner as to why I’ll willingly play a game about unpacking and not finalize unpacking the leftover boxes in our garage from our move, but that’s just how addicting and relaxing this game is.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons had the unique opportunity of coming out during a time where almost everyone across the world was locked indoors, and I, along thousands of others, invested an absurd number of hours into attempting to perfect my virtual island as a literal escape from the outside world. New Horizons ticks almost every criteria for a cozy game, with relaxing activities from fishing to gardening, a cast of incredibly adorable NPC’s in the form of villagers, and the freedom of decorating and customising your very own island in any form you seem fit. It’s a casual gamers dream come true, and just in writing this I already want to log back in and check in on my beloved villager Pietro, despite what anyone else may think of him (he’s perfect to me!).