Cozy games for easy play days

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A brightly coloured, pixel animated juice bar sits against a pink background with a robot working the counter to take orders.
If you need me, I’ll be playing cozy games for the next 5-7 business years. Pikurā via Pixabay

While action and thrillers can be engaging, sometimes you want to sit back and wait for virtual crops to grow

Do you ever find that video games can be a bit too intense? Maybe you have lost in Valorant or Overwatch or Apex Legends over and over again, and you’re tired and frustrated. Are the stakes feeling just a bit too high, and you feel stressed when you are playing games? Well, do I have the genre for you. 

Introducing cozy games. Some people also call this comfort gaming. Cozy games are about relaxing. They are about feeling comfortable. They are about caring for your mind and body. They help you unwind after a long day. The pace is slower, the music is calming, and the gameplay is at just the right difficulty. 

But where do you start? Cozy games is a big genre with lots of different games.  

Stardew Valley 

Stardew Valley is my favourite cozy game of all time. It was released in 2016 by independent developer ConcernedApe and studio Chucklefish. In the game, you create a farmer who inherits their dead grandfather’s farm. It’s your job to build the farm back up, profit, catch fish, raise livestock, mine, and make friends with townspeople. I currently have over 400 hours in the game if that gives you any insight into how much I love Stardew Valley. You can get married, have kids, and create a beautiful life for your farmer self. It’s a freeing game because there are little to no expectations for you to do anything if you don’t want to. If you never want to fish, you don’t have to – there are ways around it. The game is $15 USD on Steam currently. If you’re interested, check out my earlier article in the Carillon called “Making the most of your first year in Stardew Valley.” 

Animal Crossing 

Animal Crossing is the original cozy game. It was first released in 2001 for the GameCube. The GameCube version was my first introduction to Animal Crossing, and I’ve loved it ever since. The most recent version is Animal Crossing: New Horizons which came out for the Nintendo Switch in March 2020, making it an early pandemic staple. In this game, you move onto a deserted island with two other villagers, and Tom Nook with his nephews. You get to develop the island to your liking and make your dream island with your community of animal villager friends. Most consider New Horizons to be the best installment of the series, and I agree. It’s such a nice, slow-paced game wherein you can fish, swim, craft, collect resources, catch bugs, and visit your friends. There’s a museum to fill up and stores to add to your island as you progress in the game. If you’re looking for a game that’s slow and fulfilling to play in the evenings or on your breaks, check out Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Unpacking 

Unpacking is a game for everyone and anyone. The gameplay is self-explanatory from the title: you are unpacking. The game follows the story of a girl’s life throughout each home she has lived in throughout her life. You learn the woman’s story as she moves from place to place and introduces new hobbies and interests into her life. The narrative is told through the unpacking, the experience of finding where everything goes and what everything is. It’s a very, very relaxing game and it’s simple. It’s perfect for people who have never played video games before and are interested. It’s available on almost every platform, including PC, Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation. 

Coffee Talk 

Have you ever wanted to just listen to other people’s problems to avoid your own? Then Coffee Talk is the game for you. It’s another one of my favourite cozy games, and one I frequently replay. You play as the owner of a coffee shop that’s open all night long. You make coffee for guests that frequent your shop in the late hours. You learn their orders, how to make them, and the struggles they are facing in their lives. Sometimes you even get to help them out and guide them in the right direction. One of the highlights of Coffee Talk is the calming, lo-fi music that plays throughout the game. Get ready to make some coffee and download Coffee Talk A.S.A.P. 

Disney Dreamlight Valley 

Calling all Disney adults and Disney fans, I’ve got a cozy game for you! It’s called Disney Dreamlight Valley and it was released in 2022 in early access on the Switch, PlayStation, PC, and Xbox. You play as a new human in Dreamlight Valley, a setting full of your favourite Disney and Pixar characters. The valley has been cursed, and you need to save the valley and all your favourite characters. Like many other cozy games, Disney Dreamlight Valley lets you farm, fish, mine, and cook. You can even cook with Remy from Ratatouille! I love this game for the ease of the gameplay and the lack of urgency while still completing important tasks and meeting well-known characters.  

Story of Seasons 

Do you remember Harvest Moon from way back when? Are you sad that they no longer make Harvest Moon games? Well, then I have great news for you. Harvest Moon is still around, it’s just under a different name. It’s called Story of Seasons. Since 2015, it’s been going under the name Story of Seasons, and the most recent game is Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town. It was released for the Switch and PC in 2021, and PlayStation in 2022. It follows the same path as lots of other cozy games: growing crops, ranching livestock, foraging, gathering materials, marriage, and children. But just because it has the same elements of other games does not mean it’s not worth it. The developers have been making cozy games for a long time, and they do it well.  

A Little to the Left 

For our last game, let’s wander away from the farming games and head back into puzzles. A Little to the Left released in November of 2022 and it perfectly captures the experience of having a cat. A Little to the Left is a puzzle game about organizing household items, kind of like Unpacking, but it’s more of a 2D game, and there’s a chaos instigator. There’s a cat that wants to mess up your organization which adds a bit of laughter to the gameplay. A Little to the Left has been a great game for me on days where I feel like my life is completely out of control. It lets me feel like there is something there that I can control.  

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