What is cosy gaming?
Cosy games are usually slice-of-life wholesome games that have low stakes and can be played for real-life hours.
Because you’re not usually racing against the clock or worrying about your character dying, the key element of cosy games is that they’re relaxing.
These games encourage players to take things slow and just enjoy themselves. And, like most media, they give you an opportunity to engage in activities you might not do in your everyday life. For example farming, or delivering mail or hiking up a mountain (much more relaxing when you can do it from your lounge).
Cosy games also often have a vibe to them that can be spotted from a mile off. They usually have cute characters, calming music and sometimes surprisingly heartbreaking stories.
What are some cosy games?
The cosy game genre has exploded in the past few years, likely helped along by the pandemic. While people were trapped at home many sought ways to escape and games became an easy way to do that.
With their low barrier of entry (not counting the cost of having the right gaming system), cosy games were a perfect solution for people who previously hadn’t been interested in video games.
Nowadays there are cosy games for all kinds of people with all kinds of interests, here are a few of the most popular ones.
Animal Crossing New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)
The jewel in the crown of cosy gaming is Nintendo’s Animal Crossing New Horizons. It came out at the start of 2020 which made it the isolation game of choice.
New Horizons is the fifth entry into the Animal Crossing series and while the previous games would also count as cosy games, Nintendo took it to a new level with ACNH.
In ACNH you play as a human character (with a very big head) who moves to a tropical island full of talking animals to start a new life. Assisted by the capitalist racoon Tom Nook it is your job to help make the island into a thriving community.
Despite having some ‘boring adult’ themes, like paying off your loan to Nook, building island infrastructure, dictating community policy, the game is very chill. You spend much of it fishing, picking flowers and hanging out with your animal buddies.
The downside of ACNH is that it’s only available on the Nintendo Switch so if you don’t have one you simply cannot play.
WATCH BELOW: Stardew Valley trailer
Stardew Valley (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile)
Released all the way back in 2016, Stardew Valley is a hugely popular cosy game. Partly because the game is available on most platforms, but mostly because it’s a really good game.
At its heart Stardew Valley is a pixelated farming simulator but, as any fan will tell you, it’s so much more than that. Developer ConcernedApe did an amazing job creating a world that is so wholesome you want to pinch its metaphorical cheeks.
In Stardew Valley you play a character that quits their 9 to 5 office job in order to go run their grandfather’s old farm. When you first arrive the farm is in disarray and the villagers that live nearby treat you with suspicion and sometimes outright reproach. It’s up to you to restore the farm and build relationships with the villagers.
Where the game thrives is how its characters all have unique and interesting story arcs. Despite being 2D pixels they each have depth and you can’t help but want to know more.
Stardew Valley is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and even on mobile phones. It can take a bit to get the hang of the game but it is well worth it.
Disney Dreamlight Valley (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch)
It’s kind of surprising Disney didn’t get into cosy gaming earlier but their 2022 release, Dreamlight Valley, is a strong addition to the genre.
In Dreamlight Valley you play a human character that somehow travels to a magical world called Dreamlight Valley which is populated entirely by Disney characters.
When you arrive you find out that the valley has been infected by this dark force called ‘The Forgetting’ and it’s your job to fix it, with the help of Mickey Mouse, Elsa and WALL-E among others. It sounds stressful but mostly you spend your time running around helping characters run errands.
Along with the inclusion of licensed characters, what sets Dreamlight Valley apart is the scope of the game. The world is larger than those in ACNH and Stardew Valley and the character customisation is fantastic (partly because the clothing is gorgeous. Princess dresses? Yes please).
The game is still in early access so there are some teething issues. The decorating features are frustrating and the game is known to crash occasionally. The number of characters is also currently quite limited however Disney has promised an incredible line-up of favourites will join in the near future.