Sometimes, playing games can be stressful. You've got games like Dark Souls, Celeste, and even Metroid Dread, all games that may tempt you to throw your Nintendo Switch against the wall. If you're like me and prefer to unwind when playing games, then cozy games are perfect for you.
These games take things slowly, without steep difficulty curves or oppressive time limits. There's no "winning," and every playstyle is valid. Cozy games are perfect for curling up in bed with a big blanket and chipping away at before you head off to sleep. From farming games to simulation games, to even action-adventure games, the following titles are some of the best games for when you need to relax.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Heralded by some as the "ultimate cozy game," Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets you set up on a deserted island and slowly work towards developing it. Make friends, plant fruit trees, experiment with fashion, and decorate both your home and your island in the biggest Animal Crossing game yet. Everything goes at your own pace, time passes in real-time, and the game can perpetually go on forever if you want!
With the Happy Home Paradise paid DLC, players can engage in the decoration aspect of Animal Crossing by building and furnishing vacation homes for all kinds of villagers and NPCs. If you want to unwind and create, this game is for you.
Startdew Valley is the only farming simulator you'll ever need. In true farming sim fashion, you're tasked with rebuilding your late grandfather's farm, which slowly fell to ruin after years of being abandoned. Players can get to know the residents of Pelican Town, befriend and romance them, and further the game's story, all while building their farming empire.
With loads of free post-game content to engage with, you can set your own path. Forage, go fishing, farm, or even enter the abandoned mines for treasure — at your own risk, of course. Stardew Valley provides tons of good vibes, charming music, and an addictive gameplay loop that makes you say, "Okay, just one more day!"
Spiritfarer lets you embrace the coziness of a management sim, but beware — your eyes will be filled with tears for half of the game. As the name suggests, you're a Spiritfarer whose job it is to ferry lost souls to the afterlife. Build homes for spirits on your giant boat, get to know them and cook them food.
This game deals with the topic of death in a wholesome, positive way, and that's why it's so amazing. The art style is reminiscent of Studi Ghibli films, and the epic score is sure to evoke emotion in even the coldest of hearts. Managing your boat's facilities and playing minigames to craft materials places you in a total zen mode, and before you know it, you'll be playing until sunrise.
If you love creating, exploring, and building your own worlds, then Minecraft is the game for you. Don't let the blocky graphics fool you — Minecraft is an almost endlessly deep and complex game that teaches you new things about itself every day. Play together with friends, build enormous sculptures, even fight some creepers! The vast world of Minecraft is at your disposal, and you're free to experience it as you wish.
A Short Hike
This game kind of takes you by surprise. You are given one task — get to the top of the mountain so that you can make a phone call. What you aren't told is just how much fun the journey up the mountain is. Collect feathers to boost your jump height, get to know the people at the nature park, or collect fish from the rivers and sea.
With a lovely pixel art style reminiscent of the Nintendo DS games of yesterday, A Short Hike allows you to just take in the crisp fall air while working towards your goal. With a charming soundtrack, witty writing, and relaxed atmosphere, this little indie title will definitely draw a smile out of you.
Cozy Grove definitely lives up to its name, as you're tasked with running a quaint camp and helping ghosts move on to the other side. The hand-drawn graphics and witty dialogue from the spirits on the island make this game a joy to play. There are tasks aplenty and rewards for helping the spirits out. Decorate your island and forage for materials as you make the best of a spooky situation.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Hey, this isn't a simulation game, it's an action-adventure game! Well, that may be true, but The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is probably the most chill Zelda game out there. Sure, there's Calamity Ganon to defeat, but why not set out on horseback and look for 900 Korok seeds? You can cook, hunt for treasure, and take as long as you want — Zelda's waited this long, she can wait some more!
Sometimes when I don't know what to play, I open Breath of the Wild and just head off in one direction. Looking for Korok seeds, uncovering Shrines, and just taking things as they come makes this my favorite Zelda game to date.
Yoshi's Crafted World
Yoshi's Crafted World takes the beloved Yoshi platforming series into the world of 2.5D. With gorgeous HD graphics and thousands of details in each level, this game is a joy to look at. The entire game is made up of crafting materials, and players can make a game out of finding all the references throughout all the environments.
There are no time limits to speak of, and the platforming is quite forgiving. If you're in the mood for a platformer but don't want to worry about falling in pits, this is your game. Not to mention all of the neat collectibles that give Yoshi the classic Nintendo feel!
New Pokémon Snap
This long-awaited sequel to the Nintendo 64 classic is everything we imagined the original was. New Pokémon Snap is an on-rails (photography) shooter that takes you through breathtaking environments where you can observe Pokémon in their natural habitats. Take photos of Pokémon as they run about, express themselves, and most importantly — sleep like the precious babies they are.
If you've needed an excuse to fill up the photo album on your Nintendo Switch, this game provides you with tons of opportunities. Figure out how to unlock different expressions and uncover new things as you head back through old environments. Perfect for both casual players and completionists!
From the makers of Journey, this game takes you through expansive aquatic environments. Explore at your own leisure, ride a whale shark, swim with whales, and do flips with dolphins!
The orchestral soundtrack and serene environments make this game almost therapeutic. There's no rush, no difficult decisions to make, and no oxygen or health meters to worry about. If you enjoyed Journey, you'll definitely love this game.
Breathe in... and out...
Anyone who knows me knows that cozy games are my first choice before some of the more stressful games you can find out there. It's why I've been drawn to Nintendo systems, as games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons allow me to work towards my goals without worrying too much. Of course, story is also important to me, so games like Spiritfarer were amazing for when I needed to connect with characters on a deeper level.
Depending on how much time you've got on your hands, different games might be better for you. A Short Hike and ABZÛ won't demand too much of your time, and Breath of the Wild can be as long as you'd like it to be. Exploring, making friends, and taking things slow can be incredibly rewarding, no matter how big the game is.
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